Category - Family Travel

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Family Travel: Ethiopia
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» Boys’ Trip to Houston in the 2019 Mazda CX-5
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» Love Heals: The Cafe at Thistle Farm

Family Travel: Ethiopia

I’ll admit it. It’s been an adjustment returning to life in Tennessee after being together, as a family, for a month in Ethiopia. It’s a gift that I’ll be forever thankful for. So often I serve in other countries and return to my family, mind full/heart full, and find it a challenge to re-enter life with all I have seen and done. This time, we all came back with the same thoughts. We know the same people now, we love the same people now.

Working with our Bete Hosanna girls daily was a privilege. Our kids became little brothers and sisters. They laughed and worked alongside the girls seamlessly. Our kids shared who Jesus was to them personally and participated in Bible studies and sharing circles. They helped us welcome teams and they even ate every bit of spicy food handed to them.

I get a lot of questions about how the kids did on the long flights and how their tummies held up in country. The flights were honestly a piece of cake. Movies were enjoyed, games were played and airplane food was eaten. Lufthansa, the airline, was also very kid friendly. They added fun experiences like handing out little stuffed planes, taking polaroids of the kids and randomly bring by little card games or chocolates.

As far as the tummies go. There were definitely a few bumps in the road there. Liam had a couple of sick days and Elliott’s plane ride home was nothing short of miserable. BUT nothing was serious and they rebounded quite well. It’s a small price to pay in the grand scheme of things.

Charlotte and I head back to Ethiopia in just five short weeks. We are leading (I say we because let’s face it, she’s a mini-adult) a team of thirteen people to continue investing in Bete Hosanna and a few other ministries in Ethiopia. To say we can’t wait is an understatement.

I have missed the girls so much since we left. I think of their futures and plan for their futures daily. I have so much hope for them. We all do now.

» Boys’ Trip to Houston in the 2019 Mazda CX-5

When one of your son’s best friends wants to go to an NBA game for his birthday, you go to Houston! After six months of planning, we introduced our good friends to some of Houston’s best offerings, leaving them wanting more after the trip. The 2019 Mazda CX-5 crossover took us up, through, and down Houston’s Beltway and Interstates this time around.

Here are a few things we especially liked about the car followed by a rundown of our Houston adventures:

Design – We are still in love with the redesign that continues to improve from 2017. The interior comfortably seats five even with a group of crazy boys that tend to extend their arms and legs in all directions.

Interior – The interior of the CX-5 gets better each year. Every detail is well thought out, making everything in arms reach without having to take your focus off the road. The heated leather seats are offered for the front and rear seats to make everyone comfortable in the coldest winter months.

Safety Features – With a group of rowdy kids, it’s easy to lose focus to detail with the additional distractions. That’s more reason to appreciate Blind Spot Monitoring and Rear Cross Traffic Alert. At just the right times when parking, the Mazda would display multiple angles of the vehicle to assist with parking.

Houston can be a stressful place to drive with lots of traffic and lane closures. The CX-5 made the drives fun and enjoyable. The attention to detail and response of the car make you feel in control and safe at all times.

Houston Boys’ Trip Highlights and Destinations:
After the plane ride, the boys were pretty restless so we booked it straight to the Museum District to visit Houston’s Children’s Museum. This has always been a favorite so my boys were excited to introduce their friends to this one. Anyone can safely plan a three-four hour trip here.


After running around for a few hours, the boys were starving. We headed to for a ten minute drive to find The Pit Room, a not-so-secret BBQ restaurant in Montrose.

There’s no wondering why this spot made Texas Monthly’s list for Top 50 Barbecue Joints in Texas. At the time of our visit, the line was not too long and went quickly. The environment is nice with a large outdoor seating option during the warmer months. We had some hungry guys so we went for The Feast, which feeds 4-6. The brisket was tender and the jalapeño sausage was a favorite. Make sure to macaroni and cheese as one of your sides. The George Jones’ hits on the house speakers come at no extra charge.

After a lazy Saturday visiting with family, our quick weekend birthday trip would be topped off with the Rockets facing the Magic for a Sunday night game. We showed up early to watch players warm up and maybe get an autograph or two. The Rockets do an incredible job from the way the employees greeted us, the family-friendly environment they promote, and the high standards they put on production quality. In short, the birthday game did not disappoint.

Before the big game, we visited BuffBurger in Montrose. Where do I begin? The smell is great when you first walk in, it must be the wood fire grill. The beef is high quality from Ranch 44 and tastes like beef should. The parmesan truffle fries were perfect say the least. We definitely ate more than we should’ve.

Kids eat free on Monday and Tuesday (with purchase of a regular dine-in meal). The Little BuffBurger was a big hit. We opted out of the soft drinks to indulge on the great selection of ice cream.

Conclusion about the Mazda CX-5
For our trip, this car was perfect. We didn’t require a ton of storage since we were only staying for two nights. The gas efficiency and option for Sport mode are great for daily use. Houston driving always keeps you on your toes, and the Mazda’s safety features helps you focus on the important things when it comes to navigating the streets. We love this car as much as we love Texas, and that’s a big deal.

Special thanks to Mazda USA for allowing us to test drive the 2019 CX-5 Grand Touring. As always, these opinions are my own.

» Love Heals: The Cafe at Thistle Farm

As Charlotte’s ninth birthday approached we began to scheme and plan the ultimate girls day out. We continue to choose experiences over parties and presents in our home and she had her sights set on a day that included pampering, one-on-one time and perhaps a steaming pot of tea.

Thankfully we discovered that The Cafe at Thistle Farm recently moved to a beautiful new location and offers an afternoon tea service, by reservation, from 1-3pm every afternoon. Thistle Farms was founded in Nashville and offers women hope and healing through a holistic residential program, employment with one of their social enterprises, and a growing national and global network dedicated to changing a culture that allows human beings to be bought and sold. They also make a Global impact by distributing and selling handmade items and creating economic opportunities for women in ten different countries.

They are doing great things and we were more than happy to check out their beautiful cafe and shop as part of Charlotte’s special day. The Cafe was bustling when we entered and we spied lots of delicious salads, soups and sandwiches being delivered to tables. We gave our name and were quickly escorted to a reserved table just for the two of us. It was already set, beautifully, with saucers and dainty tea cups. We chose our tea from a nicely curated list and took some time to fawn over the tea things that were placed before us: natural sugar cubes, a pot of honey, a container of thick cream and slices of lemons.

Within a few minutes a steaming pot of tea graced the table and we fixed our cups to our liking. We chatted and worked on keeping our pinkies pointed while we waited on the rest of our afternoon tea service. Moments later our kind waitress delivered a 3-tier cart to our table that contained plates of scones, mini quiches, chicken salad, brownies, cookies, egg salad and other delicious treats. Each bite was delicious and oh so cute. If you are hoping for a full meal during this time you can also add a soup and salad to your reservation.

We also popped into their beautiful shop on the way out to grab lip balm, candles and natural bug spray!

After our delicious afternoon tea time, which we suggest you go ahead and book for a fun girls day, we headed over to Escape day spa for pedicures. Charlotte eyes lit up as we entered the spa and she whispered, it’s a REAL spa. Why yes, my dear, they certainly are. Escape offers everything from therapeutic soaks to coffee scrubs but they still treated Charlotte like the princess she is. We took advantage of their relaxation rooms and enjoyed several cups of mint tea before and after our nail service. The spa is truly gorgeous and one of the most relaxing places I’ve ever been. The staff is also friendly and ensures that you receive the pampering experience you expect when booking a high end spa service.

After our nails were fresh and our legs revived from vigorous massage and peppermint oils, we were ready to take on a bit of thrifting and treasure hunting in West Nashville. There is so much to discover in the Charlotte Pike area! We didn’t buy anything, due to our upcoming move, but I definitely found plenty of vintage items to drool over. One shop owner, after discovering Charlotte’s birthday situation, pulled a tray of dainty antique silver rings from a case and allowed her to choose one on the house. I definitely tried to scheme a way to procure the white couch pictured below. But alas, it stayed in the shop for another treasure hunter.

It was quite a day, one that we won’t soon forget. We owe a huge thanks to The Cafe at Thistle Farms and Escape Day Spa for helping us pull off such a meaningful celebration for the sweetest gal in Nashville.

 

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