Education Our Travels

How to be on a Reality Show

how to be on a reality showEvery wondered how you could be on a reality show?  Well, recently we were contacted by a casting producer to be on Bravos! upcoming TV Reality Show about parenting.  I was flattered.

Below is part of the correspondence we received:

I’m working with an award-winning production company and a top-rated national cable network to cast a new documentary series that will explore unique perspectives on parenting. I enjoy your blog and I think you might be a good fit for the show. This would be a great opportunity for you to share your insight and expertise with a much larger audience. 

We couldn’t figure out why a prominent production company would be interested in featuring our family on the show because nothing in the letter stated why they thought we would be a good fit.  We aren’t particularly talented or witty — pretty average actually, so why us?

After some sneaky research online I discovered that the new show we were being considered for was working under the title of EXTREME PARENTING!!!  Whaaaaa?

Turns out Road Schooling is considered extreme!  Who knew?  Long story short we will NOT be featured on the show since we are not currently Road Schooling full time.  My only hope is that the family that IS featured does the movement proud!

Reality shows are notorious for editing relatively “normal” people into being days away from needing to be institutionalized.  I guess we dodged a bullet on that one!

The moral of the story is that if you want to be contacted by a large network to be part of their upcoming reality series, do something out of the box that few people have heard of.  Blog about it.  And then act like everyone else is WRONG or IGNORANT!

I didn’t do that part because I DON’T believe homeschooling on the road is for everyone, plus I was still in shock that they pegged us as extremists!  I could tell though, that they were fishing for someone who was willing to throw down over whatever they were passionate about!  It makes good television after all:)

I’m curious to hear what you think.  Do you think Road Schooling is extreme?

Emily Eck

Our Travels Reviews Travel With Kids

Mount Rainier National Park – Paradise, Washington

Mt. Rainier National Park EntranceMount Rainier National Park – Drive to Paradise
What does a mother do who is traveling with kids when her patience is running thin and her husband is out-of-town?  She packs up the kids, grabs her mother and drives to Paradise at Mount Rainier National Park!

Mount Rainier National Park is shockingly beautiful!  The drive to Paradise from the Seattle area is absolutely stunning.  I could feel the tension leaving my body the longer we were driving along the winding road toward the Mountain.

Although I was raised in the Seattle area and had visited Mount Rainier two or three times in my life I was once again in awe of its majesty.  It is something to behold far off but up close its beauty and strength is so much more pronounced.   We drove there via Enumclaw, WA.  Along this route to the park you will find the White River, periodic canopies of trees over the roadway, and charming cabins that tempt you to stay.  Be careful to watch for signs.

Both mom and I were so engrossed in the scenery we missed the turn altogether!  We didn’t realize until MUCH later when we were headed down the other side of the mountain.  Whoops!  The entrance fee to get into Paradise is $15 per vehicle.  The pass/receipt is good for 7 days so you can really stay and explore as long as your schedule allows.

From the Seattle area it is faster to visit Mount Rainier National Park via Sunrise so I had actually never been to Paradise.  Have I missed out!  There is so much to see on the way up.

Once you arrive at the top the new Henry M. Jackson Memorial Visitor Center at Paradise welcomes you.  If you don’t pack a lunch you can buy a snack or full meal at the café.  The gift shop has some great gear and souvenirs you can pick up.  My mom bought some lovely hammered earrings to remember the day.  Isn’t jewelry such a great thing to buy for a souvenir?  One way to make sure you enjoy what you bought instead of it finding its way to the trash can soon after you leave.

Mom has arthritis so it wasn’t going to work to take a long hike but we did enjoy a 20 minute walk up.  She took Girlr down to enjoy ice cream on the terrace so the boys and I could spend more time hiking.

After visiting I have to say I would LOVE to stay a night or two at the lodge.  You can pay a little less to share a bathroom with other visitors or splurge for your own!  I’m not sure I’m quite ready yet to share a toilet with strangers.  Since our kids aren’t old enough to enjoy two full days of hiking I see it better suited for a romantic getaway.   Perhaps David and I will add that to the bucket list!

Travel with Kids travel tips when heading to Mount Rainier National Park – Paradise

  • Be ready to dress warm by bringing a jacket or sweatshirt or layer your clothing so you are comfortable no matter what the weather.
  • Check for road closures/conditions at Mount Rainier National Park Road Status Web Page
  • Leave early in the morning so you have lots of time to explore.
  • Pack a lunch so you can enjoy a picnic.
  • Wear comfortable shoes, sunscreen and sunglasses.
  • Drink lots of water to stay hydrated.  At this elevation you will need it! You and your kiddos can easily get nauseated and feel sick if you don’t drink enough water at high elevations.
  • Binoculars are fun to have.

Pros:  Mount Rainier National Park – Paradise

  • Stunning scenery, pictures just don’t do it justice.  It is breathtaking.
  • Makes for a great day trip.
  • Relaxing drive and walk around Paradise.
  • There are plenty of places to get out and explore along the way.
  • The standard park pass lasts 7 days from when you buy it so you can go back for more!
  • Great hiking trails.
  • Family friendly.
  • Great way to connect with your loved ones and nature!
  • Hot food, lodging, and nice gift shop at Paradise.

Cons: Mount Rainier National Park – Paradise

  • There could be stop and go traffic depending on road work.
  • Must be super vigilant if you travel with kids because at certain parts of the hike there may a steep drop just off the trail.

If you can’t decide between visiting Paradise or Sunrise on your trip to Mount Rainier National Park, make sure to check out the post I published about our family hike at Sunrise.

Hope you feel inspired.  I can’t wait to go back!

Emily Oak Home Sweet Road


City Guide Featured Our Travels

Take Your Family On A Cheap Seattle Dinner Cruise For $31!

A cheap Seattle “dinner cruise” for a family of 5 for only $31!!!  If you are in the Seattle area or planning a vacation there you should seriously consider doing this!  We had the best time.  The food was fantastic, the views amazing, and the kids loved it.

Traveling with kids can be expensive, that’s why I am on a mission to find creative ways to give my kids the time of their lives without breaking the bank.  My hope for this website is to pass some of those ideas on so you can too!

Here is what to do!

  • #1  Head to the waterfront and park near Ye Olde Curiosity Shop.
  • #2  Go to The Alaskan Sourdough Bread Company and buy a big loaf of bread.  Be sure to have them slice it for you.
  • #3  Go to the world-famous Ivar’s Fish Bar and get some yummy clam chowder to go.  We got the largest size they sell, the tanker, which with the sourdough bread was plenty for our family to share.   If you haven’t had Ivar’s chowder be sure to try it.  You will not be disappointed!
  • #4  Next, walk towards the ferry and buy tickets for the Bremerton ferry.  You only have to pay for one direction even though you will be taking the ferry round trip.
  • #5  Hop on board the ferry to Bremerton and enjoy your family dinner cruise!

Pros:  Cheap Seattle Dinner Cruise

  • This is the kind of boat ride where you don’t have to worry about your kids’ behavior too much.  You can let them run wild outside to get their energy out!  We raced and played tag
  • You will enjoy some of the best views of the Puget Sound.
  • Inexpensive – Especially for a boat ride!

Cons:  Cheap Seattle Dinner Cruise

  • Can be pretty cold outside the ferry.
  • This is a commuter ferry so it can be very busy.
  • Parking on the waterfront can be difficult to find and expensive.
  • Seattle traffic is a nightmare; give yourself plenty of time to get downtown.  Here’s a link to the parking prices.  In most places if you park after 6PM you won’t have to pay to park.

Travel With Kids Travel Tips:  Cheap Seattle Dinner Cruise

  • Make sure to save a slice or two of bread to feed the seagulls with.  They will come swarming.
  • Make sure to go through the right turn style so you get on the right boat.  We almost went to Bainbridge Island!
  • Layer your clothes so when night falls or rain comes you can still enjoy the ride.

Our Travels

Dramatic Turn

We didn’t fall off the face of the earth.  Though you wouldn’t know it from the blog, we are alive! I must have 40 blogs nearly finished and ready to post with photos which couldn’t possibly capture the beauty we experienced from months on the road. I can’t wait to share them with you. It was some of the best times of our lives. There were dreams fulfilled and lots of happy, thankful tears.

And while we had the most amazing time we also had some of the most challenging! Have you ever been in crisis when all you could do was what was right in front of you? When anything peripheral was just gonna have to wait. I have had to put connecting with dear friends and adding to this blog on the back burner for the short-term so we could address the most pressing needs in our life. I have to step back and remember that seasons come and go. We won’t be in crisis forever.

Without going into great detail I will tell you that my son has some health issues which escalated out of our control while on the road.  He needed stability – monotony even.  He has a diagnosis, but he is a child and I want to protect him.  I want him to be known for his heart, not his hardship.  Unless you have spent time with him and know the treasure of this child and his history of excruciating pain, multiple surgeries, specialists, meds, counseling, etc. a quick post would rob you of the full picture. Maybe someday I’ll share. When I’m not so raw.

That said, our life has taken a dramatic turn.  We had to make tough decisions in a relatively short period based on what was best for our family.  Our children.  Originally the doors were wide open for us in Colorado and the plan was to settle in north Denver/Boulder after a month of skiing in the Rockies (during which time I may or may not have broken my nose;)) and build our business there.

It became clear very quickly that what we needed was to be near family.  Our kids needed their grandparents.  Starting over in an entirely new place seemed ridiculous considering what we were facing. So, we are back where we never thought we would be – in Seattle.  As I have said in previous blogs I appreciate the Pacific Northwest more now then I ever have.  Grey skies and endless rain get to me but when the sun breaks through the clouds – WOW!

It’s not what we planned.  It’s not where we hoped to be.  But, for the time being it’s right.  So thank you for your patience.  For those of you who have tracked with us, I’m sorry to have kept you hanging.  I hope the posts to come next will be worth the wait and when I add something you can smile for me and know that I am slowly getting back on my feet!

Here’s an UPDATE🙂

Emily Eck Home Sweet Road

“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.” ~ Alan Watts

Our Travels Reviews Travel With Kids

Review of Mount St Helens Washington

Review of Mount St Helens, Washington

We were all excited to make the trip and also write a review of Mount St Helens for those who travel with kids.  Since we both grew up in the Pacific Northwest The Man and I were looking forward to taking the kids to see the “mountain that blew up”.  The day started with stellar roadschooling by watching old videos of Mount St Helens from filmmaker Michael Lienau whom we met a few years back in Kansas City of all places.  When St. Helens exploded Michael and two other men were dropped in via helicopter to document the historic event.  He quickly landed in a life threatening situation.  Thankfully he survived and was able to get the rare up close footage of Mount St Helens we are privileged to watch decades later.

Despite missing the correct exit on the way to Mount St Helens, which extended our trip a bit, the drive was beautiful.  We stopped at a few educational centers on the way to Johnston Ridge Observatory, the most popular point of interest.  Unfortunately, at no point did we meet a single friendly park ranger.  We were VERY disappointed with this park.  If you want to visit a place that is kid friendly you may want to avoid the Mount St Helens visitor centers.  Biggie and E set to climbing a mound next to the Johnston Ridge Observatory when an authoritative ranger promptly ran over and gave us the what for.  Something about being fined 100 bucks for each stick they touch.  The only highlight was the oral history of the mountain given by an enthusiastic ranger to a large group of visitors.

Having just visited Mount Rainier National Park a few days before and being absolutely raptured by its beauty I was taken aback by how different the two mountains are.  Mount St Helens has an eerie, ominous feeling to it.  I suppose it is what one would expect from a volcano but not having given it much thought I was unprepared for it.  Just as St Helens displays the unforgiving groanings of nature with a massive crater, I couldn’t help but feel a similar emptiness.  Looking upon the destruction that hollowed out mountain and the barren landscape beneath left me longing for LIFE.

Travel with kids travel tips:  Mount St Helens, Washington
  • Be ready to dress warm by bringing a jacket or sweatshirt.
  • Many of the attractions were closed when we went.  The best time to visit is between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
  • When you reach Johnston Ridge be sure to keep your kids on the trail.  The park rangers don’t have much patience those how disturb the landscape.
Pros:  Mount St Helens, Washington
  • An active piece of history
  • Has its own beauty which is unusual to experience first hand
  • Very educational and great for roadschooling
  • The gift shop has beautiful things made from volcanic ash from St. Helens.  How cool is that?!
Cons:  Mount St Helens, Washington
  • Not very kid friendly
  • Many of the visitor/educational centers along the way cost extra money
  • Ominous, eerie and unsettling feeling to it


City Guide Our Travels Travel With Kids

Things To Do In Bozeman MT with Kids

A Few Fun Things to do in Bozeman MT with kids

Kirk Park

There’s lots of fun things to do in Bozeman with kids.  After enjoying frozen yogurt at U-Swirl in Bozeman we crossed the street to Kirk Park so we could let the kids run that sugar right out of them.  What a great park.  Between the show put on by a young skater girl (we were super impressed) and the impromptu medieval sword fight by what appeared to be local thespians we had a great time!

Just off the heals of the summer olympics the volleyball courts were at capacity with people getting their game on.  I’m pretty average at every sport so these days when I play I like to pretend (without the knowledge of anyone else of course) to be a famous athlete.  Its fun, you should try it.  things to do in Bozemankirk park bozeman Whether you are passing through and need to stretch your legs or you live in Bozeman its a great park to check out.  It’s perfect for kids because it’s so large you can let them run free without worrying about them running out in the street.  We could have stayed the entire day.

The Gallatin Speedway

It can be so fun to travel with kids because you just don’t know what the day will hold.  A really fun thing to do with kids in Bozeman on a warm summer Friday evening is to head to the Gallatin Speedway to watch the races.

David took the boys to the dirt track and had a phenomenal time.  The place was packed with adults and kids of all ages.  With the beautiful Bridger Range in the distance and the smell of high-octane fuel in the air the Boy Scouts performed The Color Guard (basic flag opening ceremony).

gallatin speedwaythings to do in bozeman montanaDuring each heat the cars roared by tossing dirt into the air as they drove sideways down the tight oval track.  In between heats people flocked to the concession stand to buy cheese fries covered with chili, nachos, soda and every other kind of junk food you can imagine.  Finally, after the races, you can go down to the pits to see the cars, talk to the drivers and marvel in all the goodness that a summertime friday night at the races in a small town has to offer.

TIP – Bring some earplugs with you!

The Springhill Barn Dance

One of the reasons we love to travel is the opportunity we get to visit family.  My niece, AKA Shroomy, almost convinced me to wear Daisy Dukes for this event.  I mean, what is more fitting than jean shorts and cowboy boots for a Barn Dance?  In the end my good sense won out and I decided that she is 17 and I am NOT!!!

We just happened to be passing through Bozeman the weekend that Springhill Presbyterian was holding their annual community outreach barn dance.  What a treat.   The food was surprisingly good for a church event (no casseroles here folks) and the activities were perfect.  Hay rides, pony rides, huge blow up slides, face painting by an adorable 10-year-old, animal petting “zoo”, homemade pie station, live music.  You name it they had it.

Smiles all around!

things to do in bozemen with kids

things to do in bozeman montana with kids

things to do in bozeman montana

There are many more fun things to do in Bozeman.  We look forward to exploring it more on our next visit!

Emily Oak Home Sweet Road

Our Travels Travel With Kids Uncategorized

The Adventure Begins – Our First Stop

I love road trips

On Our Way to Bozeman, MT

We had originally arranged to drop our belongings off in Denver at the storage unit we rented and stay the night at our friends’ home to get a good night sleep after the grueling move.  You never know what’s going to happen when you travel with kids.

Those plans changed after Girlr threw up all over me.   Twice.

I was afraid she may have come down with the flu and didn’t want her getting our friends’ kids sick so we decided to forego sleep and hit the road.  Turns out it was food poisoning from McDonald’s.  No kidding!

Traveling with kids can be challenging but driving through the night works well for us since our kids can fall asleep and wake up many hours down the road.  It cuts down on the whining that is bound to happen on a long drive.

kids sleeping in the car

Neck Pillow Anyone?!!!

As mountain starved as we’ve been we reveled at the sight of Bozeman’s Bridger and Gallatin mountain ranges as we arrived in the early morning.  They aren’t particularly majestic but they are beautiful and we welcomed the sight of them.

There is beauty everywhere if you look for it.  Homesteads and farms scatter the landscape along I-90 east of town.   Pine trees and firs populate the ground while streams and ponds wait to refresh the animals nearby.   Secluded mountain top homes make me crave solace and quiet.  The kind of quiet we will have to wait a couple decades for most likely.

In the meantime, I guess we’ll keep the kids and settle for the occasional use of earplugs! 

Driveway Camping in the Trailer

In the past we have not been big into camping as a family.  Not that we haven’t wanted to, it just hasn’t EVER happened.  So when the opportunity to stay in The Man’s sisters’ camper presented itself we jumped at the opportunity.

We just couldn’t resist that sweet smile E gave us in petition.  The same one he flashes when he really wants something.  It wasn’t hard to say yes.  Let’s be honest, a huge temperature controlled trailer in the driveway is not exactly “roughing it” but it is a good way for our clan to ease into it nonetheless.

So yes, we camped in Montana and we liked it!

driveway camping

Not a bad start to our crazy adventure.  We don’t know where this road will take us, but we are excited for what’s ahead!

Emily Oak Home Sweet Road

Our Travels

Packin’ it up!

When you move you will find out how many wonderful people you have in your life.  We were so grateful for all our friends who showed us love and supported us in so many ways in the weeks leading up to our big move.  The Man and I felt all gushy inside by the turnout.

We will miss them.  A LOT!

If you are feeling lonely you could always sell your house and plan an open-ended road trip.  Maybe you’ll feel better.  Who knows?

*quick note: If you ever need some advice on moving trucks (super random, I know) check out my Penske post.  I’m not sure why, but when I first started the blog I wrote a review on the process we went through to find the best truck and how we negotiated a sizable discount. Thought I would link to it if any of you ever needed it!

Emily Oak Home Sweet Road

City Guide Our Travels Reviews Travel With Kids

Things To Do In Branson MO With Kids

Branson City Guide

things to do in branson with kids

I wouldn’t recommend taking a trip to travel with kids two weeks before moving but recommendations are overrated, except for ours of course!  Branson, MO is one of those coveted places for those of us who live, …err, used to live in the Midwest and there is a ton of great things to do in Branson MO with kids. It is one of the few recognizable vacation spots smack dab in the middle of the country and I love it!  Branson is a great family vacation idea and a good place to travel with kids as there’s a lot of neat things to do in Branson.

Silver Dollar City

Powder keg silver dollar city with kids

things to do in branson mo with kids

Silver Dollar City is our very favorite thing to do in Branson MO with kids.  It is such a unique theme park which makes you feel like you just stepped back in the 1800’s.  The staff dress in old fashion garb, bluegrass music tickles your ears and the flavors of summer make your mouth water throughout the day.  Shrieks and squeals from the park’s rides add to the excitement.  One thing that makes it such a special place for thrill seekers like us is that they let you take your little ones in line with you and hand them to the other parent/caregiver without having to wait through the line separately.

silver dollar city water rides

silver dollar city with kids

Places to Stay in Branson, MO

We have visited Branson countless times over the past few years and a few resorts are worth mentioning.

Dewey Short Visitors Center on Table Rock Lake

The new Dewey Short Visitors Center on Table Rock Lake is a must thing to do in Branson MO with kids, especially if you are into roadschooling.  The top deck will make you want to go on a romantic date with your love and follow it up with a slow dance.  So serene and beautiful.  Girlr was sleeping in Ol’ Faithful so The Man and I took turns with the boys.

I literally stood outside and breathed in the beauty from that top balcony.  Inside is a rustic, modern masterpiece.  Absolute eye candy for a wanna be designer like me!   Perfect for roadschooling with all the educational exhibits and hands on learning tools.

Branson Belle Dinner Show Boat

On the other side of the parking lot is the beginning of a bike and walking trail. Along the lake you will pass by the Branson Belle, a dinner show boat.  Even if you decide not to take the popular dinner cruise the gift shop and docks are worth checking out if you have the time.

Branson Landing

Branson Landing is an outdoor waterfront mall is a great thing to do in Branson MO with kids and we never miss it when we’re in town.  The water, fire and light show is a new attraction.  It is a short presentation synchronized to music.  It was a bit of a letdown if I’m honest.  Then again, it was free and was a good excuse to get off my feet, sit on the grass, and let the kids run around.  The boys liked the flames.

White River Fish House

Bass Pro Shops’ White River Fish House Restaurant was excellent.  Fish is a hard thing to get right.  There are few things worse than poorly cooked fish.  They did it very well and the atmosphere was well thought out.  We fed the fish on the back dock after lunch, it kept us entertained for a good 15 minutes.  Nice!

Branson is certainly a great place for a family vacation.  We really just scratched the surface of all there is to do there.  The kids still beg us to go back!  Silver Dollar City is the favorite of coarse!  I hope you feel encouraged to go there yourself!

Emily Oak Home Sweet Road

Our Travels

How A Krispy Kreme Donut Changed Our Lives – Why We Started Home Sweet Road

Family of 5 sells [Almost] Everything and Hits the Road
The Man hit 40 this year.  He has always been a responsible guy who values taking good care of our family and working hard.  Sometimes too hard.  Yes, that’s possible.  Finding ourselves as new entrepreneurs with a tech business working 70 hours per week we knew something had to give.

There is something about turning 40 that causes you to look at your life and evaluate whether you are where you want to be.  Having lived in Kansas City, MO for the past five years we were craving more outdoor adventures and knew our boys needed to connect with nature in a greater way.  We were hungry for the mountains.

We would need to sell our house and it wouldn’t be easy but moving WAS doable.  After visiting some friends in Colorado our mind was made.  We were mountain bound!  Our home sold just two days after listing it and the ball began to roll.

A Craving for Krispy Kreme
Usually when you plan a move you have something lined up on the other side.  What kind of flaky people don’t have a place to land with a mere 10 days to go time?

krispy kreme

It all started with a craving.  I woke up after a long Saturday of packing, rolled over, looked at The Man and told him I needed a Krispy Kreme donut!  Taken aback by my uncharacteristic craving, he jumped at the opportunity and ran with it.  He quickly hopped out of bed, woke up the kids, and we all piled into Ol’ Faithful.

It might have been the sugar or just our desire for adventure but somewhere between downing a couple donuts and driving home we had formulated a plan.  We would stop looking for a house and plan a road trip.  A long one.  One that had no end date.

At the core I am a free spirit and David is up for taking risks under the right circumstances.   We are also very intentional about how we live our lives and raise our children.  Only time will tell if a decision made during a sugar high will make us crash and burn or take us to new heights!

Stay tuned….

Emily Eck Home Sweet Road

Our Travels

Yummy Elephant Ears Recipe

Elephant Ears Recipe

One of my favorite parts of traveling is the food.  You get to experience the unique flavors of not only the culture but the food as well.  If you are expecting a post on fried cactus in Arizona or fish tacos in San Diego you’d be wrong.  I am devoting this entire post to the fried, sugary, delicious goodness known as the Elephant Ear.

A few years ago while visiting the Missouri State Fair I was surprised by the fact that not only did they not serve Elephant Ears, I couldn’t find a single person who knew what they were!  For me no fair is complete without devouring at least one Elephant Ear.  Scones are good, Funnel Cake is even better but they do not compare to the amazingness of the Elephant Ear.  If you have never had one I have included a recipe below so you can taste for yourself.  You can make it with whole wheat flour instead of white if that helps you feel better!

Elephant Ear Recipe:

  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 3/8 cup shortening
  • 2 tablespoons active dry yeast
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 quart oil for frying
  • 3 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 6 tablespoons white sugar

Directions for making Elephant Ears:

  1. In small saucepan over medium heat, combine milk, salt, 2 tablespoons sugar and shortening. Heat until shortening melts and sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and let cool to lukewarm, 110 degrees F (43 degrees C). Sprinkle in yeast and let sit until foamy.
  2. Transfer mixture to large bowl, and stir in flour to make a dough. Knead until smooth, cover and let rise 30 minutes.
  3. In a large heavy skillet or deep fryer, heat 1 inch of oil to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  4. Roll out 1 to 2 inch balls of dough into thin sheets. Fry sheets 1 to 2 minutes on a side, until puffed and golden. Drain on paper towels.
  5. Combine cinnamon and 6 tablespoons sugar, sprinkle over the warm pastries and serve. You can also try topping it with butter and your favorite jam.
  6. Enjoy!