How do you still carve out time to play as a family as the kids get older? Family game time used to come easily and often in our family. But, as time has progressed that simple down time seems to come at a premium.

Friends, sports and activities leave us little time for family togetherness. It’s up to us as parents to actually schedule in some play time for our families. Now, don’t let the kids know that you’ve got a family fun agenda brewing. That will be a sure way to lose every last one of them to making a plan of their own.

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It’s hard to believe that today-June 2- marks the one year anniversary of when we headed off in our newly purchased motorhome on our family sabbatical around the USA. It’s been one year since we left and six months since we returned. Time sure does fly!

This past year has no doubt been one of the best of our lives. Traveling for 6 months and then reflecting on that experience for the next 6 has made for an amazing year. Our sabbatical introduced us to so many like-minded people- in person and virtually- that we would’ve never met in our routine daily life at home.

Tomer Lanis and his family are an inspiration as they also pulled out of life and spent 6 months sailing the Caribbean. Lanis sent me his book You Can Take Six Months Off I thoroughly enjoyed reading and relating to so much of their adventure. Although our means of travel were drastically different, our passion, dedication and determination were the same.


The Lanis Family enjoying Maho Beach, St. John, USVI along their 6 month sabbatical sailing around the Caribbean.

If you would love to take six months off and travel with your family or if you have done it before, you will enjoy this read. It is interesting and inspiring at the same time. One chapter is dedicated to a Mind Map that breaks down the multitude of interconnected tasks that may intimidate anyone thinking of taking their own time out. I really liked the way Lanis spelled out 16 tasks that their family worked through to prepare for their sabbatical.

Excerpts from the book that inspired me and that I totally related to in why we took six months off as well:

“The purpose of the trip is neither the destination nor the activity. It is my family- dedicating time for each other, intensifying our bonds, and expanding our horizons. Staying at home is incomparable because the experience is too familiar and static. Endless distractions steal your attention from your family.”

Love your life? So do we. It’s ok to just take a break from it! It can all still be there when you return.

“I have read about and met others who had taken longer breaks. They sold their house and quit their jobs. For me, that would be too much to lose. I love my life at home and truly enjoy my work I appreciate my social network and am lucky to own a home in a beautiful location. I don’t want to give all that up. I would like to pursue my dreams without sacrificing my current life. Six months, for that purpose, is the ideal duration for me to be away.”

“I am neither the first nor the only one to realize that taking my spouse and kids for a time out of the rat race is the best use of my resources- my money, my energy and my time. Allowing my job, the kids’ school, our mortgage or my comfort zone to take control of my life would certainly lead to regret.”

No Date- No Commitment

“Setting the date means making a commitment. In principle, no date is convenient for interrupting our routine life, leaving our home and putting our jobs on hold. While you’re immersed in daily tasks and the career race, any date seems to be the worst possible timing. There is no wrong timing for dedicating time to each other. Any date will do.”

Put your job on hold

“Taking time off- or not- is my decision. Letting me return to my job when I’m back- or not- is my manager’s decision. My employer is not the master of my life, I am. They are not responsible for my dreams, I am. If I’m not wanted back at work after my absence, then I am probably in the wrong place anyway.”

Connect with Tomer Lanis on his website. His book You Can Take Six Months Off would make a great Fathers Day gift. Purchase it here on Amazon.

How exactly do you go about raising relational kids in today’s screen driven world?

Growing Up Social, a joint effort release, by Gary Chapman and Arlene Pellicane, is full of thought-provoking wisdom and helpful ideas for anyone raising kids today. I honestly could envision my name being listed as the third contributor of this book, as I am on exactly the same page as the authors.


If you question the screen usage in your family and home, than Growing Up Social is a must-have! In general, I love reading books that give me new ideas on parenting and others that motivate me to continue on exactly the path that I am called to already. Growing Up Social helped empower and encourage me as well as gave me new tools to teach healthy life skills to my children.

I wrote an article recently for Seattle’s ParentMap Magazine about Why Our Teens Don’t Have Cell Phones. We are purposeful about limiting screen use in our family. It can be difficult sometimes for sure, but it is a crucial part of our job as parents nowadays. Those tech devices you see surrounding the book there, are all mine. I rarely use the iPad, now that I have my Macbook, but my family gave it to me as a gift awhile back and it serves as a good backup. I have never had my emails stream to any of these devices. I can absolutely grab my emails off of any of them when I decide I want them, but nothing comes through automatically.

The same is true with my Social Media channels. The Apps are there, but nothing dings to tell me anyone has liked my status or that something awaits me. I can choose when I want to go in and browse around. I have missed some last-minute emails for our kid’s sports teams choosing this route for sure, but I want to do my best to be mindful of not always having a device in hand and I think it’s good to model this for our children as well. So many people are on social media and everywhere you look, there is someone staring down at their phones.

We used credit card points to get all of the kids IPads with this trip in mind. We do want our kids to be able to start navigating Instagram, texting and the web and find it much easier to be on top of this with them using a big Ipad.  The Ipad never leaves this RV, unless there is a specific reason and usage is pretty limited. The Ipad isn’t something that they can easily carry around with them at all times, like a smartphone. Screen time is limited just by this fact alone.

I also loved in chapter two of Growing Up Social, where Arlene talked about her kids just saying with ease, “Just buy it on Amazon.” Can’t we all relate to this? Boy, do I love me some Amazon, because it is true. You can find anything and everything on that site! We experience our kids saying this exact thing all of the time on this trip.

Our son found a book series that he really wants to start reading, but we can’t find Book One anywhere… yet. We went on Amazon and sure enough, it is there and could easily be ordered and shipped to us free in two days with my Prime Membership. But, real-life doesn’t work this way and we need to be mindful of teaching our kids the art of patience! Cole and I have run into many a bookstore with the slim chance of finding this book and it would be much easier to just order it already. Much easier. Like the authors in the book say, “Advances in technology allow us all to get what we want when we want it. It is no longer necessary to make sacrifices.” I want our kids to know that it’s ok to wait for something. Maybe even healthy.

We cannot always take the easy route if we are looking out for our children and trying to teach them life lessons along the way. If he hasn’t found his book by the time we get home to Arizona, I will absolutely let him use his money and order it off of Amazon. He will have had the chance to learn to wait for something he really wants, instead of instantly ordering it online just because he can.


Now to the Author Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages series. I hope you already know all about them, but just in case… I am a huge fan of the books and have loved learning to parent my kids according to their love language, of which they all differ. It is so helpful to use in your marriage as well. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, then you now have two books to buy.. Growing Up Social and The Five Love Languages! I own all three of these titles above and have given them as gifts many times!


I am a big lover of travel guide books. I’ve been using them long before the internet was available. Frommer’s and Foders Guides were all I used before I had the web at my fingertips! I still love balancing a travel book in hand along with my beloved online trip advisor!

Eileen Ogintz, the author of The Kids Guides , sent us three different books for our kids to try out along our trip around the USA- Boston, New York and Washington DC.  We enjoyed all of the tips we learned from these little books!


These books are awesome for many reasons:

The guides are:

  • geared toward only kid-friendly activities and places, which is not the case with other travel books.
  • geared toward kids 6-12 and they were very reader-friendly for our four who are at the upper end of the recommended age group.
  • very compact making them the ideal size to carry along in a purse/backpack.

We found the books perfect to keep the kids occupied and learning on the trains and public transportation that we were on in all of the cities. I brought along little post-it-note flags that the kids could mark pages when they found things that interested them. It also helped the kids feel like they were a part of the planning!


The books include various games and quizzes that the kids can work on as well. I thought about photocopying each activity since we have four kids and only one book, but the activities are a bit young for our newly turned teens, so they happily took turns. It’s something to keep in mind though before you leave on your trip if your kids would each enjoy working on the activities!

We would’ve loved to have simple maps included in the books where we could get an idea of where the noted spots were located. It would’ve helped in our planning for sure. The kids also pointed out that the books talked about doing things from your hotel, even though we were staying at a campground!

Our family loved using these books and we look forward to checking out other city guides in the future! These Kids Guides would make perfect stocking stuffers for anyone planning an upcoming trip. The books can be purchased through Amazon, Barnes and Noble and on Eileen’s website Taking the Kids!