Iceland :: Southern Region (Part One)

The adventure of a lifetime. I really don’t even know where to start.

I have been scrolling through almost 2,000 photos trying to narrow them down to make it an appropriate amount for a blog post, you know, enough to keep you entertained, but not too many to bore you… do to the abundance of experiences we had and sights we saw, I have decided to split our Iceland trip into three separate posts just to make sure I don’t leave anything out, and I’m starting with the southern region.  If you click on the titles of each subsections, it will take you to a link of the location.

I must preface this by saying we did not do the “golden circle” which consists of the most commonly visited three spots in Iceland (Þingvellir, Gullfoss Waterfall, and Haukadalur geothermal features & geysers). We decided we wanted to see some touristy spots, but mostly wanted to do what most people didn’t do when they were in Iceland. We drove the entire country. THE. ENTIRE. COUNTRY. It was a big loop around, we drove for hours and hours on end, and it was amazing!

So here I am writing this post, and I’m going to start with the area where most people who visit Iceland stay and really don’t leave. The south. And yes, the southern region of Iceland is incredible. There is just so much to see and do, there’s no way anyone could do everything available in one week, let alone 3 days which is how long Husband & I were willing to stay in this region.

The Blue Lagoon

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We started at the Blue Lagoon, where we stayed in the hotel, Silica Hotel. The best part of staying at the hotel is that we didn’t have to go to the overly crowded big lagoon, the hotel had its own private lagoon that only guests were invited to use. When you are ready to enjoy the geothermal bath, they ask that you shower first. When you get in there are definitely hotter spots than others, but overall the whole bath is very comfortable considering you are in Iceland and the air temperatures are between 40- 50 degrees (in June). Also, there are silica particles that people use as a mask for their face and body all over the bottom of the bath that feels a lot like… what I can best describe it as is… SLIME! I chose not to put it on my body, but most everyone was. I have sensitive skin, so I didn’t want to have a bad breakout at the beginning of my trip. Another thing, DO NOT GET YOUR HAIR WET. It destroys your strands, so trust me, don’t do it as tempting as it may be. Other than the slime and the hair issue, this was a really relaxing and fun experience. Husband & I did it two nights in a row and loved it!

We did eat at the on site restaurant, Lava, one night and the food was very good (pictured above).  The top picture is a view from our room. The terrain of the land almost feels like you are on another planet.  Insane.

Westman Islands & Elephant Rock

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The first full day that we were in Iceland, I had planned for us to visit the Westman Islands.  We took a mini plane from the mainland, and got to see an aerial view of the islands which are spread out around the southern coast.  We planned a tour by boat with Ribsafari and it did not disappoint!  It was AWESOME!  We got to check two things off my list of “Things I MUST See”: puffins & elephant rock.  We also saw something I had never heard of, right next to Elephant Rock there was a rock that the locals call “Dinosaur Drinking”  Do you see what I am talking about in the pictures above?  Look hard :)

Seljalandsfoss

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This was the first of about a million waterfalls we went chasing while we were in Iceland.  The coolest part of visiting this one is that it’s the only waterfall in Iceland that you can physically go behind and see from behind the fall.  Such a cool experience!

Vik

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We saw a lot more of the southern region before we got to Vik, which I will talk about in the next post, but I wanted to put Vik in on this one since it’s such a touristy spot to hit when in the southern region.  The black sand beaches are absolutely stunning against the grey water of the ocean.  The roaring cliffs just steps from the ocean are awe inspiring.  To say that this was one of my favorite spots on the trip would not be a lie.  We spent quite a bit of time here and I would love to see this again with my babies some day…

Hope you are enjoying the trip so far, it takes a long time for me to organize, edit, and publish these blog posts, so bare with me for the next one!


The Matriarchs

This year for Mother’s Day, I thought a sweet little session with my favorite photographer (Laura Gattis) would be the perfect gift for the two mamas in my life. We spent a morning with an extremely uncooperative Bennett, but I still think the pictures turned out gorgeous!  These women deserve the world for all they do to help me.  We all know it takes a village to raise kids!  They love and adore my children like their own and that is invaluable to Husband & I.

Enjoy the sneak peek, mama’s!  Happy early Mother’s Day!  We love y’all so much!

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Bennett Wesley :: Three Years Old

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Today, at 10:15 AM, my oldest boy turned three.  He was greeted with balloons galore, a yard sign (which he could see from his bedroom window), and homemade blueberry muffins!!  Just kidding, the muffins were store bought, ain’t no one got time for that… Regardless, he had a pretty magical morning to start off his third year alive with a bang!

This little dude… he’s seriously the light of my life.  He has such a unique personality that is always changing and evolving.  Lately his speech has been growing rapidly with Husband & I, yet he will not say a peep to strangers and he is still very shy even with close friends.  His favorite activity continues to be swimming, but riding on mama’s bike is a close second.  I love spending every Thursday picking him up from school early to enjoy lunch together (with Remy), grab a cupcake from Sprinkles, then go to music class where he can dance and play instruments for about an hour.  He has become so in tune with this routine, I feel bad if there’s ever a Thursday we can’t make it.

He is awesome with all his numbers, colors, animals, and ABC’s.  ‘B’ is his favorite of course because “‘B’ is for BENNETT!”.  He also knows that ‘R’ is for Remy, but it’s not said in the excited voice that ‘B’ gets.  We still spend our evenings on the front porch drinking apple juice and reading books.  Right now his favorite book is Pout Pout Fish, we seriously read it about twelve times a day.  His teacher actually got him that book for Christmas and he has loved it every day since he got it.  Speaking of his teacher, he is still loving school.  I’m amazed at how much he has learned since he started a year ago…

He gets his haircut pretty regularly now, along with little bro. He is such a handsome little boy, I can’t get over how precious he is!  We go in tomorrow for his three year physical and I cannot wait to hear how tall he is and how much he weighs.  I think he recently has gone through a growth spurt because he was eating a lot more than usual.  He is SO tall!  Much taller than the kids in his class and the kids in his play group!  As much as I love that he is tall, it’s a little frustrating when parents who don’t know him and his age, think that he is older than he is.  So he will have a meltdown at times and they look at me like, get your five year old under control… and I make sure to point out the fact that he is barely three and that’s just the way three year olds roll!  Thank you very much (read in a sassy tone)!  But this is a very rare occurrence, most often than not, he is a very sweet boy and doesn’t cause big scenes.  He mostly does that at home… just for me ;)

Next Saturday (the 12th), after all the grandparents are back from their European excursion, we will be celebrating Bennett BIG TIME at Old McMicky’s Farm.  So, I will post about his party later this month, but until then, just a few words from this mama…

My first son, Bennett,

What a special human you are!  Everything about you brings joy to my life.  How smart you are, your precious little voice, your competitiveness (which I’m already starting to see), how good of a swimmer you are, your fabulous dance moves, when you share with your brother… these are all things I am so proud of!  You melt my heart with those big hugs you sometimes freely give, and the public smooches, though very rare… well… I could bottle that up and store them forever!!  Seriously the BEST!  When you hold my hand walking to church… or when you say my name about fifty bajillion times because you have something very important to say or ask… or when I catch you playing the piano or ukulele… or when you are playing nicely with brother and you both start cracking up out of the blue!!  Oh, this mama is just so happy to have you as her own!

I don’t know what my life would be like without your precious face in it every day.  I want you to know that you are so loved!  Every.single.day my love for you is deep and never ending!  You and your brother are my greatest accomplishments and I couldn’t have imagined a better life than this one with you guys!  You, Bennett, are absolute perfection in my eyes, I adore you so!  Please continue to stay curious for anything in life, continue to learn with a never ending pit in your head for knowledge, continue to try to be patient and to love your brother (he’s the only one who will have your back in life when your parents aren’t there to help), and continue to enjoy the simple things in life like you do!

I love you, my baby.

Mama


Disney Magic :: First Timers

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Y’all, we finally did it!  We braved Disney with our kids!  It’s pretty obvious what all went down from looking at the photos, so I’m not going to write out a full post about our weekend at Disney World, but just know… it was THE BEST!  Cannot wait to do it again!

Just some blog humor for you guys…

Blog pictures (above) versus reality:

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Siete Años :: Love is my Religion

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Hello, hello!  Husband & I just got back from our anniversary vacay in Jamaica!  How in the world has it been seven years already?!?  And I was also thinking about it earlier, this year in July we will have been together for TEN years!

We stayed in an over the water bungalow at the Sandals Royal Caribbean in Montego Bay, and it did not disappoint!  These bungalows are incredible!  And in fact, these are the first of their kind in the entire Caribbean!  We were able to jump off our deck straight into open water to snorkel, there were plenty of great restaurants right on property, so we really didn’t leave at all!  We did go out snorkeling in the reefs which consisted of us getting on a boat, but other than that… we stayed put!  The resort is super close to the airport which made travel time non- existent, when you are going on a trip like this, you want to spend as little time in transport.  Needless to say, Husband & I had a wonderful time!

As for our sweet anniversary, Husband arranged for a candlelight dinner right on our deck in our room.  It was perfect and the food (made right in our bungalow) was amazing!  Husband is seriously one of a kind.  I’m so lucky to be his wife and to have him as the father of our two boys.  He is such a great role model for them, showing them how a husband should take care of their family.  He is so generous, loves to travel anywhere I want, and treats me like a queen!  He doesn’t mind if the house is messy, if the laundry’s not done, if the kids are throwing fits… he is so patient and kind hearted.  I love him so, so much.  He makes my life unbelievably blessed just because he is in it.

Love you, Husband.

Cheers to seven years!


Washington D.C., 2018

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Hey there!  I wanted to toss this pile of pictures from our weekend trip to D.C. up here on the bloggity blog before weeks pass and I lose all the details from my memory (which tends to happen more frequently now that I have kids and am getting older).  We really packed as much stuff into the two days we were there and when we got home on Easter Sunday we were completely wiped!  But I was so proud of all we accomplished!

When we arrived Friday we were off and running right away.  We dropped our bags at our gorgeous hotel, The Jefferson, then walked the few blocks to admire the White House.  It was not nearly as crazy as I thought it would be considering the polarizing views of the nation right now.  For some reason I thought there would be people protesting all around the property and vendors trying to sell anti trump loot… and maybe it’s because secret service keeps that kind of thing to a minimum because we did see vendors in other locations, but not directly in front of the residence.  It was so interesting seeing individuals with “Make America Great Again” baseball hats on standing next to another individual with “Dump Trump” across the chest of their t-shirt.  The White House was beautiful, the lawn was perfectly manicured (as expected) and seeing it as an adult you feel how honorable it would be to call that your home for four to eight years.  I had been to D.C. once as a kid, but I didn’t appreciate the trip or understand the meanings of the memorials completely.  This was Husband’s first trip to the Capitol so it was so nice to enjoy it together.

After the White House, we moved on to the Newseum.  This museum was highly recommended to us so it was a “must see” on our list.  I was really excited when I read up on the exhibits they are currently displaying, the first thing we wanted to experience was the Pulitzer Prize Photography Gallery.  I read a good quote from Eddie Adams, a Pulitzer Prize winner from 1969.  He said, ““If it makes you laugh, if it makes you cry, if it rips out your heart, that’s a good picture.”. SO TRUE!  Walking through the gallery was a mix of every emotion you could possibly have, so if you go, bring your kleenex!  So many incredibly moving photos of a moment in time that effected history in some way or another.  So many stories… stories of violence, starvation, illness, war, victories, drug use, immigration, life.  It was one of the most beautifully disturbing displays of photography I have ever experienced. The museum also had an exhibit for the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s death that we checked out, which is always something I like to read about and see pictures of.  He was such an inspiring gentleman, his words effect me deeply every single time I hear or read them.  Growing up as a child in Texas and up through adult hood I have seen and heard many racist comments and jokes, and really didn’t think anything of it.  Now, as a parent with small children, it is my mission to not put that hatred and disgusting language into my boy’s growing minds.  All we should spread is love, never hate.  I wish Dr. King was still alive and that his mission for civil rights had been completed.  He left us too soon.

Friday evening we had made reservations at Marcel’s which was a total dining experience.  We went ahead and did the seven course chef tasting menu along with ALL the wine pairings.  Every single plate that emerged from the kitchen was impeccably displayed with perfect artistry and the food… oh my!  The food was fabulous!

Day two was all about cherry blossoms and monuments.  Most of the monuments & memorials we ended up seeing at night because we heard that it’s less crowded in the evening- which after doing this, I have found to be totally true- but the three we visited during the day were the Thomas Jefferson MemorialWashington Monument, and the World War II Memorial.  It was seriously the most perfect day out, blue skies with no clouds in sight.  The cherry blossoms were just starting to pop, so we didn’t get to experience the full bloom blossoms, but they were still gorgeous!

In the afternoon we visited the Arlington National Cemetery where the Kennedy’s are buried and where they perform the changing of the guard for the tomb of the unknown solider.  What a powerful thing to see!  Highly recommend if you are in D.C.!

We visited the Lincoln MemorialVietnam Veterans Memorial (slightly scary), World War I MemorialMartin Luther King Jr. Memorial, and the FDR Memorial.  When we were exiting the Lincoln Memorial and looking down at the Reflecting Pool you couldn’t help but notice that shining bright in the sky was a perfect full blue moon.  Check out the final picture in this post!  It was amazing!

And of course our trip to D.C. would not have been complete without seeing the Capitol Building!  I feel like we barely scratched the surface of our nations capitol on this trip, and am so looking forward to the next time we go!  We will definitely be taking our boys with us- such a kid friendly city with fun festivals, museums, and ton of parks to explore!  Hope you enjoy the pictures!

‘Til next time D.C., thanks for a memorable weekend!


Cayman Islands, 2018

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Hey everyone!  Sorry I have been super busy/ lazy these last few weeks and haven’t updated in a hot minute.  About two weeks ago Husband & I went to a meeting in the Caymans, and unfortunately while we were there I got news that my grandmother was not doing well and within 24 hours she had passed.  It was a tough week.  As soon as I returned home, I turned around the next morning to head to Houston for the funeral, and it’s just been the biggest whirlwind of life.  I feel like I really haven’t had a moment to process all that has been happening… So much tragedy in such a short amount of time.  Part of me just wants to ignore it and keep on keepin’ on, then, when I sit down to write about it (now that I have an afternoon to think about it while the baby is napping, the dogs aren’t sick, and my big boy is at school) it’s soul crushing.  Deflating.  Just… sad.

Just like my Grandma Kellum, my Grandma Olson was just as wonderful.  She raised 7 children (all boys & one girl), has a beautiful legacy with many grandchildren and great grandchildren, and was a firm believer in God.  She always had amazingly wise words of advice and no matter what she faced she handled it with such grace.  I am going to miss everything about her, especially her contagious smile.  My dad had the same exact smile.

Getting back to the trip though… man, it was a beautiful trip.  Saw some good friends, met some new friends, did Stingray City again.  Remember last time Husband & I were in the Caymans??  And how pregnant I was??  Remember the proof I went in the water with the stingrays?  I hated it then, and to be honest, I didn’t enjoy it this time either.  I think that will be the last time I go to Stingray City. Ha ha ha!

The last full day we were there, Husband & I took a helicopter tour around the island to get a different perspective.  It was incredible!  If you look at the very last picture above, you can see a shipwreck!  The picture with all the white boats and ant sized people in the water is an aerial view of Stingray City.  The water is seriously the most incredible rainbow of teals, aquamarines, and indigo.  So pretty!

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Husband & I also had one day off to do whatever we wanted so we decided to check out the Cayman Crystal Caves.  It’s probably one of the coolest things I have ever seen.  Yes, there were lots of bats, and yes, the mosquitos were annoying, but the insides of these caves are truly a sight to be seen!  Highly recommend if you are going to be traveling to the Caymans!

Hope everyone’s having a great week and getting through hump day- two more days ’til the weekend!

xoxo