Wordless Wednesday: Heart

“Making the decision to have a child – it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. ” ~ Elizabeth Stone

Having them all home where I can hear them laugh, watch them sleep, snap a picture when they don’t know I’m lurking around with my camera, this is when my heart skips a beat. 

My MermaidBrotherly LoveCome on momPinataMy Marine is home

Tips for Viewing the Pony Pinning (Pony Swim) from Assateague Island to Chincoteague

photo credit: Bonnie U. Gruenberg
photo credit: Bonnie U. Gruenberg

At around ten years old I got the best Christmas gift any kid could ever ask for – my first horse. Well, technically she was just a hair too short to be called a horse. I loved her all the same. She and I would while away many a summer afternoon in the shade of an outcropping of trees that sprung up around a little stream carved out at the base of a leaking water tower near her stables. While she nibbled on sweet watercress, I’d read (and reread) the classic; Misty of Chincoteague.

The story of how Paul and Maureen longed to buy one of the ponies that swam across from Assateague Island, was pure romance to my preteen soul. It didn’t hurt that my pony was a Paint with a large white marking on her side. It was one of those bittersweet books that crawls into your heart and makes you somehow enjoy the sad parts as much as the triumph.

Far removed from that stream by the water tower – my horse long passed – I now live close enough for a day-trip to Assateague Island. Taking my family down there is a treat. The beaches are far less crowed than the rest on the Delmarva peninsula, nearly pristine and yes… there are still wild ponies. 

surfing off Assateague Island MarylandThe population of the herd is kept under control in part by the annual Pony Penning (now called the Pony Swim) which remains nearly the same as described in Marguerite Henry‘s classic. On the last Thursday of July the Volunteer Fire Department of Chincoteague, Virgina – aka the Saltwater Cowboys– drive the herd on a short swim from Assateague to Chincoteague at slack tide. Here the foals are separated from the herd. 

The first foal to make the crossing will be named King or Queen Neptune and raffled off at the carnival that evening. The rest will be sold at auction, the adults returning to the island to live wild and free. 

Information on the 2015 Chincoteague Pony Swim

Date: July 29th, 2015

Time: Slack Tide (usually between 7:00 am and 1:00 pm

Admission: To view the swim is free

Parking: (free) Chinoteague Combined School – 4586 Main Street, Chincoteague, VA 23336

Other activities on Chincoteague Island Saturday, July 25, 2015:

  • 28th Annual Chincoteague Island Blueberry Festival (9:00 AM – 4:30 PM at the Chincoteague Center)
  • 90th Annual Chincoteague Fireman’s Carnival (7pm – 11pm at the Carnival Grounds)
  • ‘Misty of Chincoteague’ playing at the Island Theater (Check the Theater for show times)

Wild Ponies of Assateague Island Just as when I was that awkward book nerd who’s only friend was her not-quite-a-horse, I’ve mixed feelings about this tradition. In my ‘logical brain’ I understand the need to control the size of the herd. Can’t have them breeding and eating themselves out of a home. On the other hand, softhearted soul in me sees a certain cruelty in breaking ‘families’ apart.  

For now I think we’ll stick to spending lazy summer days on Assateague Inland, enjoying the sun, searching for a new shell for the collection, and keeping an eye out for wild ponies.

Not that they’re that hard to spot….

Roaming the roads Wild Ponies on Assateague Island Maryland


HELP! I’m ALONE in a Foreign Country and My Phone Won’t Work #truestory

How to get global cell service BEFORE you goIt was a warm and sunny January in Jamaica. Well of course it was.  I’d arrived at the airport in Kingston, but the people who were supposed to meet me were nowhere to be found.  Alone in a foreign country, in strange town, I did what anyone would do. I pulled out my phone. I was wholly unprepared for the obnoxious klaxon of  the “No Service” signal that greeted me. Cue the panic…

Help! I’m ALONE in a foreign country and my phone won’t work!!

Even though I travel quite a bit, somehow I hadn’t thought about global service in Jamaica. Maybe I’d been distracted by daydreams  of white sand beaches and rum punch. Who could blame a girl?

I spent nearly an hour waiting for my travel companions to show, then caught a cab to the hotel we were staying at. While I was winding through the streets of Kingston with a taxi driver who could moonlight as a historian – thoroughly enjoying myself – my family were back stateside growing increasingly worried about the lack of call from me. 

Once in the hotel there was a land-line and the bill to go with it.. gah! I got in touch with my family, all was well. It was on that trip that I decided that I’d rather pay for global service than ever end up stranded alone with no phone again. 

Things have changed a bit since my semi harrowing experience in Jamaica. Verizon (my carrier) no longer causes shell shock with that “no service” noise. In fact if you haven’t added international service before your trip you can still call within the country you’re in to reach their Call Center and get that your international all hooked up.

A few months ago I took my oldest daughter on her epic 16th birthday trip to Ireland. Before (like months before) we headed out I made sure to do my research and get both the best and most flexible global plan I could. No way I was going to pay over a hundred bucks for two weeks of service!

With the help of the friendly folks at Verizon I paid less than $40 up front and when I got back there was ZERO sticker shock. I had voice, text, and data with a bill that ended up being a whopping $3.78… YES that period is in the right place.

My poor Dad, who tagged along on this trip, wasn’t so lucky. The global portion of his bill was nearly $200.  I felt so bad for him! Nothing can tarnish great travel memories like getting hit with a huge bill one you get home.

I thought I’d reach out to my pals at the Verizon Buzz crew and see if I could get some useful 411 on going global with your gadgets – no one should ever be stuck in a foreign country without a cell phone… or worse, stuck with an enormous bill when you get back! Here is some of what I learned; 

4 Ways To Go Global with Verizon Plans

International Preferred Pricing

This is the plan I used in Ireland. There are two tiers to choose from, each has a per-line flat fee. What you pay for voice, text and data varies by plan.

per line              voice & text                                     data

International Travel Preferred Pricing with Verizon

note: there are also International Preferred Price Plan options that allow you pay $50 per line and get 250 MB of data, or $85 for 250 MB of data as well as 250 minutes of voice, 250 minutes of text and unlimited incoming texts.

Mexico & Canada

We’re heading to Canada in a few days, and it’s a good thing I’d reached out to Verizon for this info, we may have had another Jamaican Indecent on our hands.  I set up global service for three phones for $45. That gives the hubby, the teen and I each 100 minutes of talk and 100 texts. Any parent of a teen knows that is a huge deal when texts could otherwise be .99¢ each. I get the shakes just thinking about how much that could cost! 

per line                           voice & text                           data

Mexico and Canada international cell service with Verizon

Pay As You Go

Not sure where your travels will take you? Don’t think you’ll need that phone too much when you get there? Pay as you go pricing could be exactly what you’re looking for. Be aware though that this can be pricy. Voice starts at 99¢ a minute in Canada and Mexico and can go up as high at $2.99 a minute. Text and data pricing varies by country, but there are 140 countries with lower, “Preferred Pricing” options. 

Cruise Ship Rates

Here is where I leave you, or at least it’s an area I have zero experience with.  I’ve never been on a cruise ship that wasn’t docked right here in the good Ole US of A, thus never had need of a service like this. That said, I’ve a number of pals who dig the cruise thing and tell me that getting reliable data, and even voice service can be not only rough, but expensive. As it turns out, Verizon is the only carrier that offers a package that provides data, voice, and text for ONE price! So if you’re into cruising pop over to Verizon Wireless and see what’s up. Click on “View Cruise Ship Coverage” for a list of cruise lines available.   

Insider Tip: Verizon Wireless is offering a special promotion through their FREE Wi-Fi Connect app that allows you to connect to select wi-fi hotspots while traveling helping you get more bang for your buck.

Have you ever found yourself stranded somewhere without a means to reach someone at home? I’ll bet there are some funny stories out there. Do tell!


* (**) be sure to check with Verizon Wireless directly to verify plans and pricing, as well as any restrictions that may apply. 

Disclosure: As a member of a very cool team of influencers for Verizon Wireless I sometimes receive compensation, cool gadgets to test drive, or get attend special events. All opinions entirely my own, based on my experiences, because you deserve nothing less! 



Creative #CraftCocktails – Lavender, Blackberry, Limoncello-ade

Lavender Blackberry LimoncelloADE

Summers spent sipping lemonade, well it doesn’t get much better than that. Or does it? Well if you’ve got some fresh berries and limoncello… um, it could!

I love a great craft cocktail, but lets face it those puppies can be complicated to shake up. It’s summer, I want to relax, have fun, and just groove. This cocktail is bright, breezy and super easy – the trifecta of summer fun.

Lavender Blackberry LimoncelloADE
Serves 1
Lemons and lavender enhance the summery sweetness of fresh muddled black berries in this light and easy summer craft cocktail.
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
5 min
Total Time
10 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
5 min
Total Time
10 min
  1. 2 oz Limoncello
  2. 2 oz Blackberry Vodka
  3. 1/4 cup Fresh Blackberries
  4. 2 drops Lavender Essential Oil
  5. 1 Cup Lemonade
  6. 4 Lemon Slices
  7. 1 Sprig Lavender (optional)
  8. Ice
  1. Muddle blackberries with essential oil in a cocktail shaker. Add vodka, limoncello, and ice. Shake well. Place lemon slices and more ice in a mason jar. Pour cocktail over ice. Garnish with whole blackberries, lavender sprig, and lemon slice.
  1. This recipe is easy to double, or even kick it up to a batch big enough to put in a beverage service jar. Great for picnics and BBQs.
Chicken Nuggets of Wisdom http://chickennuggetsofwisdom.com/

Why Visit Turkey? For the coffee, and more…

Traditional Turkish Coffee and famed Turkish Delight - perfect for sharing with friendsCoffee – the ultimate conversation starter- has a long and storied history of being present where great things have begun. There was a cup of coffee on the table the first time I met Jessie.  It sat nearly untouched as I shared in one of the best conversations I’ve ever had about the importance of travel, its power to transform, elevate and educate.

My time with an immensely talented and passionate group of travel bloggers – including Jessie- at the White House Travel Bloggers Summit has taken me down paths I’d never imagined. Beyond that though, it has connected me with a group of people who prove that travel is a force that changes perceptions, challenges stereotypes, and brings us together in a way that nothing else can. 

I’ve yet to recover from the fact that life tossed a wrench into my plans to join the group on their recent voyage to Turkey.  {darn you, life!} While still laboring under the delusion that I’d be going, I was surprised at some of the questions that came my way.  This one came up more than several times;

“Aren’t you afraid to go to Turkey? I mean, isn’t it dangerous?”

Let’s be honest, there are some places that you might want to take extra precautions when traveling to {Antarctica comes to mind – frostbite is serious, people!}  In the end though, danger lurks right outside your door, if you let fear get the better of you it’s going to be rough to ever go anywhere. I had (have) zero fears about visiting Turkey.

Being that I couldn’t make the trip – this time! – I asked Jessie if she’d share some of the experience in a guest post. {She said YES! OMG!!!} I’m over the moon about this, enjoy! 

Stunning frescos and architecture inside the Blue Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey

Why Travel to Turkey?

Did you know that Turkey is a relatively new country (although an ancient and diverse culture)? This area was known as Anatolia and Thrace, and ruled by many empires, including the Byzantine, Ottoman, and Seljuk. It wasn’t until after World War I that the movement for Turkish nationalism gained momentum, and in 1923, the Republic of Turkey was globally recognized. The first president of Turkey was Mustafa Kemal, also known as Atatürk (father of the Turks). Wherever you go in Turkey, Atatürk is revered for his vision for the country, for his efforts at civil and political rights for all, and for his forward-thinking methods of economic independence. Wherever you go, a photo of Atatürk will be there, showing how important he is to the Turkish people.

Sultanahmet Camii - The Blue Mosque - Istanbul, TurkeyBut what’s it really like, to travel to Turkey?

Did you know that Istanbul is the 5th largest city in the world, and is larger than New York City (which is ranked #21)? It’s amazing to be there – Istanbul straddles two continents: Europe and Asia, and around every corner, history is present. You can be driving in crazy rush hour traffic, and see marine life on the Bosphorus on one side, and millennia-old walls on the other. You can find bookstores and lemonade cafes, international cuisine and simit carts and doner kebab stands, global goods and Turkish rugs (and fresh Turkish delight, swoon!). Every local I talked with, though they loved Istanbul, often went home, to the country.

Widen Your World - start with a tasty Simit served fresh from a cart in IstanbulFor here is what is amazing: even dedicated city people like Istanbulites feel a very strong connection to home, in the country. They go home as often as they can, to visit their families, to be home, to enjoy the beautiful countryside, to center themselves in their culture, to be reminded that family is everything.

And Turkey is incredibly beautiful. From Ephesus and the Aegean Sea to Sanliurfa near the Syrian border, Turkey shows its true nature: gorgeous, diverse landscapes and, of course, the famous Turkish hospitality.

If you’ve never experienced Turkish hospitality, let me explain why it is the main reason you want to visit Turkey. Turkish hospitality shows itself in many ways – from being invited over for coffee, taken out for a meal, helped in various ways, shown immense kindness, and being the recipient of Turkish generosity and compassion. Why? Turkish people believe that all visitors are guests sent by God. They honor guests by taking care of them, by learning about and from them. I never imagined it to be as complete and widespread, though, as I experienced it. The Turkish people I met went above and beyond to accommodate my disabilities, to talk with me, to teach me, and to care for me. It changed my mind about Turkey – a place I’d always wanted to visit – and turned it into a country I love, and a culture I can’t wait to get back to.

Why visit Turkey? The people. You’ll never meet a friendlier, more caring culture.

Photo courtesy of Gizem Salcigil White
Some of the White House Travel Bloggers gathered in front of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul – Photo courtesy of Gizem Salcigil White

More About Jessie

Jessie {or Dr. Jessie as I call her since she does have a PhD in International Education – boom!} is the publisher of Wandering Educators, a travel library for people curious about the world, and Journey to Scotland, a travel site for her favorite place in the world. She founded the Family Travel Bloggers Association, and directs the Youth Travel Blogging Mentorship Program. She’s published six books about travel and intercultural learning, with more on the way. If you can ever have coffee with her – do!


I have four kids and an opinion.