diy home decor Featured

Exciting Announcement! The StrongLuv Relationship Experiment

strong marriage
Dreaming about, designing, and writing content for Home Sweet Road has been one of those unexpected joys of my life this past year and a half.  It has taken me by surprise how much I have genuinely enjoyed the process of being stretched to learn new technology and grow in my writing skills — don’t look too closely, I have a ways to go on that front!

At first I set out to journal our epic road trip, then as I got a little further in I wanted to create a family travel blog filled with resources to make it easier for other families to connect with and adventure together.  I committed myself to that effort but as time went by I found myself being pulled more and more towards writing about family life and relationship dynamics rather than travel.

A bit of a dilemma for a travel blog!

I wanted to pour myself into my work not just my time.  I wanted the hours to feel meaningful after they were spent.  To meet important needs my readers had.  I struggled with being limited to sharing my knowledge and enthusiasm around such a narrow topic.

Conversely, I lit up when I was able to share more personal posts and dig into the raw, messy parts of life.

Posts like:

Home Sweet Road has been a labor of love so instead of radically changing it I’ve decided to keep it a place where people can get inspired and equip for the adventures in front of them.  I’m excited to share our personal travels and other helpful tips in the months ahead!

The big news is….drum roll please…. David and I are starting a new blog!!!  You guys, this is so exciting for us.

We are kicking off our new Relationship Blog,, with three 21 day experiments in hopes of creating a Stronger bonds in the relationships that matter most.

  • Phase 1 – 21 days of practical and actionable ways to have a Stronger Marriage
  • Phase 2 – 21 days of practical and actionable ways to have a Stronger Family
  • Phase 3 – 21 days of practical and actionable ways to have a Stronger Community

For a more in depth breakdown you can read more about The Strong Luv Experiment.

We are far from experts on relational matters yet feel compelled to share our journey in hopes of it striking a chord with those of you who are frustrated with our increasingly isolated culture.  Live Passionately, Love Extravagantly is how I sign off after every blog post because it has been our motto since we got married.  The StrongLuv Project fits into that mission perfectly.

David and I are committed to sharing honestly what is working and what is disastrous along the way.  Our greatest goal is to Love Fully and Fearlessly.  We hope you’ll do the same and join us on a little LUVolution!

Emily Oak


City Guide Featured Our Travels Reviews

Santa Ynez Valley-Solvang California Worldmark

town of solvang californiaVineyards and wineries abound in the lush and beautiful Santa Ynez Valley.  If you enjoy wine you will love the quaint Danish town of Solvang, California.  But since wine country is not usually associated with family fun, I thought I would write a review of our time at the Santa Ynez Valley – Solvang California Worldmark Resort to help you decide whether or not you want to add Solvang to your vacation itinerary!

We stayed at the Solvang Worldmark near the beginning of our Epic Road Trip and were so happy with our experience there.  While the town was far from engineered for children, the Worldmark Resort itself was perfect for our three kids! 

worldmark solvang california

worldmark solvang

solvang worldmark

solvang worldmark resort

solvang california worldmark

The Solvang Worldmark Resort was smaller than some of the fancier places we stayed and didn’t have staff led activities any of the days we were there but with a foosball table, pool table, and table tennis in the clubhouse along with an open movie viewing area, the kids were pretty happy regardless.

By far the best part for me was the 1’6″ kiddie pool.  While I hung out in the hot tub they could play in the pool without me worrying about them drowning.  Since none of our kids knew how to swim at the time it was always a little overwhelming taking all three of them to the pool by myself.

Of all the resorts and hotels we stayed in on our 4 month road trip, this pool was by far my favorite for that one reason!

solvang worldmark pool

solvang california worldmark pool

What we liked about Solvang California Worldmark:

  • The Worldmark Resort was very kid friendly
  • The main part of the town is a short walk from the Worldmark
  • While not the most luxurious accommodations Worldmark Solvang was fresh, clean, and was perfectly suited for a family getaway
  • The kiddie pool, of coarse!
  • A nice family game area
  • Grilling Patios
  • Friendly front desk and facility personnel

solvang california worldmark clubhouse

solvang california clubhouse

What we didn’t like about Solvang California Worldmark:

  • No bike trails nearby – though there is a short path behind the resort which would be a good place for a short walk

*We were in no way compensated for staying at Worldmark Solvang and writing this review…we just liked it that much:)

Tips for Traveling to Solvang with Kids:

  • Eat out for lunch in order to experience the authentic Danish cuisine with out breaking the bank.
  • There is a Subway on Mission- the main strip if your kids don’t like to try different kinds of food.
  • If you are NOT staying at the Worldmark make sure to research beforehand to ensure there is stuff for them to do where you will be staying.
  • Don’t miss Ostrich Land.  A local ostrich farm where you can feed the big birds!  Click on that link to watch a funny video of our time there!!!
  • Pastries galore in town – Yumm!  And many are big enough to share!

visit solvang california

The town is well kept and feels like a great little getaway from the hustle and bustle you associate with California.  I would love to go there again!

I hope you found this review helpful.  I heartily recommend staying at this worldmark, especially if you are going to Solvang with your children.  I also wrote about FREE things to do in Santa Barbara if you are interested!

Emily Oak Home Sweet Road


Education Featured Printables

Business Ideas for Kids Series – Writing a Business Plan

business plan worksheet kidsWe are getting ready for summer and you know what that means around these parts? We start thinking about business ideas for kids and strategically planning with them what they want to do to flex their young entrepreneurial muscles.

We wanted to dive a little deeper with them this year then we have the last couple, so I created a business plan worksheet for them. Honestly, I don’t care if they want to sell water for the rest of their lives, I just want them to grow and get better at it every year.

Come to think of it, the water business may be the wave of the future.  I can see it now — Headline: The Water Boys buy majority rights to Aquafina.

Stranger things have happened!

Our boys have not yet nailed down exactly what they want to do this summer regarding business, but when they do they’ll have this handy Business Plan Worksheet ready and waiting for them!

In the meantime, if your kid’s have a big idea, it’s here for them to benefit from as well!  The only thing I ask from you is that you share it on FB, Pinterest, or with your friends in some way.  Let’s get the word out so as many children can benefit from this resource as possible!

business plan for kids
[Click to Print]

I hope this business plan worksheet helps your kids (and mine) dissect some of their ideas and come out with a more concise, profitable plan.

I know they are young, but kids have a unique ability to quickly gain new skills and proficiency.  If a simple practice like this will help them understand and see their budding business in new ways, and help them think outside of the box, I’m in!

If you use this worksheet, make sure to let me know how it goes. Also, if there is an important component to the plan that I missed, please let me know!
Emily Oak

City Guide family fun Featured northwest Our Travels seattle

Franklin Falls Hike Near Snoqualmie Pass

The hiking trails in the Pacific Northwest are some of the most coveted in the world, and Franklin Falls near Snoqualmie Pass far exceeded all my expectations!

franklin fallsOur friend had been telling us about the Franklin Falls hike for a long time and when we finally had the chance to get there we didn’t want to leave — if you are anywhere near the Seattle area, you should definitely check it out.  It’s a really special place.franklin falls 6franklin fallsfranklin fallsThe boys enjoyed traversing over big boulders and getting their feet (and shoes) wet in the river.  But don’t worry if you have smaller children – the trail itself doesn’t require these feats of bravery!franklin falls wawalking on waterThe trail is the perfect distance for kids and other than a bit of a tricky climb if you want to go down into the falls, it’s a very easy trek.  If you are up for a little extra challenge, the hike down to the falls is worth the effort.  We had fun splashing around in the water and getting close to the falls.

The water is cold, so be warned!

franklin fallsIsn’t it beautiful?

We had so much fun on our hike at Franklin Falls!

I still can’t believe we live just half an hour away from this kind of beauty. I pinch myself every day. If it would have been up to me we would not be living here at all — I’m so so thankful that God knew best and brought us back home.

Emily Oak Home Sweet Road

Featured Our Travels

A Hero is Born at The Ridge Tahoe

the ridge tahoe The morning our little guy became a hero, we were turned away from the pool because the maintenance man at the Ridge Tahoe had just shooed away a mama bear and her two cubs from taking a nice dip in the pool.  Little did we know that was only the first close call we would have that morning.

When we were finally granted entrance, it was still pretty brisk so the kids and I all sat in the hot tub visiting with a nice retired gentleman ……. when all of a sudden I hear screams from the pool.  I looked over and Biggie was holding Girlr, kicking his feet with all of his might as he bobbed up and down — water sputtering out of his mouth.

The kids had been asking to get in the pool and I was halfway out of the hot tub, finishing my conversation with the retired schoolteacher, when it all went haywire.

Biggie and E quietly slipped into the pool with their lifejackets, when Girlr thought she should join them.   She didn’t have her life vest on because I didn’t make her wear it in the hot tub since she was never more than an arms length away.

It all happened so quickly.  Time slowed way down and it felt like I was running through molasses as I respond to Biggie’s screams for help.

Needless to say, I was so thankful for his quick action.  He really did save her from drowning!

the ridge tahoe poolThat’s right buddy, take a load off. It’s been a big day!kid saves kid drowningNot bad to hit hero status at the tender age of 5, eh?!

I’m so proud of you Biggie.  You are loyal, strong, generous, thoughtful, smart – and a mix of all the best things in this world.  And now you are also a full fledged HERO.  For real, you are awesome and I am lucky and proud to be your mama!five year old heroWe have friends who lost their son to a pool drowning several years back.  What a terrible, unspeakable loss. Despite being shaken for several days following the incident, I am unbelievably thankful that our little girl’s life was spared.  It is sobering how quick this type of thing takes place.

If you are trying to find your way back to Our Epic Road Trip post click the link to hop on back!

Emily Oak Home Sweet Road


City Guide Featured Our Travels Reviews

The Ridge Tahoe Review

Just when you pass a ski lift and think you can’t possibly drive any higher the road curves and The Ridge Tahoe sign comes into view.  And what do you know, the steep incline continues UP!   I am not a skilled writer so I can not impress upon those who have not been to The Ridge Tahoe the unsettling feeling you get driving through narrow passages between rock faces.  It appears to be landscape that engineers defied God and gravity to build upon.

the ridge tahoe at lake tahoe
In no way am I afraid of heights but I gotta tell you this drive did something to me.  Each time we left the resort for some fun and came back – it happened again.  It was like heart palpitations without the actual palpitations.  I know, it’s a little melodramatic right?

The steep drive pays off because once you get to The Ridge Tahoe you are treated with sweeping views of the valley below.  It’s stunning.

the ridge tahoeWhile the resort itself is a bit aged they do a good job of keeping it clean and comfortable.  There is a ton of stuff to do while you are there as well.

You never have to leave the resort to create fun memories with your family.  If you plan on visiting outside of ski season, like we did, a few things to do on site are putt putt golf, tennis, private hiking trails, swimming, and rock climbing lessons.  They also have a couple of playgrounds for younger kids, a game room and theater which plays free movies twice a day.

the ridge tahoe swimmingthe ridge tahoe pool
The living space was large and open so the five of us never felt cramped in our one bedroom unit.  Although it’s clear that the last major kitchen and bathroom renovation was done in the late 80’s or early 90’s the new carpet, hardware, fixtures, fireplace facelift and tasteful decor distracted us away from the age of the place and made it feel warm and inviting.

the ridge tahoethe ridge tahoe kitchen
the ridge tahoe bedrooms
Did I mention the Jacuzzi soaker tub?  I’ve got one word for it.  Mammoth.  It felt like they actually designed the place around the tub.  The Ridge Tahoe is located within the ski resort Heavenly and as far as I’m concerned if for no other reason than this one feature it is aptly named!

the ridge tahoe bath
One obvious thing the condos are missing is air conditioning.  It was fall and we had to sleep with the slider in our room and windows open- and it was still too hot.

What we liked about The Ridge Tahoe:

  • Views
  • Activities galore
  • Kids Club
  • Shuttles to town
  • Ski-in Ski-out during ski season
  • Jacuzzi tub!

What we didn’t like about The Ridge Tahoe:

  • No air conditioning – please do not underestimate the importance of this one thing
  • Farther from the lake and town then we’d like


We would go to The Ridge Tahoe again for sure during ski season or cooler months, but NEVER during the summer due to the absence of AC.  I loved all the activities but would plan better to take full advantage of them next time.  Also, if we were planning on spending most of our time near the lake I would find other accommodations.  It’s a bit of a drive.  All in all we had a wonderful time there.

Tips for your visit to The Ridge Tahoe:

  • Drink lots of water.  The high elevation will make you feel dizzy and sick quickly if you are not properly hydrated.
  • Make sure to plan ahead to make sure to take advantage of the onsite activities.

Emily Eck Home Sweet Road

Featured Reviews Style

Quality, Comfortable Cool Shoes

cool shoesAs you know from my style posts here on the blog, quality trumps a low price tag every time. And you know how much I love a good deal! I am so glad that we found out about Merrell Trail shoes last year. While 4 out of the 5 of us own our own pair, the boys in particular have benefited from these super comfortable cool shoes.

I’ll be honest with you, I didn’t want to spring the $65 that these bad boys cost, but I can tell you over a year later, that it was some of the best money I have EVER spent on footwear. What initially won me over were the great reviews on and amazon.

I’m a big believer in sharing only resources with you guys that I know will benefit you and I can stand behind.  After a year of abuse from these rough and tumble sons of mine, I thought it would be a good time to tell you about my VERY FAVORITE brand and style of cool comfortable shoes for the kids.

I kid you not, E and Biggie have worn them at least 300 out of the last 365 days of the past year!  The only reason for the days they haven’t been on their sweet feet is because it was either too cold, or they were muddy and I was in the process of washing them!comfortable cool shoesAfter I saw how rad they were for the boys I bought a pair for David and me too!  The only reason Girlr didn’t get a pair is because her feet were too small:)

I wear mine barefoot or with thin ankle socks.  They are low profile and don’t stick out like a sore thumb like a lot of running / excersise shoes I see.  They fit like a glove, which is the point apparently — hence the name Merrell Trail Glove!

Somehow Merrell has figured out a way to give them enough shock absorption so that your knees don’t get rocked on concrete and enough protection on the sole for rough trails.  I even wear mine to the gym when I go — which is not enough!

cool shoes Of coarse my favorite thing to do with them is to wear them on an adventure date with my man!

We bought the boy’s shoes at REI and our adult version at Amazon.

*Please note that the links in this post are affiliate links.  This simply means sometimes I recommend a product and if you choose to purchase that product via my recommendation, I will get a small referral commission. Of course, this is at no extra cost to you but it does help keep my candle burning so I can keep bringing you great tips! I truly appreciate your support in this way. Thank you.

Emily Oak Home Sweet Road

City Guide Featured Our Travels seattle

Seattle Shopping & People Watching

shopping in seattleSeattle has a vibrant shopping district servicing any demand you may have.  Within just a few blocks you can shop at high end stores like Coach and Michael Kors or fill up your bags without emptying your wallet at Ross or Nordstrom Rack — my personal favorite.

And don’t worry about running on empty from all that shopping because there are plenty of restaurants and caffeine fill up stations (aka Starbucks) to go around!

If window shopping and people watching are your thing, you’re in luck because Seattle’s Shopping District is the place where everything collides.  Oh how I love the diversity represented in Downtown Seattle!  Window shopping and people watching are my happy place so when I’m in Seattle I usually make a run to Nordstrom Rack and Anthropologie to see if something catches my eye, otherwise it’s just enjoying the feel of the city and keeping an eye on my tribe — can I get a witness?!

Shopping in Seattle – Westlake

seattle shopping westlakewestlake center seattleblue trees seattleShop Pacific Place for High End Stores

pacific place seattleSatisfy your Eclectic Side at Anthropologie in Seattle

anthropology seattleshopping anthropology

There is something for everyone when it comes to shopping in downtown Seattle.  I have a little bit of a bohemian style so I enjoy stores like Anthropologie and Free People.  Both are right there in Seattle, but unfortunately Free People is outside of the main shopping district.

Hike to Pike Place

And if you are up for a bit of a walk, you are within walking distance to the ahhmazing Pike Place Market.  It’s the perfect distance on a nice day and chances are you’ll see some interesting things along the way — just a hunch:)  We like to throw a couple of Blessing Bags in my purse or backpack if we are spending the day in the city.

pike place market in seattle

To make your way back to our Epic Road Trip Tour, click HERE.  And if you haven’t yet, make sure to connect with me on FB or where ever you’re hanging out.  I’d love to get to know you!  Buttons to do so are below!

Emily Oak Home Sweet Road

family fun Featured Printables

Airport Scavenger Hunt

airport scavenger huntAirports are full of excitement, anticipation, anxiety, and if you aren’t careful, mammoth meltdowns from the little ones.  While long lines and empty tummies are often to blame, good old fashion boredom has a lot to do with it as well.  If you are on a layover or your flight gets delayed, chances are you have some time to kill.  Sitting in uncomfortable seats or people watching is not exactly most children’s idea of a good time … enter the Airport Scavenger Hunt!

Print it out and hide it in your purse so you can whip this fun little Airport Scavenger Hunt out right when you need it and send your antsy kiddo on a mission! Perhaps you can entice them with a hot cocoa or sweet treat once they complete the hunt for a little added engagement!

airport scavenger hunt
CLICK TO PRINT *Since every resource I provide on the blog is FREE, the only thing I ask of you is to please share it with your friends on FB, Twitter or Pinterest (the buttons to do so are below my signature) – Thanks in advance!

I hope this little treasure hunt proves a useful, fun resource for you next time you are stuck at the airport with some time to kill.

If you like this treasure hunt, and you’re doing any driving or sight seeing, you may also want to grab the Road Trip Scavenger Hunt.  Also, make sure to check out the entire Scavenger Hunt Ideas Series here on the blog.

If you’re a little nervous about traveling by plane with your little ones, I wrote a post with all kinds of tips to make your flight as smooth as possible!

As always, please let me know if there is any resource you need that you are unable to find on the site.  My goal is to make creating lifelong memories and adventuring together as a family as easy as possible so don’t hesitate to let me know if there is anything I can do to help you in that way!
Emily Oak Home Sweet Road

Featured Travel Tips

Tips for Traveling with Children – We’ve Got Your Back!

traveling with childrenI am honored to connect with a community of other people & parents who have adventure in their bones.  Those of you who purpose to find your way around all the road blocks in your way and keep your eyes on where you want to go.

Don’t give up.  Traveling with your children is worth the effort, and I’m here to help you!

What’s the Point?  I’m Tired Just Thinking about it!

Before we dive into some of the ways to ease the pressure and stress of traveling with children, I want to get this party started off right by giving you some vision for what you can look forward to as you engage the world with your kids through travel.

I won’t sugar coat the obvious — traveling with kids can be hard —  which is why I wanted to write about why you should do it anyway!

I hope it serves as a little inspiration! 🙂

Traveling with Kids — Why You Should Fight for It

Nuts & Bolts Travel Tips

Traveling with a Baby – Top 10 Tips from a Traveling Veteran Mom

Air Travel with Kids — 10 Tips for a Stress-Free Flight

Road Trip Games & Ways to Keep the Kids Entertained on a Long Drive

To Avoid Pulling your Hair out while you Pack

Traveling Light: 16 Practical Tips to Lighten the Load

If you are a mother you are likely to be missing out on sleep anyway — regardless of whether you are traveling or not!   Don’t miss my favorite trick to feeling beautiful while you travel that doesn’t require you to pack your entire closet.  We have little ones underfoot, we don’t have enough space or extra hands for all that!   *Extra Zzzz not included

The One Rule Every Mom Should Break when Packing for Vacation

Not Convinced?

If you still aren’t quite ready to jump right in to hitting the road or catching a plane, think about easing into it with a Staycation!

Reap the Benefits of Vacation without Ever Leaving Home {Staycation Part 1}

Reap the Benefits of Vacation without Ever Leaving Home {Staycation Part 2}

You Got This!

Remember — YOU ARE BRAVE.  Really.  And, I love brave people — that is one of the reasons I made this resolution!


I hope these tips give you the inspiration you were needing to get out there and explore with your family.  I know how overwhelming it can be.  We are in this together, so please let me know if there is anything you need.

As I mentioned in the About Me section, it really is my goal to provide resources for that will help you connect with your family – and the world – as much as possible, so please don’t hesitate to reach out to me if there is anything that I can do to help!  And don’t forget to connect with me on whatever social media channels you are into — the buttons to do so are below!

Emily Oak Home Sweet Road



family fun Featured Printables

Scavenger Hunt Series Roundup

scavenger hunt ideasScavenger Hunts are one of those activities that many of us have fun memories associated with.  Most of my scavenger hunting memories are in the context of educational or youth group outings, but I wanted to create this Scavenger Hunt Ideas Series so my kids — and yours — could join in the fun too!

Treasure Hunts I’ve Published so Far:

  • ROAD TRIP Scavenger Hunt – This is a great one to print out and add to your arsenal of fun things for your kids to do in the car next time you take a road trip or even just a long drive.
  • AIRPORT Scavenger Hunt – A fun resource for you next time you are stuck at the airport and the kids are getting antsy.
  • NATURE Scavenger Hunt – I think this particular treasure hunt would be fun to do without the kids too – on an adventure date perhaps?!
  • CHRISTMAS Scavenger Hunt – I tried to include all the things that will bring a smile to your face when you think of Christmas!
  • VALENTINES Scavenger Hunt – Instead of searching for specific items, this treasure hunt allows your kids to use a little more creativity!
  • EASTER / Resurrection Scavenger Hunt – This is a great tool to teach your kids about the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Upcoming Scavenger Hunts:

  • BEACH Scavenger Hunt
  • CAMPING Scavenger Hunt
  • CITY Scavenger Hunt
  • ZOO Scavenger Hunt

I hope to have most of the upcoming scavenger hunts published by summer break so that you can print them out and have them on hand when you are looking for something fun to do.  I think it would be fun to do with a group of friends and their children as well.  Hopefully your family enjoys this {somewhat} silly tradition as much as mine does!

Is there a scavenger hunt idea that you would like me to feature here on the blog?  Make sure to let me know!

Emily Oak Home Sweet Road

Featured Our Travels seattle

Would You Let Your Kids Play with Elephant Poop?

Woodland Park Zoo

Is it just me or is playing with elephant poop just about the strangest activity the Woodland Park Zoo, or any zoo for that matter, could possibly offer?  When you go for a nice afternoon at the zoo there is no opportunity to ride on the humps of camels, play patty cake with lionesses, swing from the branches with primates, run with gazelles, or swim with the sharks, but don’t worry folks because they have something much much better in store for your children.

They have the excrement of elephants!

And because here in Seattle, we don’t want to let anything go to waste — not even waste itself —  what better thing to do than throw together a feces craft for kids?  As gross as that might sound, I gotta say, I’m tracking with the good folks at Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo on this one!

I mean, it’s not every day that you can get the waste of a 4000 pound animal all over your hands and come out feeling good about it.

I can come up with a couple of names for this activity.  I’m thinking crappy craft, feces fun — you get the idea.  At the Woodland Park Zoo, however, they call it Elephant Poo Paper Making.

Woodland Park Zoo Elephant Poo Paper Making Craft

elephant poo paper woodland park zoowoodland park zoo seattleLook at this feisty little girl!!!  I love it when people don’t mind getting down and dirty — Proud moment for this mama!

Although they have “sterilized” the poo, the idea of playing with elephant dung isn’t the most pleasant thought for most people.  Thankfully none of our kids have weak stomachs so this was a fun afternoon activity to do after we visited other parts of the zoo.

The African Village at the Woodland Park Zoo

woodland park zoo

woodland park zoo africa

woodland park zoo
I can’t wait until we can take our kids to the real Africa.  That will be such a treat!  In the meantime we will have to enjoy a little more time at the African Village at the Woodland Park Zoo and get our hands dirty making beautiful, rough edged paper.  I didn’t get a picture of the final product.  It turned out lovely:)

What do you think? Would you let your kids play with elephant poo?

Emily Oak Home Sweet Road