What’s in my Beach Bag

Kenneth_ColeThis weekend I will be laying on the beach spending time in the sun and sand! We take a beach trip at least once a summer to get our fix of salt water and sea breezes. Better yet, we get our summer tans that last until late October.

My first vacation was spent at the beach in a cute little swimsuit with a big floppy hat on my head. I hated the water actually and cried when the waves crashed on the beach. But as any born and raised east coaster knows, a beach bag must be properly packed. I’m going to give you a peak inside my beach bag to see what I’m bringing!

 

Not pictured is my sunscreen (spf 30),  iPhone, ear buds, and little pineapple snack.

I can’t wait to show you all vacation photos when I get back! Please tell me if I’ve forgotten anything for my beach bag! There’s nothing worse than forgetting something big!

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The Summer Blues

Since we’re past the wishy washy month of June and into the serious heat of July, I’ve concocted a list of a few things that can really make you a debbie downer during these days. Call me spoiled, lazy, un-creative, whatever it may be, I don’t care. Here are 3 things that can make the summer less than wonderful.

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On the Patuxent during the winter with two of my friends!

1. Heat

This is obvious. I’m not breaking ground on anything new here but the heat can really be hard to beat when there aren’t any pools around (the north east has this problem) and who wants to sit inside all day with the dry AC blowing. Not me. I get bored fast. I live on the Patuxent River and would be happy to swim in that IF the jellyfish weren’t in abundance. I’ve had my fair share of stings and I’m so over it.

2. Lilly Pulitzer 

I’m the first one to say that I love Lilly. However, I’m the last one to buy anything from there. Why? Because I’mLilly_Pulitzer not handing anyone $200 for a dress that probably costs less than $20 to make. Summer is the season to break out the Pulitzer prints and more power to the lovely ladies that wear the dresses! However, until I’m out of college and don’t have debt to pay off I’m going to avoid the pretty colors that remind me I’m still a college student and therefore need to “watch my pennies.”

3. Instagram on Holiday Pictures

I’m thrilled you’re in Cabo sipping a Pina Colada while dipping your toes in the crystal clear water but I’m having trouble appreciating my own blessings right now. You guys know what I’m talking about- the

Pina_Colada
Ok, I admit, this is my photo. But I’ve only sat in luxury once, I swear!

uber popular Instagrammers who seem to do nothing but travel, shop, and take selfies. Jealousy is never pretty, but during the summer months when these individuals bombard our Instafeeds with pictures from Bermuda, Monaco, or wherever else it just gets to me. Can you say #unfollow?

Thank you for making it to the end of my rant. I love you for it. I really am blessed and live in a bubble of first world problems. I don’t know what its like to go without food for days on end and I have no idea what “danger” and “threat” can actually mean (think drug cartels, radical terrorists, mortars flying through the air). Every once in awhile though, I just need to let off that steam. Today I have and I must say I feel a hundred times better!

Tell me what bugs you about the summer months. Go ahead and let go of whatever is eating you up inside by commenting below! I’m not going to judge.

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Travel Edition: The Colorado Rockies

The summer after my freshman year in college my family took a road trip to the Colorado Rockies in early May. We drove 35 hours from Maryland to Denver, CO with a few stops along the way.

Road Trip!

We stopped off in Columbus, OH. We stayed for a few days to tour the zoo. Honestly, I wasn’t impressed by the zoo (although it is famous) but the people were great. I like Ohioans for their friendly but not overly friendly attitudes. It’s the good part of the midwest.

After Ohio we made our way to St. Louis, MO. We have family that lives in the area and we were lucky enoughCousins_fun to visit them for a few days before going on to Colorado. My dad’s family took us all over the city before we headed to another part of MO to stay with my dad’s brother and see his grandkids. Aren’t family reunions nice? Sometimes? Well, they are for us! We enjoy getting together and talking about old memories while making new ones. Both sets of my grandparents are dead so any memories our parents have of them the kids cling to. It’s nice to know where your roots are.

From Missouri we headed across the great state of Kansas. Tumble_weedsSeriously, this state is rather dull. 15 hours across the place and I saw nothing but prairie. Beautiful honestly, but I couldn’t do the drive again. We saw old sod houses in the middle of nowhere, tumbleweeds blowing across the highway, prairie grass on fire, and two tornados. Ok, we didn’t see the tornados per se, but we had to outrun them twice knowing they were close by. We saw a bunch of storm chasers heading towards them though, which was neat. It was hot out there and the climate was perfect for tornados!

Driving_in_the_snowOnce we got into Colorado the weather changed. It went from 84 degrees to 25 degrees! It started to snow! When we got to our hotel in Denver I jumped out of the car in flip flops. People stared at me  until I changed into my warm Ugg boots.

The next day we went up in the mountains. What a drive. I’ve never done anything like it. I thought the mountains in New York state were big but compared to the Rockies they’re little hills! We climbed rocks and took photos. We saw wildlife in their habitat munching on the thawing ground. We couldn’t hike too far for the simple reason that most of the trails were under 9 feet of snow!

We found a little town called Estes Park towards the base of the mountain. It was so quaint and just a lovely place to be during the day! So many pretty antique shops and interior decorating stores! Lots of adorable clothing stores as well as many yummy places to eat. There was also a small river that ran behind all the shops and we got coffee and cocoa from the local Starbucks to drink while taking a break from the day.

On the drive back home we stopped one last time to see our family before heading back. It was one of those vacations where absolutely nothing was expected but that’s what made it exciting. Memories are what life is made of.

Enjoy the photos!

~Liz

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World Cup and the Spirit of the Game!

I never thought I would enjoy soccer. I really didn’t. However, this year’s World Cup has proven otherwise but in ways that you wouldn’t expect.

I’ll keep this short but I want to highlight how awesome it is to see each country taking pride in their teams! FromWorld_Cup the moment the gents and their kid sidekicks step onto the field there’s an undeniable sense of electricity moving through the air. They line up, salute their flags, sing their anthems, and then greet the opposing team. In a time where half the world is in an uproar, it is nice to see some sportsmanship taking place.

National identity and pride is absolutely vital to the survival and will power of a country. While some countries that are playing in the World Cup display their identity and pride less than others, I certainly appreciate the ones that are very open about it.

World_CupI’m cheering on two teams- England and America. England for my grandma and America because its my home. It sends goose bumps down my arms to hear my country’s anthem and to see our player’s mumbling the words with their hand on their heart. I also marvel at the other anthems as well. Its a cultural experience for all of us. For the first time in awhile we can all enjoy a game and just observe. We aren’t singing Kumbaya, but we’ve found common ground. Can we relish in this moment? I am.

~Liz

Sponsoring a Child Abroad!

Child_SponsorshipLast April (2013) I saw an ad on my newsfeed for child sponsorship. I remember my parents did it for a little girl in Kenya until she was a legal adult. Her name was Ketray. Through the $35 a month my parents sent to her she got to go to school, buy clothes, help fund her family farm, and gave her school supplies. We got pictures and letters from her and sometimes her family telling us about their lives and thanking us for our help.

3 Kids’ Lives Changed by the Kindness of Complete Strangers

I had been wanting to find someone to sponsor on my own but didn’t Costa_Ricaknow where to look or begin. I wanted to be led to it by God anyway. And I finally was. I found a little girl who was 6 years old in Costa Rica who desperately needed help. Her parents couldn’t afford school for her. I agreed to sponsor her on the spot.

A Year later, I’m still her sponsor despite difficult financial times for myself. This little girl is the cutest thing! I’m really blessed to sponsor her. I’ve gotten letters from her mom and drawings from Elizabeth (my sponsor child) as well.

One of the most interesting things to learn about her was her love for painting! Its her favorite thing to do at school. I find it interesting to think that I’m investing in a future artist for only $35 a month. I’m also investing in the future of Costa Rica. The more educated a group of people are, the better off the society is as a whole.

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Deepak, my parent’s sponsor child!

After a few months of sponsoring I decided to become a child ambassador for World Vision International, the charity I sponsor my child through. I have to get 10 children a year sponsored. My parents volunteered to sponsor a boy in India named Deepak. He’s 3 and has the cutest little pouty face we’ve ever seen. His family and even neighbors have written to my parents thanking them for helping the family and Deepak.

My parents’ good friends also decided to sponsor a child. They went to my sponsor page and chose a child in a very unique way. The lady had just lost her dad and he had absolutely loved to visit South America and volunteer his time helping the poor. She entered in his birth date and selected a country her dad loved to visit. The first child that came up was a little boy named Joseph. Her dad’s name was also Joseph. They committed to sponsoring him immediately.

In case you’re wondering, World Vision has a very good track record of transparency in their funding and where it goes. They have a 5% overhead and spend 12% on fundraising. The other 83% goes to children around the world. You can find this information on their website.

World_Vision World Vision also organizes trips for sponsors to meet their sponsor children abroad. While it does cost the sponsors money, World Vision takes care of the entire trip. All you do is go and meet your child. You can also send packages or small letters to them. Some countries have different restrictions on what can be sent and how much but for the most part small packages are accepted.

A wonderful aspect of this organization is the easy way you can communicate with your child. Once you World_Vision sponsor a child, they give you log in information for your own site to check on your child, their community, and their progress. You can also email them through the site and they will write back via snail mail. For every holiday, World Vision will send you a letter for you to sign that usually has some sort of activity for the sponsor child to do such as coloring a picture. You send it back to World Vision and they get it to the child. This process takes several months but excites the younger kids.

A note about the organization- it is one of the top 10 largest charities in the USA. They are Christian based, HOWEVER, they will not discriminate against or drop children who are not Christians. In some countries they work in, it is illegal to be Christian so there can be no direct religious messages to the kids. In these places, the charity tries to use their servant attitudes and kindness to bare witness of their faith to those people.

There are still thousands of kids that need someone to volunteer for them. Would you or someone you know be willing to do it? Visit my sponsorship page if you’d like to have a look at the children who are waiting for someone to sponsor their future. Take the plunge because I’m glad I did!

Comment, like, and share with your friends!

~Liz