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Top 6 things to do in Oahu with kids

This was my third trip to oahu! It's beautiful, breezy and dreamy as I remember it the first two times, but this time I was with my 5 a...

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Shanghai with the family friendly Four Seasons hotel

December 22, 2017
We did a very small portion of Shanghai in just 3 days!@ Here's what I loved and would recommend!
The bus tour- Shanghai is large and spread out, so this is your best bet to as much as possible. We used the bus tour to get to the BUND (the very European section of Shanghai along the river, pearl tower, and Yu Garden. The Bund was my absolute favorite, but I have a thing for European architecture, so it was absolute heaven to me! Yu garden was jammed pack with people, shoulder to shoulder. On our last day we did Shanghai Disney and it was beyond amazing, we needed more time there. Since the park was built in 2016 it contained all the latest and greatest tech, mind-blowing truly. A must do with kids!
If I had another day I would have done an excursion out of the city to the old water town: Zhujiajiao Ancient town about 1,700 years old.

Yu Garden and Pearl Tower!

One of the highlights of Shanhai, hands down. Disneyland. Built in 2016 meant all the latest and greatest tech, mind-blowing!


The family hotel with unforgettable pool in Sydney

December 19, 2017
We had the absolute joy of experiencing Sydney with the Holiday Inn at Old Sydney. It was 10 years ago since our last visit down under and I vowed to come again but stay at "the Rocks" historical district if we returned. The Holiday Inn at Old Sydney met my goal and then some. It is smack dab in the middle of this historical district with all the best Sydney has to offer in walking distance. Leave your car at home because you can walk to all the best sights from this gem of a location. Such a dream. Everywhere you turn in this district is old history, beautiful buildings, and Sunday's harbor at your fingertips. It is the perfect location.
More over the family friendly atmosphere was perfect for our two boys, 11 and 6. And by family friendly I mean kids eat and stay for free! What really won us all over is the hotel's famous pool overlooking the Sydney harbor. Best in Sydney, truly. Spectacular panaranomic rooftop views. Just breathtaking. 

Seminyak Bali with kids and some warnings

November 23, 2017
Bali will forever be memorable because my sister met me there for our shared irish twin Birthday. The warm people, the colors, the culture and food were beyond amazing particularly in the area where we stayed in Seminyak. If you are a foodie and appreciate fine shopping this is where you will want to stay. Some of the best food Ive ever eaten, very clean whole- foods- kinda eatin in some of the trendiest of restaurants. Truly food heaven.
That said, there were a few challenges we faced on our family trip to Bali that I would do differently. DO check the timing of your visit with the seasons, we neglected to verify the rainy season and it indeed rained everyday but worse over with rain comes mosquitoes. The mosquitos feasted on the kids daily resulting in big welts. That was tough. A little rain never bothered me, but we're talking torrential downpour so touring sites proved difficult! While Seminyak is a woman's dream I'm not so convinced its uber family friendly. Its well suited for a girl's trip that's for sure. If you are looking for true Bali culture, Ubud is probably a better fit where the monkey park and largest (and cheapest) markets are located. By the way, we opted out of monkey park due to all the biting the monkeys can possibly do resulting in free passes to the clinic for rabies shots. Our last trip to Tokyo my littlest ended up in the ER with stitches, so we are still hot off that experience! 
To be honest, I purposely brought our children to experience a third world country and visited an orphanage to drive home the point. But even walking in the streets of Bali was physically difficult with children due to the traffic/motorbike congestion. I struggled with staying in a plushy villa while visiting a third world country. Leaving Bali I literally googled does "tourism hurt or help Bali?" I believe both. Go and contribute to their economy but you can give rather than take by supporting the small businesses there verses big box comapnies. Just food for thought. 
Our top Picks in Seminyak. (the food- yogi heaven town)


Four on Drapadi. This villa hotel has 4 villas you can pick from all with pools and a staff that cooks breakfast for you every morning. Breakfast is my love language, so truly this was heaven and completely spoiled us. I picked a pretty modern all black and white villa, it was an aesthetic dream.

4 days in Tokyo with kids

September 01, 2017
This was a major check off our list! We've lived in Okinawa for years and have never ever toured around mainland Japan. So finally its checked off and boy did we cram it in, thats how I roll. To be honest when I researched Tokyo and Kyoto, I fell hard for Kyoto. But we only had 4 days so one city at a time was our best option. But just so you know there is a bullet train between the two cities and it will take you 3 hours to get to Kyoto from Tokyo. I'm coming for you next Kyoto which is chock full of architecture, history, tradition and moves at a much slower pace, its old traditional Japan

Our Itinerary:
Day 1-Yokohama (45 minutes from tokyo train ride-great kids museums, sights, and super clean waterfront city. Also birthplace of Kirin beer)
Day 2-Sky City Bus tour- I read mixed reviews on this because its a double decker bus but you only sit up top, so if its raining you'll get wet. Also we rode it on the weekend so we didn't sit in any traffic and it was a very scenic way to get around town, offering 3 different routes for 24 hours at a very good price. I loved it. Don't expect to have a good hair day on this, like i said your on the top which is open to air-like riding a convertible through the city. Sites we visited-Hutch bunny cafe, Sensoji Cafe, Ueno Park/zoo, and Tokyo Tower. 
Day 3-Tokyo Disney Sea- Our boys are 11 and 6 and we've done Hong Kong Disney and California's Disneyland and I gotta say Tokyo Disney Sea was made for me. It was a cultural experience which I love! The rides were geared towards older kids but there was a large section for the littles in the Little Mermaid lagoon area. We saw 3 of the shows and they were broadway caliber. Truly a spectacular park in every way. Also, because we went on a weekday (we're smart like that) the lines were minimal 15-20 min max. Check the Disney Sea Crowd Tracker!
Day 4 Shibuya Crossing- Busiest intersection in the world did not disappoint, truly a sight to see! DO it. 
Extra Tips- If you are military stay at the Hardy Barracks- Its $50 a night- no matter rank. Its not pretty, think your old College Dorm (smells like it too, which was nostalgic in a good way) But I'm still gonna toot its horn. Continental breakfast, suite type rooms, 8 minute walk to the subway and located in the very nice high-end neighborhood of Roppongi. We did use the subway a bunch and found that using the Pasmo/Suica card was easiest. Load money once and add as you go. We also used Uber and LOVED it. Very very nice cars, drivers dressed in suits. I felt very VIP about the whole thing. 

YOKOHAMA-Beautiful water front city, 45 minute train ride from Tokyo. Trick eye museum inside of mall, Orbi Museum (bug exhibit) and CUP noodles museum is a must. Interactive creative museum telling the story of the creator of the cup noodles, Momofuku. Do this early unlike us so the kids can make their own cup noodles in the factory, wonderful activity. We got there late in the day and tickets were sold out. But the museum is still worth paying the 500yen to walk around.

Top 6 things to do in Oahu with kids

July 04, 2017
This was my third trip to oahu! It's beautiful, breezy and dreamy as I remember it the first two times, but this time I was with my 5 and 10 year old! It's wonderful to experience this place through their eyes. Here's what we loved the most with recommendations for all the other great must-do things in Oahu too.

1. Dole Plantation- Pineapples everywhere, maze, train ride, and wonderful shop. Bring lots of money because everything costs here, but its still pretty great and a staple in Oahu.

Our Memorial Day in Okinawa Japan

May 27, 2017
We've been in the Marine Corps for 15 years now and Memorial Day gets harder and harder. Knowing more people who we've loved and lost is painful and using Memorial Day to recognize their memory and sacrifice feels like some relief.

This year I used our location to pave the way for the overall theme and feel of the gathering. The event was seaside and the textiles were hand-dyed in the Japanese shibori technique, giving a distinct Japanese nod to our location.
To those families who grieve everyday, our prayers are with you and your heroes are not forgotten.

Koinobori in Okinawa

April 26, 2017
My favorite time of year in Okinawa is children's holiday called koinobori where they fly colorful flying carp banners to signify a hopeful future for children!! LOVE all that color!