Three Reasons We Choose to Make Vacation a Priority

Quebec City, Quebec, Canada

Cascais, Portugal

San Francisco, California

Sintra, Portugal

Paris, France

Rome, Italy

Our love story began the very weekend I met Herm for the first time. It wasn't love at first sight, but I remember in the midst of conversation, as we sat near one another at the wedding reception of a mutual friend, a thought popped in my head, seemingly out of no where.

He is the man I am going to marry. 

I had already decided, after being in several relationships that didn't work out, that I wouldn't be romantically involved with anyone again until I was emotionally mature enough to handle it -- say twenty-five perhaps. 

The thought caught me off guard. Herm seemed nice enough, and he did have blue-grey eyes that made it pretty hard to focus on anything else. But I was nineteen, and twenty-five wasn't exactly just around the bend.

We had a lot of things in common, a love to travel being one of them. We compared notes about countries we visited and placed we hoped to one day see. He told me that Venice, Italy, was a dream destination for him. I mentioned I want to go back to Dubai, UAE, again, because with how amazing the airport itself was, I know the city has to be even more showy. Highest on my bucket list, though, would be Istanbul, Turkey. 

A few short months after that conversation we began a relationship, and thirteen months after meeting, we were married. 

I still remember so vividly on my wedding day someone telling me that now I'd have to settle down. I was a married woman after all, and my days of regularly roaming the world would come to an end. Enjoy the honeymoon! It might be the last trip in quite a while.

What that person forgot to consider was that I was marrying a man who loved traveling as much, if not more, than I do. Our days of traveling alone were over, our chance to adventure together was just beginning.


In the five and a half years since our wedding, we've taken quite a few trips together, some fairly local, others across the country and half way around the world. 

Often friends and acquaintances ask about our trips. Not nearly everyone understands why we would prioritize vacationing, since it is quite costly.  And even more people seem aghast at the thought of traveling across the world with young kids. Wouldn't it make more sense to wait until they are old enough to remember this once-in-a-lifetime trip? Wouldn't it make traveling easier?

I guess the answer to both of those questions could be yes, depending on how you look at it.

I will admit, because of Herm's business and the amount of supplies and inventory purchased, we are able to quickly accumulate airline miles and hotel stays we earn from our credit card points. Those points toward airline tickets and hotel rooms have played a huge part in us being able to afford the luxury of taking our family on many vacations. But I know that even without those points we would still find a way to travel, to getaway and spend time together as a family. Even on a much smaller scale, that time together, doing something we love as a family, is essential.


So, to answer that question I've been asked quite often... We Choose to Make Vacation a Priority Because:

1. Making Memories Together Helps Create a Strong Bond
One of the things I have noticed about families that seem to have a close bond is that they've created memories together. That doesn't happen by accident. Life can so easily get in the way, each of us falling into our normal rhythms and routines, that we forget to be intentional about building relationships with the ones we love most. It doesn't have to happen through vacationing, but since traveling is something Herm and I absolutely love, and something our kids are quickly becoming fond of as well, it's where we have decided to be especially intentional about creating memories. 

2. It Broadens Your World View
In addition to creating memories and valuing time spent together as a family, I also believe that traveling (especially when visiting other countries and cultures) creates a broader world view. I want my children to be immersed in worlds much different than their own. I want them to appreciate the many ways people live across the globe. I want them to see the value and beauty in diversity and be able to celebrate that. I want them pushed outside of their comfort zones, immersed in cultures where it seems nearly impossible to communicate because of a lack of common language and have to figure it out. I want them to know what it feels like to be an "outsider". For me personally, living aboard and traveling to many countries where it was obvious that I was a foreigner, has taught me how to be more sensitive to those around me in my own community who might also feel like an outsider.

3. This World is a Masterpiece Waiting to be Explored
And finally (although, I probably could go on and on) this world is an absolutely amazing and breath-taking masterpiece created by the Master Artist. That, in and of itself, is reason enough to buy a ticket somewhere new and do a bit of exploring. Traveling has a way of making me realize how great and amazing yet small and connected this world and its people are.

I love visiting new places, meeting new people, and seeing how history can come alive, all from roaming the globe. As I wander, this world never loses its wonder. Traveling with kids, experiencing it from their perspective, has only made that feeling greater.

I feel it's worth the investment now to travel as a family, even when our kids might only remember the trips from photos. For us, we know it won't be a once-in-a-lifetime trip because we do plan to keep on exploring. It's a lot of extra work, but it's worth it. I promise. If you don't have the means to travel half way around the world, start where you can. Explore your neighborhood, your state, your country.

Creating memories and being intentional to build close relationships now, when my kids are young, is my way of sowing into what I want our relationships to look like when they leave home. Traveling together, I hope, will only increase that bond.

Do you vacation as a family? I'd love to hear your thoughts!




Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant.

Recently, while visiting my sister and her husband in their Lancaster City home, I was handed this book and told to borrow it. It took me almost an entire week before I cracked the spine and began to read, but once I started it was only a matter of days before I had finished the last paragraph and told my cousin, who was over for the evening, that she too, needed to borrow it.

After unexpectedly losing her husband, author, Sheryl Sandberg, was fearful that she and her children would never be able to find true joy again, but instead live with constant trauma and grief.  Sheryl's close community of family and friends surrounded her with support, and with time she did begin to experience joy again, along with a new and deeper appreciation for life. In the book, Sheryl shares journal entries which describe the intense grief and isolation she felt after her husband's death. But the book goes beyond Sheryl's loss to share a broad range of traumatic experiences --job losses, death of loved ones, sexual assault, abuse, illness, violence, war-- and the stories of how people have overcome, persevered, and rediscovered joy.

The book brought me to tears a time or two, as what Sheryl shared about walking through grief felt all too familiar and fresh. But it was excellent, and I highly, highly recommend that everyone read it, whether or not they've lost loved ones or have dealt with personal trauma of any kind. If for nothing else, read it to know better how to respond to others who are currently facing adversity.


The scalp massage brush I recently purchased (here is a similar one). Pregnancy is a weird and wonderful thing. It's weird in the sense that anything and everything can be a symptom of it. Almost immediately after finding out I was pregnant, my skin suddenly became extremely dry and breakouts popped up, scattering rampantly, as if my face was a canvas for a game of connect the dots. Along with the dry face, my scalp was itchy, my hair constantly carrying its own version of freshly fallen snow. I tried oiling my scalp and rinsing with vinegar. Neither option worked. So one evening I stopped at Sally Beauty and picked up a scalp brush. Within two days the dry, itching scalp was no longer a problem. My hair feels healthy and clean again... Now if only I could find a remedy that easy for my face!

I am also absolutely loving this necklace, which my sister gifted me for my birthday. It's from the brand Dear Mushka. Each piece of their jewelry is reflective of scripture and comes paired with a corresponding verse card. My necklace corresponds with Colossians 4:6, which states "Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone."


About our upcoming winter vacation. We are doing a repeat of our vacation last year. For those who might not know, every year in February we head NORTH for a few days. Yeah, everyone looks at us with that confused expression you are wearing right now. The whole point is to slow down and spend time together as a family before the spring rush with Herm's work happens. Being snowed in somewhere is a great way to force or encourage rest. We take a stack of books and movies along, as well as all our snow gear, because what is winter without sledding? 

The first year we did this we went to Lake Placid, but every year since we've ventured into Canada, first to Montreal, Quebec, and the next year to Quebec City, Quebec.

We loved Quebec City so much, we decided to go back. We are renting the same AirBnB again. In less than two weeks we will be heading north. I cannot wait!

Thinking About

How impractical it is to have carpet in vehicles and how ironic it is when people talk about the dangers of social media in an Instagram or Facebook post.

Listening To

So many things! Recently Herm did some renovations to his office. After the work was done, the whole room was coated in an extremely fine, but thick layer of dust. I spent several hours one Saturday cleaning it... It was the sort of dust that resettles once you think the place is clean, immediately looking like is needs cleaned again. Anyhow, eventually it looked presentable. That evening, aching and tired, I walk through the kitchen for a glass of water, and that's when I notice his gift setting on the counter -- an Altec Lansing bluetooth speaker, along with a note of appreciation for the time I spent cleaning. I married a man who notices and appreciates the little things. And needless to day, I am loving that speaker. It's podcasts and music and music and podcasts daily around here.


My children become the best of friends. A few weeks ago we dealt with an entire week of sickness. It was miserable. As soon as Carson was over the flu, Brooklyn got it, but hers came with a vengeance that left us all feeling a bit miserable and weary. We survived, and a I daresay, we are better for it, because the very next week Carson and Brooklyn started playing well together. No longer do I feel like I need to be a constant referee, intervening and making calls. Every day they surprise me, playing together for hours on end. I think maybe it took a week of sickness for Carson to realize how much he really does like spending time with his little sis. It feels like we are starting a new, fresh chapter, and I think it's absolutely wonderful.  

Now it's your turn to share if you'd like. I'd love to hear what you are currently reading, loving, dreaming, thinking about, listening to, or watching. Feel free to drop a comment!


Things I Never Told You

I had to blow dust off this blog before sitting down to write. 

In my head I've got a lot of dreams of what this little space could become, but somehow my priorities aren't aligning with my dreams right now. The lack of activity here as proven that.

Nonetheless, I am still hanging on to those dreams. In the same way I still consider myself a runner, even though my days of training for races and regularly running three miles before 6 am have all but vanished (okay, completely vanished),  I still consider myself a writer; albeit, one who rarely writes.

I won't allow myself to believe that becoming a mom has stolen that part of who I am. We all make time for what we have chosen to make time for. I could list many excuses, some of them completely valid, as to why I haven't shown up more, but the point is, if I wanted to write bad enough, I would have. 

Discussing my lack of ambition lately isn't why I am here. I'm simply going to update you with some of what has been happening in my life the past while, and from there hope that I begin to show up more often again, so that we don't have to dig into the archives of life to get started the next time.

Now, on to the Things I Never Told You...

1. Italy. Been There, Done That. 

To celebrate our fifth wedding anniversary this past September, we traveled to Italy, kids in tow, and did a bit of sight seeing. We had layovers in both Paris and Amsterdam, so we took advantage of that as well by spending a day exploring each of those cities. 

Tucked into a notebook, I have a list of over 30 blog post ideas. In the mix are posts I'd like to write about our trip, including detailed ones on Traveling with Kids, How to Backpack for Twelve Days with a Family of Four, Why We Invest in Vacation, and so on. In the probable chance that those posts never see the light of day, enjoy a few photos...

2. We are Having Another Baby!

If I were to list some of the excuses I've come up with whenever Herm asks why I haven't been writing more (he brings this up frequently, he is my biggest encourage-er when it comes to this blog) the little child I am growing would be one of them. It worked well for the first trimester, when I was exhausted in the afternoon and took naps when the kids did, and again at night, when I tucked myself in immediately after bedtime prayers with Carson and Brooklyn. The second trimester is a different story. That excuse is no longer valid.

About the baby! goodness, I let myself trail off on that one: I am almost 18 weeks along, which means I am due the beginning of July. We don't know the gender. We don't know if we will choose to find out the gender. We haven't discussed, in detail, names yet. And along with that, we will take any and all suggestions at this point. Naming a child keeps getting harder and harder with every pregnancy. This might have to be the last.

3. NYC at Christmastime is Magical and Overrated.

My mom and dad graciously watched the kids for a weekend so that Herm and I could enjoy a quick getaway to New York City. We went right before Christmas. It was beautiful and cold and extremely overrun with people wanting to see the tree at Rockefeller. We had fun, but both agreed we enjoy smaller cities much, much better. 

I guess this will do it for now, until next time....


Baby Bird

Photo by Corina Miller

It was last summer, around the 4th of July, when Kat, my sister-in-law, first mentioned her dream of opening an online children's boutique to me. In the months since then she's been perfecting her patterns and figuring out what fabrics she wants to use, and today is that day I finally get to tell you all about Baby Bird, her Instagram shop!

Kat gifted me several things: two knit skirts, a linen skirt, and a linen pair of jogger style pants, all for Brooklyn. In the past few months those items have become favorite things Brooklyn will end up wearing multiple times each week. 

What I've come to absolutely love about the linen items is that unlike most fabrics, it actually becomes even nicer the more you wear and wash it. The joggers and skirt have both softened up beautifully, they hold up well against an active toddler who seems wear holes in just about everything I put on her, and stains don't stand a chance at ruining the clothes... just soak them in a vinegar/water mixture and almost anything, pizza sauce included, will come right out.

The knit items are extremely soft. Brooklyn would most likely pick the floral skirt as her favorite out of the whole collection, because as she says, it's so "pudy" (pretty). She can be quite the little Tom Boy, but when it comes to clothes and shoes, she likes a bit of added flounce and sparkle.

I know I could go on and on about my love for Baby Bird, but I'd rather let you experience the items for yourself. This week, over on my Instagram page, I am giving away $30 in shop credit for Baby Bird to one lucky person. If you go enter the giveaway that person might be YOU!

And you if aren't the winner, but still would like to experience Baby Bird for yourself (and I think you should), follow Kat's shop on Instagram, or email her at babybirdsewing17@gmail.com for more information. 


Aunt Emma's Famous Waffle Cookies

This post was made possible thanks to the generosity of Oak Hill Bulk Foods, who supplied me with ingredients, and my friend, Corina Miller, who captured the experience on camera. 

As a kid, I don't remember my family going all out when making Christmas cookies, not like some of my friends (the lucky ones) whose moms would bake dozens upon dozens of cookies, then go to cookie exchanges and come home with a dozen varieties more. My mom would make three or four different kinds, and compared to the heavily iced and sanded sugar cookie cutouts that my friends got to boast, ours were always rather boring.

Boring for a four year old, maybe. But looking back now, I'd argue that ours were actually edible. Not only that, they were also delicious.

I grew up to be someone who is just as practical, if not even more so, than my mom. Meaning my poor kids are lucky that they even got to try one variety of Christmas cookies this year. I support my decision not to participate with reasons of health. Everywhere you go during the holiday season, people, it seems, are eager and generous with sugary goodies, and I really don't want things like that freely available in our home as well. (That is my argument. Please don't make me admit that the main reason you won't find cookies in our house it because I simply don't like to bake.)

Carson, my almost four year old, was a bit in shock when I presented the idea of baking cookies together, because he didn't think I actually knew how. So, I set out to prove that child wrong.

We gathered all of the necessary ingredients at our favorite grocery store, Oak Hill Bulk Foods. We shop there almost every week, and almost every week Carson and Brooklyn both press their faces into the glass of the pastry display, begging for a cookie with sprinkles, (which Carson, hilariously, used to call "brain-kills") because they never get cookies like that at home.

Instead of bringing a cookie with sprinkles home this time, we brought a container of sprinkles and everything else, to make our own cookies.

I whipped up one of the four kinds of cookies my mom use to make -- Aunt Emma's Famous Waffle Cookies. (Yes, of course I did.)

These cookies are exactly as the title says, waffles. They are crisp and chocolate-y, and topped with a fudge frosting, and because Carson was helping me, also heavily doused with sprinkles. They're named after my Great Aunt, Emma, and are a Stoltzfus family favorite.


Aunt Emma's Famous Waffle Cookies

1 1\2 c. sugar
1 c. butter, melted
4 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 c. flour
1\2 c. cocoa (I used dark cocoa)
1\2 tsp. salt

Mix butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla, mix together. Add flour, cocoa and salt, stirring until combined. Bake 1-2 minutes in waffle iron.

Fudge Frosting

6 Tbs. butter
3\4 c. granulated sugar
1\3 c. milk
3\4 c. chocolate chips

Boil butter, sugar and milk together for one minute. Stir in chocolate chips until melted.
Spread over waffle cookies and top with sprinkles.

 And there you have it, the inside scoop on the only cookies I'll be making this holiday season. They are so easy and so delicious. (Though not nearly as delicious as the cookies with sprinkles from Oak Hill. Carson was quick to let me know he truly wasn't that impressed with my cookie making abilities. Ya can't win them all, now can ya?)


This post was made possible, thanks to Oak Hill Bulk Foods, who supplied me with all the ingredients needed for the recipe. I highly recommend you visit their store if you get the chance!

Oak Hill Bulk Foods is located at 3173 Route 14A, just two miles south of Penn Yan, NY. The store is opened Monday - Saturday, from 8 am -6 pm, and the cafe is open Monday - Saturday from 7 am - 4 pm.

You can follow Oak Hill on Facebook and Instagram, or visit their website to learn more!


Also, a big thank you to my friend, Corina Miller, who offered to do a lifestyle photography session just for this post! Her work is gorgeous, and if you are looking for a fun gift to give someone this holiday season, might I suggest you book a session with her. It will be a treasured keepsake in the years to come! You can find her on Instagram. Send her a message there to let you know you're interested in learning more. 


Whole30-ish + Other Current Happenings

I did a thing.

For the month of August I joined ranks, giving into the pressure of what it seems like every blogger and Instagrammer these days is challenging themselves with; I did Whole30. Well, to be honest, I did Whole30-ish. (Yeah, I cheated a bit.)

Maybe you're not familiar with it? Whole30 is a 30 day reset, where you eliminate certain food groups from your diet that could be having a negative impact on your body. Things like dairy, added sugar, grains, alcohol, legumes, MSG, etc. At the end of the 30 days, you slowly reintroduce them to your diet to see how you react to them. It's a fascinating approach to educating yourself about what you are eating and why.

This isn't a weight loss program, however a lot a people do happen to lose weight doing it. That wasn't my goal at all. I forgot to weigh myself, so I have no idea if those numbers fluctuated. I did it mostly for the discipline of it, and to prove to myself I could.

The first three days I thought it was a piece of cake. I ate lots of veggies, fruits, and protein, and didn't even miss heavy cream in my daily coffee. But by day four it was no longer a piece of cake; and I desperately wanted a piece of cake. I managed to stay strong for an entire eight days, before I cheated and went out for tacos with my sister-in-law.

I won't tell you how many times I ate off plan. I can't say I noticed huge changes in the overall way I felt. That could perhaps be because this way of eating isn't drastically different than how I usually eat, minus the dairy and peanut butter and chocolate I enjoy consuming. Or perhaps I didn't feel drastically different because I cheated a few times too many. Who knows?  I did feel good though -- which typically I do -- and by not eating carbs from grains or any dairy, my stomach was flatter than ever.

By the last week I was done. Done. Done. Done. I cheated again, and drank cream in my coffee and had a bit of peanut butter with a banana. It couldn't be that bad, could it? It could. My skin, which had started to look clear and feel smooth for the first time since having Brooklyn, broke out in a rash. Little whiteheads began popping up around my chin, and I knew. Dairy. Dairy was the culprit.

So this week, though no longer doing Whole30, I am going mostly dairy free. And it seems to be helping my skin.


Along with the discipline of Whole30, I was hoping to also be disciplined in blogging weekly in the month of August. That happened exactly one time. Sometimes I wonder what happened to the Sarah I use to be, the only who followed through with her goals?

Oh wait. I know. She's now a wife and mom. She's got a new set of priorities, and not meeting every goal on time is okay. (Preaching to myself, but maybe you needed to hear that too.)


Also in the month of August:

I read five books. Two novels -- Her Mother's Hope and Her Daughter's Dream, both by Francine Rivers. Skin Cleanse, the simple, all-natural program for clear, calm, happy skin, by Adina Grigore. I heard a lot of good about this book, and when I checked it out on Amazon the reviews were amazing. I've been implementing what I've learned, and that, along with eliminating dairy, I hope will clear my skin once and for all. The Gracelaced book. If you follow me on Instagram you already know how much I truly love this book. It's a beautiful devotional, that points to Christ in each and every page. And finally, {Why} Motherhood Matters. I am still working my way through this one, but it is so, so good! And I had the privilege of going to the book launch party and meeting the author, which makes it even more inspiring to me.

By now you are thinking that if I had time to read five books, I most certainly had time to blog more. I can't blame that on my husband or kids taking all my free time. I'm beginning to think that too.

I spent a lot of time with my sister-in-law, Lyd, who was living in the area for the summer. We thrifted and ate tacos and drank coffee like it was our job.

The kids and I met my sister in Williamsport, PA, for a picnic lunch along the river. It's been almost a year since she got married and moved away. I don't know why its taken us this long to meet half way. We had a lovely afternoon, and already I am looking forward to doing it again.

We went to the cabin with my husbands extended family. I married into such a fun crew of people. This weekend is a highlight in our summer every year.

I discovered two new podcasts to listen to while mowing yard: Dear Daughters + JourneyWomen.

I mastered headstands and pull ups. These both have been goals of mine for a long, long time.

Met my handsome little nephew, Cai. He's the son of my brother, Bryan, and his lovely wife, Amy, and the first child to be born to one of my siblings!

And I didn't blog.

I know September will be even fuller than August. I'll be back to chat in October, if not before...

Have a lovely day!