Family-Friendly Vacation

Last week, my husband surprised us! He made reservations at Lost Pines Hyatt Resort in Balstrop, TX ( For all you Texas moms, it is about 1.5 hours from San Antonio (near Austin).

We spent the last three days enjoying family time and making fun memories. It was a wonderful little getaway to end our summer break.

I didn’t anticipate writing about the resort where we stayed, but it was so awesome that I want to recommend it. And, no … I don’t get any benefit or perks for promoting their hotel. This is not a paid advertisement 🙂

This place reminded us of the resort where “Dirty Dancing” was filmed, minus the dirty dancing. Well, I guess the staff could’ve had a secret meeting spot each night and got their groove on, but we were fast asleep by 11p because we were so exhausted!

There were activities each day — horse-drawn carriage rides, three-legged races, worm diggin’, petting zoo, wiffle ball, sponge tag, etc. In addition to the activities, the waterpark is wonderful. It has a lazy river, beach-style pool & sand (we made lots of sandcastles), basketball & volleyball nets, waterslide (which was perfect for my kids’ ages, seven and four). Every night, we made s’mores on the firepit. And, a movie follows on the lawn with unlimited popcorn and the hotel provides blankets so we could stretch out under the big, beautiful Texas sky. All of these activities are included with your resort rate. Just so you can get an idea, I took a picture of the event planner for this past weekend.

We went hiking on the trails in the morning. There are also bikes available, provided with your stay. The kids took their scooters and loved riding on all the paths.

Since the resort is located on the Colorado River, there are also other activities at an additional cost — kayaking, white water rafting, horseback riding (minimum age is 8 for most of these). There is also golfing, adult and youth spas.

The cost of the resort is more expensive than a normal hotel, but it was well worth it. And, they offer package deals. We were so impressed with the facility, activities and friendliness of the staff that we plan to make it an annual tradition for our family.

Vacationing with kids can sometimes be chaotic. But, this was just what we needed – relaxing, peaceful, restful. Now, we’re ready for the crazy schedule that the school year brings!

Here are some pictures:

{Gummy} Worm Diggin'

{We caught this armadillo digging through the mulch}

{Carter and the alpaca had a staring contest}

{Just made s'mores, movie set-up}

Do you have any favorite family-friendly vacation spots?

7 Ideas for a Happy Marriage

Matt & I celebrated our 12th wedding anniversary this weekend. Since my parents divorced when I was three, the concept of marriage used to terrify me. I know the statistics. Now, though, I cherish this wonderful gift and thank God for showing me the truth. I’ve learned a lot along the way and continue to grow with each life lesson. Here are seven things I’ve discovered that make for a happy marriage:

1.             Commitment.  We both love God and are committed to having Jesus as our foundation. When a husband and wife are seeking God with their whole heart always, God will seal their commitment to one another and provide a peaceful stability. On a personal level, trust has always been difficult for me because of my parent’s divorce. But, I’ve learned – when two people are fully committed to God and each other, it really is safe to trust. Commitment isn’t just a declaration you make at the beginning of your marriage, though, I believe commitment is a daily, minute-by-minute choice.

2.             Communication.  We talk about everything. Sometimes it’s not easy to tell him my true feelings, but I do. Often, I start out my sentence by saying, “I know this is silly, but you’re my best friend and I want to talk about this.” Be vulnerable and honest with your spouse about everything. No exceptions. It is tough, but communicating the difficult things always takes your relationship to the next level.

3.             Love.  We both have our own faults and love each other with lots of grace. I am talking about those annoying little things — socks on the floor, toothpaste splatter on the mirror, toilet lid up. Do you
notice I only mentioned the things that annoy me? He has his own extensive list of my faults! Ha!

4.             Respect.  We don’t yell, curse or call each other names. Do we have disagreements? All the time. But, we always maintain respect. Another note about this, we respect each other’s goals and provide encouragement. I always say – Matt believes in me more than I believe in myself!

5.             Physical Intimacy.  Okay, I wouldn’t be real if I didn’t mention this, but a blog may not be the most appropriate place to have this discussion. I’ll keep it simple – God intended sex for marriage. So, it is a gift to be enjoyed … a lot 🙂

6.             Teamwork.  Life can sometimes get messy and neither of us know everything. We will always be learning and growing together. With our children, we are a united team. We talk about issues behind closed doors, then we use one set of rules for the kids so there is no confusion. As for our finances, we both work on our budget together. Early on in our marriage, the one in charge of the checkbook seemed to be telling the other one how much to spend. It created tension. With our personalities, we’ve found it’s better to work out a system of doing the family finances together so we’re always on the same page.

7.             Fun.  No marriage is perfect, but figure out what works best for you and enjoy it! Laugh often and be silly. When someone is in a bad mood in our family, we normally break out in a dance party, with some upbeat music, to get everyone happy again! Marriage is fun 🙂

These work for us! What else would you add to the list? Do you have any tips for a successful marriage?

{sweet card from our daughter}