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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Family Travel

Can it be?  Can school be out for summer? Is May really almost over?  Memorial Day is Monday which signals the beginning of summer and for many the beginning of travel season.  Most of us that travel travel with our kids and could all use a little advice on how to make these trips easier, more enjoyable, and fool proof.  Lucky for all of us I have an experienced traveler, writer and Mom who has some great advice on this very subject.  Kendra Thornton has written a post about this very subject and offers some excellent advice to get us on the road and possibly answer the question, “Are we there yet?” 
Travel with Kids without the Hassle

The thought of leaving everything behind and embarking on a family vacation fills many with excitement and anticipation long before the departure date arrives. Busy schedules and other commitments often inhibit the opportunity for enjoying quality family time throughout the year. So pack up your beach gear and get in the car – its time for a family vacation! If you plan carefully you are sure to create a pleasant time for all. 

Are We There Yet?

It is no surprise that children become fidgety when sitting in a seat for an extended length of time, whether in an airplane or car. A DVD player and a few new movies help pass the time. An iPad with a favorite book or a new game also keeps a youngster’s attention. On a long flight, combat stiffness and boredom by allowing for standing and stretching along with special treats. Road trips provide the convenience of stopping for meals, at rest areas or special attractions.  In the summer it can be fun to stop at a park for a picnic or three-legged race.  Winner picks the next round of car tunes.

Home Away from Home

If you haven’t started looking at hotels with family travel in mind, start considering how the various amenities will affect your trip. Whether you’re going to a beach resort or need a one night stay on a long road trip, there are a variety of options you’ll want to consider. Does the property lie within close proximity to local attractions and sights? Does it have a fridge or microwave for preparing healthy snacks in the room? A pool is oftentimes essential for summer trips!
Want your entire trip planned for you? Look into an all-inclusive resort.  Depending on the age of the children, parents often evaluate facilities for special perks that may include game rooms, playgrounds or onsite water parks. If contemplating a romantic evening, parents may opt for a venue that offers babysitting or supervised kids club activities.  My family chose a family friendly resort in Honolulu that had plenty of entertainment for the grownups as well as the kids.  These are a great option that provide entertainment for all ages and require little to no additional planning in terms of activity.

To Pack or Not to Pack

Packing is one of the less glamorous aspects of travel, but essential to a good vacation.  Start packing a week or more in advance, leaving absolute daily necessities for last. Create a list of clothing and items to take along with things to do before the trip. Oftentimes it’s the little things that get left at home that cost a great deal later – such as a new bottle of Advil that costs $20!  If handwriting a list seems bothersome or incomplete, find a smart phone app that fills the bill.

Blankies, Teddy Bears and Bedtime Stories

Parents and children often have particular rituals that make up daily life. Vacations typically mean escaping the mundane routines that keep life in some semblance of order. For younger children especially, some rituals remain important for their health and well-being. If little ones require naps during the day when at home, they will certainly need these rest periods while on vacation. Children also typically need refueling every few hours and families should continue regular meal times.  Pack a variety of snacks to tide your kids over when tummies begin to grumble so you don’t need to race to the nearest restaurant.

Transportation Tummy Aches

Motion sickness plagues many, young and adult. Avoid heavy, greasy foods before a trip. Sitting in the vehicle with a view of the front or on the horizon often helps prevent dizziness and nausea. Seats over the plane wing feature the most architectural stability and experience the least amount of turbulence during flight. In either scenario, cool, circulating air also helps alleviate symptoms.  You may also want to consider a remedy for motion sickness.  Consult your child’s pediatrician before starting a new medication, particularly when leaving town.

IsBio: Kendra Thornton: Travel advocate, TV spokesperson, PR businesswoman, proud wife and mama of 3. I am a long time travel expert who has been packing my bags and traveling the world since I was 3 months old! I've found my utmost desire in life is right here in my own home. I have taken my excitement for travel and brought it to you with some of my favorite travel tips and tricks. Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Summer Preparation

I can’t believe that we are almost through May!!!!  Where has the year gone?  If you have been following me for a while you know what this means, the summer is quickly approaching.  This may seem normal for most people, after all summer does come after spring, but for me it means I have to give up my precious Angel to her Dad for the summer.  The court ruled that Angel go to her Dad’s the 2nd Friday of June and stay until the last day of July……with no visitation with me during that time.  The past 2 summers for me have been very difficult, the first one being the worst (she was only 14 months old when she left and I didn’t get to see her for 2 months!!!! See Post)  Last year was some better, she was older and could talk to me a little on the phone, it was still very hard.  I have been telling myself this year won’t be nearly as bad, she is not leaving until June 15th and hopefully her Dad will bring her back the last weekend in July instead of the 31st which makes it roughly 6 weeks instead of 8.  In that time I am going on a trip, that is 1 week, I have a meeting, that is 2 weeks and I have plenty of things to do around my house all that should total about 4 weeks.  So it will be like she is only gone for 2 weeks…Right???  I have been telling my friends, awe it’s not going to be that bad.  Besides I could use a brake, catch up on some sleep, have dinner with friends, clean out cabinets, um twiddle my thumbs!!!!  I have been telling myself “it won’t be that bad” since January and really thought I would be ok until today.  Angel left today to go to her Dad’s for his typical visitation.  The only difference is she left 2 days early and will be gone 12 days instead of 10.  She left this afternoon before I got off of work so I gave her my goodbyes this morning.
I didn’t think much of her leaving today, after all this is the norm for us, but it hit me yesterday that this was her last month before she leaves for the summer.  Yesterday instead of going to the gym I took her to the park where we played for 2 hours.  Last night when she put up the usual fuss to not sleep in her bed because it is “broken” and sleep with me in “Mommy’s big bed” I agreed.  I held it together this morning, when she cried and told me “don’t leave me here!!” like my Mom’s house is some horrid place.  After I got her calmed down and got my last kiss from her, I got in my car and left for work.   As I backed out of the driveway I she ran into the back yard and smiled at me.
There she was waving and dancing for me.  She was barefoot wearing a pink dress with cupcakes for pockets.  As the sun was coming up behind her and back-lit her hair like a halo, and I swear for a moment I saw wings on her back, her own set of Angel wings.  I closed my eyes and let that vision sink into my memory and prayed that I would never forget it.    

This is still one of my favorite pictures.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Post Mother's Day

I hope everybody thoroughly enjoyed their Mother’s Day yesterday. I've heard from some of my Mom friends they took trips to the beach, wineries or just relaxed.  My day started off extremely well, coffee and biscotti in bed. This has become Angel and my weekend tradition.  Every Saturday and Sunday morning I cover a huge portion of my bed with towels and we proceed to make a huge mess with homemade biscotti and a nice cup of coffee for me and a cup of steamed milk for her.  She loves this and even asks if we can do it during the week.  After cleaning up her chocolate crumb beard, we got ready to go to church. When we arrived at church Angel wanted nothing to do with going into the nursery and leaving me. She cried, pulled my hair, begged and pleaded for me not to leave her there. After a blood curdling scream, that I know they heard in the sanctuary, I decided she could go to big church with me.  After all it was Mother's Day, so I grabbed her and we went to big church together. I have to sing praises of her behavior in big church. Any three-year-old is expected to be a little squeamish and fidgety in big church.  It is not in their nature to sit still and listen to a preacher, but she was extremely well behaved (for the most part). She only turned around and waved at the people behind her once. 

After the preacher finished his sermon on how important mothers are, right out of Proverbs 31, he asked all the men to stand up and applaud all the women in their lives; mothers, wives, sisters and daughters. Although I didn't have a man standing beside me applauding and glorifying me, I did have Angel.  Maybe that is why she wanted to come to big church with me.  She knew all along I would need her rewarding applause.  I did get to witness one of the sweetest things during this show of appreciation,  the man in front of me turned to his wife, grabbed her chin with his hand, delicately kissed her and said to her “Thank you for being the greatest blessing to me and our children.”  I thought to myself how sweet that was and with a tad bit of jealousy bowed my head and thanked God for the thing blessing he has given me and of things to come. Yesterday afternoon was filled with lots of love, family and friends. My own AMAZING mother cooked a huge dinner like it was Thanksgiving! My mom, who always goes out of her way to make me feel special and loved, outdid herself yet again with gifts from Angel. And even though I didn't have a man celebrating what a great mother I am, I had Angel who told me happy Mother's Day a billion times and that she loved me over and over. And that's what it's all about. The other part will come. 

I would like to quote something one of my very good friends husbands posted on her Facebook page for Mother's Day “
Happy Mother's Day to the best looking woman on the planet! Thanks for all you do for me and the kids. We are blessed to have you in our lives. We love you! 
Guys if you've got a good woman that's a good mother to your children tell her and tell her often how awesome she is.  Sometimes that is all the gift we need…..but we will also happily accept jewelry, spa days and even cold hard cash.  ;p

My little Super Hero!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Happy Mother's Day

As this Mother’s Day approaches I think about Angel who has put me in the greatest role of my life, my sister who has proven to be an excellent mother raising 2 amazing girls, my friends who are mothers and of course my own mother, who Angel loves more than me (or so it seems at times).  I haven’t given much thought to anyone who doesn’t have their mother with them anymore.  I didn’t think about this until this past February when a friend that I have known since elementary school sent me this message in response to my Valentine's Day post.   I am sharing it in its entirety, with her permission, with my readers.  When I read her words I could feel the raw emotion she was feeling and I cried for her loss.  It got me thinking about people we love and lose.  I know tomorrow will be hard for her and her family, this being the first Mother’s Day she does not have her mother with her.  As you will read, her mother was born on Valentine’s Day and entered heaven on that same day.  Although she did not like sharing the holiday, based on what my friend had to say about her mother, I think it was a very appropriate holiday for her mother to be born on.  Whenever my friend celebrates her mother’s birthday it will be a day associated with love. 

I am finally able to pick up reading your blog again. You are an amazing writer, keep on writing. I just want you to know I agree somewhat with you about Valentine’s Day. I've never really been in to the gifts, flowers on valentines, except a little jealous in school when all the girls got flowers and such. I instead celebrated my mom’s birthday. She hated the fact that she had same birthday as holiday, she felt cheated. The older I got the more I loved to celebrate her day and this year was the most special. You see my mom this year turned 59 on Valentine’s Day it was the most special day ever. My dad cupped my mom’s face and told her happy birthday, that she was the best valentine’s gift ever given to him. He kissed her and told her he loved her so much and she was more beautiful every year they were together. Then dad sat back in his chair and took a short nap (it was 330 am) just as dad started snoring (500 am this time) I walked over to her hugged and kissed her and told her I loved her and happy birthday. I checked her vitals and watched her struggling to breathe, at that time my dad woke up and asked how she was doing. Told him that the BP machine wasn't picking up her BP probably because he pressure runs so low. (wrist cuffs never quite accurate anyway) I covered her up and sat down at their kitchen table and started up my brother's tablet to play a game. I just started playing when my dad rubbed my back and leaned over and whispered I think your mom just passed, I don't hear her breathing. I didn't believe him and walked over to mom's bed (about 15 feet from where I sat) and I watched her. She wasn't struggling to breathe; I put my head on her chest and checked her pulse and nothing. I cupped her face and her lips blue, cheeks cool I couldn't believe it, I was just there less than 10 minutes. I ran to the back room and tackled my brother and told him mom passed. Through the tears, I watched my brother go to mom and whisper in her ear and kiss her. I don't know why but I smiled through those tears and my heart aching and said what a birthday present she got. A love note and kiss from dad before she left and now a big celebration in heaven with her parents. What a fabulous gift for her. 
I went to work Wednesday and found candies and cards for Valentines from coworkers. I just tossed them in garbage but thanked people. So this is my Valentine story, happy birthday to my mom it will always be her day. I am not telling you this to make anyone sad, just that I agree every day should be the day you tell someone you love them not just 1 day.

Because I feel that, in the Heavens above,
The angels, whispering to one another,
Can find, among their burning terms of love,
None so devotional as that of "Mother,"
Therefore by that dear name I long have called you-
You who are more than mother unto me,
And fill my heart of hearts, where Death installed you
In setting my Virginia's spirit free.
My mother-my own mother, who died early,
Was but the mother of myself; but you
Are mother to the one I loved so dearly,
And thus are dearer than the mother I knew
By that infinity with which my wife
Was dearer to my soul than its soul-life.
by Edgar Allan Poe