Our Whirlwind Last 6 Weeks!!! | Loftus Road Trip

Loftus Road Trip

Wow, to say the last several weeks have been jam packed would be the understatement of the year! Let’s see it started out with unexpected yet very successful hysterectomy surgery. Followed by recovery, Baseball season wrap up and ceremonies, Kindergarten graduation, packing up a four bedroom house, driving a car and a Budget rental truck from Boise Idaho to Chicago. Spending wonderful time with Colin’s mom Wendy, other wise known as Gaga! Then meeting Auntie Mern in Indiana where she picked up the boys and kept them for a week before meeting us in Washington D.C.

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The same day we dropped the boys off with my sister Mern, we then kept driving down to Lexington SC. where we unloaded all of our things in a storage unit and began looking for places to stay while we ultimately search for our Land to start building. Already having done research on school systems we are pretty focused on about 6  schools which narrow our immediate home rental search down a bit. We find a few possibilities but after 3 days of looking now get ready to head north again to hook up with the family in D.C and then head to my cousin Jeana’s High school graduation in West Orange New Jersey!!

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After spending the day in D.C we head to my Uncle Butch and Sherry’s beautiful home in Jersey meeting up with several family members and then head to New York City the following day to check on my nephew Shemaiah who was recovering in New York Presbertyrian Hospital from a baseball injury suffered right before his championship game. (Sending love and light your way for a speedy recovery Shemaiah)

Then we headed Uptown to Harlem, to visit our dearest friends The Riley’s who also happen to be the owners and founders of Harlem Blue Beer! We met up with them at the “Corner Social” restaurant in Harlem where we were able to catch up and enjoy amazing craft beer in an awesome setting. What an amazing night this was!!!

Then the following day we enjoyed our cousin Jeana’s awesome graduation party in West Orange. They pulled out all of the stops and was a wonderful fun packed party with swimming, dancing and all around fun!Good Thing a life gaurd was on hand because Ace jumped in the pool at 9 AM and stayed in until 10 at night.

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After leaving West Orange we went on to Atlantic City where we took advantage of staying right on the boardwalk by steel pier and had a blast! We swam in the Atlantic, went sight seeing, played carnival games, gambled and rang in my BDay in style. It was amazing.

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Then as only the Loftus Crew can do, we pulled an audible on our vacation plans and decided to extend our vacation by traveling up to Nova Scotia Canada  continuing our Loftus Land Search. Taking a road trip up through beautiful New England was stunning with all of the trees and flowers in full bloom. We saw a few properties in Maine that  we liked, then crossing the border we had a wonderful time exploring beautiful eastern Canada. Scouting land in several cities in the provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia exhilarating and exhausting.

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The scenery of the bays, and coastal landscape was magical however the drive a bit daunting after a while. I think driving cross-country from Idaho just 3 weeks before, then driving down to South Carolina, then all the way up to Canada began to take its toll… but we still managed to make the most of our hotel stays and long road trip drives. Remembering that “the joy is in the journey” we happily returned to the States back to South Carolina where we are still looking for our land and next opportunity for growth!

Stay tuned as I will be posting pics and posts from the past month.

Enjoy Life!




Travel Spotlight***Beautiful & Magical Ireland. (Mayo, County) | Loft & Learn, Ireland


Travel Spotlight***Beautiful & Magical Ireland

After Graduating from Michigan State University, Colin took an amazing trip to Europe and although he loved all of the countries he was able to visit, to this day he raves about his awesome experience in Ireland. He was able to visit Mayo County where his relatives are from. He speaks so highly of this beautiful country, from the country side in all shades of green, to the magical folklore and the friendly and truly joyful people.

Now Colin’s mother Wendy is heading for the “Green Isle”. In April she will take an amazing trip flying first to Shannon, Ireland. Their package for Western Ireland includes a car allowing them to travel around the ring of Kerry, Cliffs of Mohr, and Dingle Bay. After staying at the Killarney Royal she then heads to Ennis staying at the Temple Gate Hotel. After this she will jump over to London to see Colin’s brother Ryan who has moved overseas for work and loves it! This trip sounds so exciting, I can’t wait to see the pictures!!! (of course I will share…)

Irealnd Castle -Feature loftandlearn


The island of Ireland historically consists of 32 counties, of which six, collectively known as Northern Ireland, have remained as part of the United Kingdom since the rest of Ireland gained self government in 1922. The name “Ireland” applies to the island as a whole, but in English is also the official name of the independent state (ie the 26 counties which are not part of the United Kingdom), since 1921.

Celtic tribes settled on the island in the 4th century BC. Invasions by Norsemen that began in the late 8th century were finally ended when King Brian Boru defeated the Danes in 1014. Norman invasions began in the early 12th century and set in place Ireland’s uneasy position within England’s sphere of influence. The Act of Union of 1800 – in which Catholics, 90% of the Irish population, were excluded from Parliament – saw Ireland joining the United Kingdom. In the latter half of the 19th century and early 20th century the subject of Irish home rule was a major debate within the British parliament.

After several failed attempts, a Home Rule bill finally passed through parliament in 1914 though the start of the first world war saw its indefinite postponement due to heavily armed unionist opposition. A failed rebellion on Easter Monday in 1916, (after which 15 of the surrendered leaders were shot by firing squad and 1 hanged) showed a hint of things to come with years of war to follow, beginning with the Irish War of Independence (1919-1921) and continuing with the Irish Civil War (1922-1923).

Ireland Cliffs

Ireland Map 1
Eventually a somewhat stable situation emerged with the self government of 26 of Ireland’s counties known as the Irish Free State; the remaining six, located in the north of the country comprising two-thirds of the ancient province of Ulster, remained part of the United Kingdom — a status that has continued to the present day. In 1949 the Irish Free State became “Ireland” (a.k.a. the Republic of Ireland) and withdrew from the British Commonwealth of Nations. English is spoken everywhere but Irish (Gaeilge) is the first official language. It is part of the Goidelic branch of the Celtic family of languages.

Most people have some understanding of Irish but it is used as a first language by approximately 170,000 people, most of whom live in rural areas known as the Gaeltachts. About 55% (c. 2,500,000) of people in the Republic claim to understand and speak the language. As the Gaeltachts are generally scenic areas it is likely that visitors will go there. Tourists are not expected to speak Irish, but attempts at speaking Irish with the locals are greatly appreciated. The language will also be noticeable on road signs, etc. For instance, a law was recently passed that changes the name of Dingle, County Kerry to An Daingean, the Irish version. This should not confuse visitors, as almost all recent maps carry placenames in both languages in Gaeltacht districts.

In order to enter most Irish Universities, it is necessary for Irish citizens to have taken Irish to Leaving Certificate (Examinations taken on leaving secondary or high school) level, and passed. Indeed it is a compulsory language at school in the Republic, although its method of teaching has come under criticism. Nevertheless, although it has come under threat, and some resent being forced to learn the language, others see use of the language as an expression of national pride.

Mayo County Ireland Pre History

Ire Mayo county

Ireland Mayo County Flag
County Mayo has a rich archaeological heritage dating from prehistoric times to the present. (Achaeology is the interpretation of our past from the study of buildings and objects made by human beings. We are dependent on archaeology alone in any attempt to study the prehistoric period and thereafter to complement what is recorded in written sources). According to the present state of archaeological knowledge, the first people arrived in Ireland sometime before 7000 BC during what is called the Mesolithic period. They were nomadic tribes of hunters and fishing people who built no permanent structures such as houses or tombs. The first colonisation of Mayo probably took place during that period.
In the fourth millennium BC, during the Neolithic period, another group of settlers arrived in Ireland, our first farmers, who introduced agriculture and animal husbandry to the country as well as the skills of pottery-making and weaving. They started a custom of burying their dead collectively (usually cremated) in large stone-built chambered tombs known as megalithic tombs, the earliest surviving architectural structures in the country. There are over 1,500 such tombs identified in Ireland with approximately 160 in County Mayo. This fact indicates the importance of the Mayo region during the Neolithic period and into the Bronze Age (c. 2000- 400 BC) when this phase of tomb-building came to an end.

Early Christian Period
The early history of the county is obscure and frequently confusing with various tribes seeking control. Christianity came to Ireland at the start of the fifth century, if not earlier, and brought about many changes, including the introduction of writing and reading. St. Patrick, Ireland’s national apostle, whose floruit was the fifth century, is chiefly credited with the conversion of the pagan Gaels. Recent research indicates that St. Patrick spent considerable time in County Mayo, where according to tradition and some written sources he spent forty days and nights on the summit of Croagh Patrick fasting and praying for the people of Ireland; and had associations with places like Aghagower near Westport, Ballintubber (well-known nowadays for its medieval abbey which has remained in continuous use through all vicissitudes from its foundation in 1216); and Foghill near Killala, which has been identified by some writers with the Silva Vocluti , ‘the wood of Fochluth beside the western sea’ mentioned by Patrick himself in his Confessio.
From the middle of the sixth century onwards, hundreds of small monastic settlements were established around the country, many of which became very important. Some examples of well-known early monastic sites in Mayo include Mayo itself near Balla, Aughagower, Inishmaine, Ballintubber, Errew, Kilmore Erris, Balla, Cong, Killala, Turlough, Moyne near Cross, and island settlements off the Mullet peninsula like Inishkea North, Inishkea South and Duvillaun More.
‘Mayo of the Saxons’
One of the most interesting monastic sites in Co. Mayo was that from which the county derives its name – Maigh Eo. Colmán of Lindisfarne, having been defeated by the ‘Romanist’ party at the synod of Whitby (in Northumbria, in the north-east of England) in 663, withdrew with his followers, via Iona, to Inishbofin off the west coast of Galway. As a result of disagreement between the Irish and the English monks in the little community, the latter moved to the ‘plain of yews’, about sixteen kilometres south-east of the present town of Castlebar. The monastery they established there, known as Mag nÉo na Sachsan (‘of the Saxons’), became renowned as a centre of learning, and continued to attract monks of English birth for a century and more after its foundation.


The Vikings or Norsemen first attacked Ireland in 795 and Mayo around the start of the ninth century. On arrival, they started to plunder and loot places of wealth especially monasteries. It was partly in response to those attacks that round towers were later erected in monastic enclosures (most were erected in the 12 century). There are about 65 of these fine structures surviving in Ireland, with five located in County Mayo: Aughagower, Balla, Killala, Turlough and Meelock. The Viking invasion led to the establishment of settlements in a number of locations like Dublin, Cork, Wexford and Waterford which later developed into towns and cities.

The Great Famine

Early in the nineteenth century, there were a number of famines in Ireland, culminating in the Great Famine of 1845 – ’49, when about a million people died and a further million went into exile. The population increased from an estimated figure of four and a half million in 1800 to over eight million by 1841. The pressure of this vast increase exacerbated the fragile subsistence economy of the period, as land became subdivided into smaller and smaller plots. Destitution was already a fact of life for many and evictions became regular occurrences in the Irish countryside. Most of the impoverished population depended on the potato as their staple food product. Disaster struck in August 1845, when a killer fungus (later diagnosed as Phytophthora infestans ) started to destroy the potato crop.

The green stalks of potato ridges became blighted and within a short time the rotting crop was producing a terrible stench. About a third of the national potato crop was destroyed that year, and an almost complete failure the following year led to a catastrophe for the remainder of the decade. By ‘black forty-seven’, people were dying in their thousands from starvation-related diseases. The workhouses, built in the early 1840s to relieve appalling poverty, were unable to cope with the numbers seeking admission. Various parsimonious relief measures were inadequate to deal with the scale of the crisis.

The number of evictions increased. This process of ‘clearance’ (as it was called) was aided by the ‘quarter-acre clause’ (the infamous Gregory clause, called after its proposer, Sir William Gregory MP of Coole Park, Co. Galway) in the Poor Law Extension Act 1847 which excluded from relief anyone who had more than a quarter acre of land. Any such unfortunate person who was starving had to abandon his holding and go to the workhouse if he and his family wanted a chance to survive. Conditions became worse in 1848 and 1849, with various reports at the time recording dead bodies everywhere.

The catastrophe was particularly bad in County Mayo, where nearly ninety per cent of the population were dependent on the potato. By 1848, Mayo was a county of total misery and despair, with any attempts at alleviating measures in complete disarray. People were dying and emigrating in their thousands. We will never know how many died in the county during those terrible years. The ‘official’ statistics for the county show that the population dropped from 388,887 in 1841 to 274,499 in 1851, but it is accepted that the actual figure in 1841 was far higher than the official census return. It can safely be said that over 100,000 died in Mayo from the famine epidemic and emigration began on a big scale (there was some emigration before the Great Famine). Most emigrants from the county went to the USA, Canada, England and Scotland, to become part of the big Irish diaspora scattered throughout the world.

Ire Mayo county People

Irealand Matt Malloys  Irish Wishes--Happy St. Patricks Day

Irish stew and a pint of Guinness

Irish Stew and Guiness
Irish cuisine can charitably be described as hearty: virtually all traditional meals involve meat (especially lamb and pork), potatoes, and cabbage. Long cooking times are the norm and spices are limited to salt and pepper.

Classic Irish dishes include:

• Boxty, potato pancakes
• Champ, mashed potatoes with spring onions
• Coddle, a stew of potatoes, pork sausages and bacon; a speciality of Dublin
• Colcannon, mashed potatoes and cabbage
• Irish breakfast, a famously filling spread of bacon, eggs, sausages and white and/or black pudding, a type of pork sausage made with blood (black) or without (white). Irish Breakfast is often just refered to as a “fry”, and is usually available well past normal breakfast times in restaurants.
• Mixed Grill. Similar to the Irish Breakfast, but with added lamb chop, chips, and peas.
• Irish stew, a stew of potatoes and lamb (not beef!), with carrots, celery and onions in a watery broth full of flavour
• Bacon and Cabbage, popular and traditional meal in rural Ireland, found on many menus
• Seafood Pie, a traditional dish of chunky fish pieces topped with mashed potato and melted cheese


Travel Spotlight***Maui, Hawaii. The Island Vacation That Everyone Will Love! | Loft & Learn Travel Spotlight

Travel Spotlight

Maui, Hawaii

maui map loftandlearn

Well what’s not to love about beautiful Maui, Hawaii? Absolutely nothing! Before settling down on the Big Island Colin, Ace & I had the most amazing year on this stunning Island. With so many activities for the young and old, adventurers and spa seekers, Maui is easily Hawaii’s Island that pleases most people looking for the traditional Hawaiian Ideal.

From Award winning golf courses, to White sandy beaches and colorful flowers, lush hiking trails and waterfalls abound it is truly a sight to behold! Colin’s Aunt & Uncle Marita and Randy and cousin Gillian have lived in Maui for over 25 years now and were so kind to welcome us along with all of the Hawaiians, introducing us to the Hawaiian culture.


maui 6 road to hana

map 2 maui


One of my most fond memories of Maui is celebrating Thanksgiving on a beautiful beach overlooking the pacific. It was awesome giving thanks while taking in such earth shattering beauty of the beach and sunset. And what a place for my Parents to visit!! Yowza. It was such an honor to learn about this amazing culture and feel accepted and appreciated as well. From Local Legend and Folklore to Luaus’ and Hawaiian dance. There is such a rich history and tradition among Hawaiians that should be celebrated and embraced.

maui 4 trees

maui 5 loftandlearn

maui road to hana map
Keeping true to the Loft & Learn way here are some facts about Maui, the beautiful tropical paradise found on Wikipedia.com
Native Hawaiian tradition gives the origin of the island’s name in the legend of Hawaiʻiloa, the navigator credited with discovery of the Hawaiian Islands. According to that legend, Hawaiʻiloa named the island of Maui after his son, who in turn was named for the demigod Māui. The earlier name of Maui was ʻIhikapalaumaewa.


The Island of Maui is also called the “Valley Isle” for the large isthmus between its northwestern and southeastern volcanoes and the numerous large valleys carved into both mountains
Maui’s diverse landscapes are the result of a unique combination of geology, topography, and climate. Each volcanic cone in the chain of the Hawaiian Islands is built of dark, iron-rich/quartz-poor rocks, which poured out of thousands of vents as highly fluid lava, over a period of millions of years. Several of the volcanoes were close enough to each other that lava flows on their flanks overlapped one another, merging into a single island. Maui is such a “volcanic doublet,” formed from two shield volcanoes that overlapped one another to form an isthmus between them.

Polynesians, from Tahiti and the Marquesas, were the original people to populate Maui. The Tahitians introduced the kapu system, a strict social order that affected all aspects of life and became the core of Hawaiian culture. Modern Hawaiian history began in the mid-18th century. King Kamehameha I, king of Hawaii’s “Big Island,” invaded Maui in 1790 and fought the inconclusive Battle of Kepaniwai, but returned to Hawaii to battle a rival, finally subduing Maui a few years later.

On November 26, 1778, explorer Captain James Cook became the first European to see Maui. Cook never set foot on the island because he was unable to find a suitable landing. The first European to visit Maui was the French admiral Jean-François de La Pérouse, who landed on the shores of what is now known as La Perouse Bay on May 29, 1786. More Europeans followed: traders, whalers, loggers (e.g., of sandalwood) and missionaries. The latter began to arrive from New England in 1823, settling in Lahaina, which at that time was the capital. They clothed the natives, banned them from dancing hula, and greatly altered the culture. The missionaries taught reading and writing, created the 12-letter Hawaiian alphabet, started a printing press in Lahaina, and began writing the islands’ history, which until then was transmitted orally.[13] Ironically, the missionaries both altered and preserved the native culture. The religious work altered the culture while the literacy efforts preserved native history and language. Missionaries started the first school in Lahaina, which still exists today: Lahainaluna Mission School, which opened in 1831.

The two major industries on Maui are agriculture and tourism. Government research groups and high technology companies have discovered that Maui has a business environment favorable for growth in those sectors as well. Agriculture value-added enterprises are growing rapidly.
Coffee, macadamia nuts, papaya, tropical flowers, sugar and fresh pineapple are just some of Hawaii’s premium exports and are a prime example of its diversified agriculture. Maui Land & Pineapple Company[17]and Hawaiian Commercial and Sugar Company[18] (HC&S, a subsidiary of Alexander and Baldwin Company) dominate agricultural activity. HC&S produces sugarcane on about 37,000 acres (150 km2) of the Maui central valley, the largest sugarcane operation remaining in Hawaii.

A controversial feature of Maui sugarcane production has been the harvesting method of controlled cane field fires for nine months of the year. Burns reduce the crop to bare canes just before harvesting. The fires produce smoke that towers above the Maui central valley most early mornings, and ash (locally referred to as “Maui snow”) that is carried downwind (often towards north Kīhei). In November 2009 Maui Land & Pineapple Company announced it was ceasing pineapple growing operations on Maui effective January 1, 2010.


Here is a menu from the Luau at the Grand Wailea, A Waldorf Astoria, Hilton Resort

Appetizers & Salads
Surf and Turf Poke
(Pipikaula, Shrimp, Maui Onions, Phole Fe
rns, Kim Chee Base & Wasabi Vinaigrette)
Lomi-Lomi Salmon, Fresh Poi,
Green Papaya Salad, Potato Mac Salad,
Maui Grown Lettuce Bar, Cucumber Namasu,
Maui Gold Pineapple and Kula Strawberries
Sweet Bread Rolls with Macadamia Nut Butter
Maui Cattle Grilled Top Sirloin Steaks
Glazed with teriyaki sauce
Baked Molokai Sweet Potatoes
Guava syrup & mac nut butter
Fried Macadamia Nut Crusted Mahi-Mahi,
Light coconut & lime flavored sauce
Shoyu Chicken
Kalua Pig
Stir Fried Vegetables
Wok fried and seasoned with soy sauce ginger and garlic
Island Style Fried Rice Lup Chong and Vegetables
Enhanced with oyster sauce and sesame oil
Maui Chow Fun
Vegetables and pork char siu
Island Style Desserts
Chocolate Brownies topped with Macadamia Nuts
Coconut Cake
Pineapple Upside Down Cake
Traditional Hawaiian Haupia
Guava Mousse
Freshly Brewed Hawaiian Paradise Coffee,
Decaffienated Coffee, Assorted Teas
Hosted bar featuring Mai Tai & Pina Cola
da and Mixed Drinks, Beer, Wine and
Assorted Soft Drinks.
The Grand Wailea, Waldorf Astoria Hilton Resort. Breathtaking!
The Grand Wailea, Waldorf Astoria Hilton Resort. Breathtaking!

Here are some additional Fun Facts about Maui (click link below) from Maui Dream Vacations

Here are just a few of the many wonderful memories we had while living on Maui.

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IMG_20120204_140657 Ace Holiday Photos (1)

Ace Holiday Photos (28)  Ace Holiday Photos (29)

Ace Holiday Photos (6) Ace Holiday Photos (9)

Ace Holiday Photos (7) Ace Holiday Photos (10)

Halloween in Maui
Halloween in Maui





Amazing Resorts That Will Please Everyone On Your Next Family Vacation! | Loft & Learn Travel Tips

How To Please Everyone On Your Next Family Vacation!

If you are like me you may have very different personalities and hobbies to cater to in your household. For example my son Kingston and I absolutely love the warmth of  sunshine, reading by the pool or ocean and relaxing with good music. While Colin and Ace love snow, food and ANYTHING with a high level of adventure with a slight tinge of danger on the side.

So what’s a mom to do when planning vacations? Compromise. In our household where budgeting is a crucial factor in determining where and when we travel we have incorporated a few different ways to choose our family vacations. Here couple of fun options that keep everyone happy and excited for every trip!

  1. Grab a Mason Jar and have everyone write down where they would like to go and what they would like to do on a sheet of paper. Place inside the Jar. Now take a sheet of paper and make several blank boxes. When anyone in the family completes an amazing task or accomplishes something cool, or worthy (ie. great grades, community work, promotion, etc..) They get to enter their name in the jar. Everyone must agree on when the contest begins and ends so at the end of the quarter, 6 month mark or year, the person with the most name entries in the jar gets to have their vacation request honored.  This is a great way to promote hard work dedication and unity within the family. It’s a great way to achieve a hard-earned vacation and family time and also encourages creative ways to be of help in the family and community at large.

  2. Grab Bag. This is a much more laid back and fun approach to picking your family getaway. And in my opinion works well with weekend getaways. With the grab bag vacation option, as a family you write down multiple places you have yet to visit and place them in a hat, and then you just reach in a grab a slip and off you go!! Spontaneous, fun and sure to raise the level of excitement.

  3. Lastly and most often used by the Loftus Crew is good ole fashioned research for places that contain the most of everything we are looking for in one. While you can’t please everyone, there are a few areas and resorts that come close to providing most of what everyone would enjoy!

Here are 5 Amazing Resorts and Locations That Are Sure To Please Everyone In The Family!

Atlantis, Paradise Island, Bahamas.


So many things to do like relaxing on the beach with a pina colada, sliding down an amazing see through water slide in between sharks, water-skiing,  parasailing, gambling in the casino, shopping, getting a massage in the spa and much more make this a can’t miss family vacation spot.

Waldorf Astoria, Bonnet Creek, FL

Waldorf Astoria bonnet Creek

This lavish luxury hotel is only about 5 miles from Epcot and  6 miles from Magic Kingdom, and offers free shuttle service to both parks!! What a win-win. Perfect for pleasing the parents with 5 star accommodations and restaurants but yet a stones throw away from Mickey Mouse, Jackpot!!

Hilton Waikoloa Village, Big Island, HI

HiltonWaikoloa loftandlearn

For those of you already familiar Loft & Learn you know what a fan I am of this resort. As mentioned in a previous post this is hands down the most amazing resort I have ever seen. It serves as much more than a Hotel. It is also offers world-class art museum, fine dining, dolphin experience, luau, water-sport lagoon, waterfalls, and so much more. Our family loved every minute of it and is definitely on our places to frequent list when on that side of the Island. When visiting the Big Island, HI make sure to tour the award-winning Kona Coffee Belt and take a tour of one of the amazing coffee farms. See how the beans are picked by hand roasted with care.and Order a little Paradise in a cup and have some of the Big Island, HI everyday with Naturally Kona Coffee.

Ritz Carlton, Cancun, Mexico

ritz carlton cancun

Located in the Hotel Zone on an expansive white beach along a beautiful stretch of coastline. All guest rooms and suites boast ocean views to take in the cerulean waters. Rooms are exquisitely furnished, spacious, and well-appointed. Attentive staff provide outstanding service for all of your needs during your stay including twice-daily housekeeping. Children can stay busy with the Ritz Kids Mayan Adventures program providing physical and creative activities. Colin and I can attest to the fact that while beautiful and top-notch if you are looking for more local flare then head to (ciudad) downtown Cancun where you will find food with more local flare and moderate prices to balance this tremendous vacation out.

Beaver Creek Resort, Colorado

Beaver Creek Plaza at twilight in Beaver Creek, Colorado.
Beaver Creek Plaza at twilight in Beaver Creek, Colorado.

Look no further than Beaver Creek if you have any ski enthusiasts. They have an award-winning kid friendly ski programs, ski school, nursery, and white glove fast track adventure not to be missed. Spas, shopping, ice skating, sledding, are just a few more of the many things to do at this stunning vacation spot. And don’t get me started on the accommodations, from beautiful condos to luxurious stand alone family cabins the Beaver Creed Resort has it all.

Don’t forget to send in your vacation pics to Loft & Learn, Sharing is Caring!

Happy Travels,









Costa Maya, Mexico | Travel

Costa Maya, Mexico

Costa Maya, Mexico Spotlight Travel Destination
Costa Maya, Mexico
Spotlight Travel Destination

Costa Maya, Mexico

Costa Maya is a small tourist region in the municipality of Othón P. Blanco in the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico, the only state bounded by the Caribbean Sea to its east. This municipality is close to Chetumal on the border with Belize.

Costa Maya’s principal language is Spanish, but English is also commonly spoken. The average temperature high in Costa Maya is approximately 84 F°; the average low is 67 F°. The Mexican Peso is the official currency of Costa Maya, but most places will accept U.S. dollars

costa maya map loftandlearn

Costa Maya Beach loftandlearn


Fun Facts

Colin & I almost ended up living here and opening a Del Sol store on the Costa Mayan Port. We have spent a lot of time between Cancun and Costa Maya and find the Yucatan Peninsula to be one of our favorite places on earth!

• Early Mayans were predominant in the area from 200 B.C. to 900 A.D. The ruins at Chacchoben, constructed by the Mayans in the 4th century, include magnificent stone structures and pyramids.

• In August of 2007, the port of Costa Maya and the cruise dock sustained heavy damage when Category 5 Hurricane Dean made landfall with sustained winds of 175 mph, with gusts up to 200 mph. The port reopened in the fall of 2008.

• On February 1, 2015, Costa Maya and the Mexican state of Quintana Roo officially adopted a new time zone that corresponds to Eastern Standard Time.


Costa Maya Coconut Bread (Pan de Coco)

pan de coo

Costa Maya Coconut Bread Recipe
(Pan de Coco)

1 1/2 grated coconuts or 1 cup unsweetened grated coconut
2 cup water
3 Tablespoons yeast
3/4 cup warm water
2 Tablespoons melted butter
3 1/2 Tablespoons sugar
3 teaspoon salt
3 pounds flour (approximately)
1/4 cup melted butter
Directions: grate the coconut and discard any brown skins. Add 2 cups water to the coconut and let sit for 30 minutes. If using dried grated coconut, add an additional 1/4 cup water to compensate for the lack of moisture. Dissolve the yeast in 3/4 cup warm water. Add the sugar and 3 T of the flour and let rise until bubbles form. Add all remaining ingredients except flour. Add 3/4 of the flour. If you are using a bread mixer, add additional flour until mixture pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Mix for 5 minutes or until elastic. If mixing by hand, knead for about 8 minutes continually adding additional flour or until smooth and elastic.
Cover and let sit until doubled. Punch down dough. Divide dough into 30 balls. Place on greased cookie sheet and flatten slightly. The shape should resemble English muffins, only a little smaller. Each bread should be at least 1 inch apart. Brush with melted butter. Let rise for 30 minutes.
Place bread in preheated 400 degree oven for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and brush with additional butter. Serve warm or toasted.

I obtained this recipe from Mayan Beach Garden. I have included the link below where this recipe can be found http://www.mayanbeachgarden.com/recipes_breads.html

Sleeping Bear Dunes, MI | Travel

Sleeping Bear Dunes, MI

Ace and Kingston had an amazing time at the Sleeping Bear Dunes in Michigan this summer with Auntie Mern, Uncle Cleve, CJ and Grandma & Grandpa Ernest. They were able to help Ace celebrate his 5th Birthday!

As usual Auntie Mern turned it into a spectacular learning lesson and activity. Prior to going on the trip she read with Ace about the sleeping bear folklore so he could understand the Legend of the sleeping bear dunes and then when they arrived he had a completely different and unique attachment to what he witnessed.


Ace and Kingston, Sleeping Bear Dunes
Ace and Kingston, Sleeping Bear Dunes


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Recommended Reads



#kiddiebookclub #kbc #childrensbooksofculture
#kiddiebookclub #kbc #childrensbooksofculture


Michigan is famous for it’s Cherries..
Here is a great cherry tarts recipe from allrecipes.com

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Crazy Horse, Sioux Falls, South Dakota | Travel Spotlight

loftandlearn.com -Crazy Horse

Souix Falls was part of an unforgettable trip out west that I took years back with my late grandfather and family that still serves as one of my best ever!! White water rafting, horseback riding and Mt. Rushmore were several highlights. By far the one thing that left the best lasting impression was the monument of Crazy Horse and the story behind the Korscak Family who set out to pay tribute to this legendary Indian Chief. Their story of love and determination is awe-inspiring and evident in the visitors center. I remember going when I was younger and writing in the guest back that I would be sure to return. Now I definitely plan on keeping that promise with Colin, Ace and Kingston!!

Sioux Falls see you soon!

Recommended Reads on the Subject:

loftandlearn.com Crazy Horseloftandlearn.com --sf-books loftandlearn.com -sf---

Legendary Indian Chief Crazy Horse
Legendary Indian Chief Crazy Horse


Here is a great article from the splendid table about Chef Sean Sherman grew up on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.

loftandlearn.com recipe


National Park Hike and Bike | Family Game Night

Family Game Night Fun!

#familyfun #familygamenight #educationalgames
#family  #educational games

What a Fun night Playing this Hike & Bike Game. This is absolutely one of Ace’s favorite games to play for family game night, and not to bad for us adults as well. My Mom & Dad bought it for Ace this summer and he still can’t get enough of it. It involves learning about all of the National Parks and the different states too, so it has double value. It’s great for families that love to road trip, camp or Rv!!

around the house (35)

Thanks Grandma & Grandpa Ernest!!

5 Great New Tips for your Disney World Adventure! | Family Travel

Hey Everyone,

Here are just a few quick new tips for those who are Mickey bound!!

First off there are so many guides and great tips already floating out there for Disney World so I will add just a few of my personal fav’s.

  1. For those traveling with toddlers and young explorers I highly suggest picking up a copy of the Hidden Mickey handbook and best kept secrets! It’s great for keeping things interesting and fun even while waiting in long lines or searching for things to do in between rides and activities.http://www.amazon.com/Hidden-Mickeys-Disney-World%C2%AEs-Secrets/dp/1937011291
  2. Make sure to be the very first to arrive at the park! The early bird truly does get the worm in the case of Disney world perks. Often the first to arrive gets easier access to the rides and even multiple turns on the most hard to get in attractions. Sometimes if lucky enough you can even enjoy a mini tour by the on duty employees! Buses start running about 2 hours before the park opens. If you want to make it to the park in time to be at the front of the line, you need to get on a bus at least one hour before the park opens. That will give you time to make it through security and still get up near the front of the park’s entrance
  3. I like to Fastpass the Electrical Parade. We get there 30 minutes early, chill out on the sidewalk, grab some Disney snacks, and enjoy a great show.
  4. If you have a birthday in your party make sure to stop by the customer service center at the entrance of the parks and let them know. They will give you a custom badge and often times employees will give and extra shout out or bonus if they see it on display.
  5. This one is for Parents only, Make sure to stop by the Polyenisian Resort’s Kona Cafe for your delicious taste of 100% kona coffee to give your day the boost you need for your day of fun! http://www.naturallykona.com


Have fun and submit your pics of your Disney Vacation to malaikaloftus@gmail.com  I would love to share!!



#Great New Tips for Disney World #vacation #travel
#Great New Tips for Disney World #vacation #travel

Harris Family Reunion 2015, Atlanta GA | Family Fun

It’s a Harris Family Reunion!

Ace & Kingston had the most amazing time meeting and connecting with our Harris side of the family over the summer in Atlanta Ga! With most of the family originating from Pittsburgh then moving to Michigan, Atlanta, Texas and more the Harris family does the most amazing job gathering such a large family together year after year. Kudos to the organizers who make sure to pack in sports, activities, education, entertainment and lots of love!

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Harris Family Reunion

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Keystone, Colorado | Travel Spotlight

Keystone, Colorado. Amazing Family Ski Trip

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Ahhhhh, well what can I say about my first attempt on ski’s?…

Disastrous. But Spending Time with the Loftus Fellas (Colin’s Brothers Sean & Ryan and Sister n law Amy and their sons Jack and Dylan was so much fun! Colin’s Father and his life long buddies always gather in this stunning ski town and we were fortunate to be able to join them on this amazing trip.

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Also Great for summertime fun!

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It was a quaint little town with boutique family restaurants for the evening and lots of great hot coffee in cool ski resorts. There were so many things to do, even if you have vowed to never put on ski’s again like me (maybe I’ll try snowboarding)they had plenty of snowboard and ski lessons for kids, as well as hot tubs and hip and comfy ski lodge lobbies for entertainment. I can’t wait to return, only this time I think I’ll skip the ski’s and hit the ice skating rink followed by the hot tub with a glass of Champagne!

Here are a few fun facts about Keystone courtesy of Wikipedia:

Keystone consists of three mountains named Dercum Mountain, North Peak, the Outback, and five Bowls (Independence, Erickson, Bergman, North and South Bowls) for skiing at every level. The first three mountains mentioned connected by a series of ski lifts and gondolas. Collectively, the mountains form the largest operation in Colorado to offer night skiing, where several trails are lit by large floodlights, and lift operation can run until late into the night. Night skiing takes place after sunset until as late as 9 p.m. on as many as 15 of the resort’s trails.

Keystone is known also for its five-acre resurfaced skating lake, sleigh rides and many Zagat-rated four- and five-star restaurants. There are over 3,000 condos in Keystone, all within a short walk or free shuttle ride to one of the two base areas called River Run (newest) and Mountain House (Original, less crowded).

In summer, Keystone also is a home for lift access mountain biking, biking parks, and hundreds of miles of single-track mountain biking.

Here’s a cool site that has info on keystone’s summer festivals. http://www.keystonefestivals.com/the-best-reasons-to-visit-keystone-bacon-beer-wine-music/


Recipe for Colorado Mexican Pizza courtesy of allrecipes.com




San Juan, Puerto Rico | Family Travel

San Juan Puerto Rico, Travel Spotlight!

loftandlearn.com Puerto Rico--

Puerto Rico--


While I was pregnant with Kingston we took an amazing family vacation on a cruise to the Southern Caribbean. We we fortunate to be able to stay a couple of extra nights in San Juan. Our time in  San Juan Puerto Rico was phenomenal. We toured the Famous cobblestone streets, shopped, Gambled in the casino, and really enjoyed our trip to one of the famous forts. It was affordable yet fantastic. I can’t wait to return to see the rest of this beautiful Island.


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San Juan Fun Facts:

San Juan is the capital of the island of Puerto Rico, the fourth largest island of the Caribbean.

It is located on the north side of Puerto Rico. Its coastal borders are the Atlantic Ocean and the San Juan Bay.

San Juan suffered many attacks from English and Dutch forces during the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The Spanish-American war took place in 1898. After this war Spain ceded Puerto Rico to the United States under the terms of the Treaty of Paris, which was signed later that year. From that moment to the present day Puerto Rico has been a territory of the United States of America and San Juan continues being the capital.

San Juan Culture


  • Puerto Ricans are a mixture of native Taíno Indians, Spanish Conquistadores and African slaves.
  • Happiest people in the world! – as indicated by The University of Michigan’s World Values Surveys (WVS).
  • Very festive and warm.

Language: Spanish, English and Spanglish!

Food: Typical Puerto Rican food is very similar to Cuban food. It has Spanish/European, Taíno, African and American influence. Locals call this blend comida criolla. Main dishes are elaborated with grains, plantains, meats and poultry, vegetables, root vegetables, etc. Some of the most common dishes are the traditional arroz con habichuelas (rice and beans), arroz con pollo (rice and chicken), arroz con gandules (rice and pigeon peas), pasteles, alcapurrias, mofongo, etc


San Juan National Historic Site
The San Juan National Historic Site (World Heritage Site) is comprised of Castillo San Felipe del Morro, Castillo San Cristobal, most of the city walls, the San Juan Gate and Fort San Juan de la Cruz just across the entrance to the bay. The Spanish spent over 250 years fortifying the prized location of Puerto Rico, since through it, Spain controlled all access in and out of the Caribbean.



Puerto Rican dishes

Puerto Rican Red Beans and Rice

puerto rico dish


Empanadas (Puerto Rican Style)

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Great Books for the Kiddie club with Puerto Rican influence

Juan Bobo and the Pig Mondo Folktales


Family pics..

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5 Great Winter Family Vacation Options | Winter Family Vacation

Here are 5 awesome winter vacation options for a family affair!

We had a blast at each one and I’m sure you will too!

Keystone, CO (Ski wonderland for families)
Orlando, FL (Disney World, Universal Studios) Mickey Mouse. Enough Said.
Nassau, Bahamas, (Atlantis Resort) This resort has it all.
Maui, HI (fun adventures for everyone in the family) Simply Paradise.
Key West, Florida (Laid back tropical feel yet within driving distance for some)

Each Selection has a ton of options for everyone in the family from entertaining little ones to fine dining and spa relaxation for adults. Whether you are looking to chill by the fireplace or relax by the pool, you can’t go wrong with any of these suggestions. So pack your bags, have a great time, and don’t forget to send in your pics to malaika@loftandlearn.com . We would love to put your vacation pics on spotlight!!