Orlando Vacation

Full disclosure: I used to write fanfiction. It’s how I met my lovely friend, Emily, who I finally met in person after three years of e-mails, Skype calls, and iMessages. This vacation was significant for many reasons, we were celebrating a birthday, meeting up with friends and family, and taking our first real vacation in years. We did some traveling last year but it was always for an event and as a result had very little downtime. This vacation, although jam packed with fun was a lot more laid back.

Our vacation began last Saturday. We left the house at around 10:30am and made a couple of stops before getting on the turnpike. Diego slept for most of the ride and when he wasn’t sleeping he was happily singing along to whatever was playing on the radio.  Instead of heading straight for our hotel we stopped at my husband’s aunt’s house to see his grandmother. We had a nice little visit before finally making our way to our hotel.

I have to give my friend credit for finding our amazing accommodations. The Sheraton Vistana Villages Resort on Internatonal Drive was nothing short of wonderful. Our room had a dining area, living room, kitchenette and separate bedroom as well as a screen covered balcony. The resort was very family friendly and located close to pretty much anything you’d want to do in the Orlando area.

We didn’t do much on our first night there, my friend was pretty tired from her trans-Atlantic journey and the day had worn us all out. Sunday was spent by the pool and we ended our day with dinner at Smokey Bones. Dinner was delicious and a little uncomfortable for me as I spectacularly spilled a glass of ice water on myself. My husband got a little wet as well but I bared the brunt of my clumsiness. I spent our entire dinner sitting in damp clothing! Still, it was a small mercy that it was water and not soda.

The one disappointment during our trip was having to cancel our visit to Magic Kingdom. Diego had a bad night and that prompted us to make the decision to stay in bed and skip our visit. We later noticed that Diego is having a tooth come in so that was probably the reason he kept waking up that night as he is usually a good sleeper. It was the only night during our stay that he did not sleep straight through. I guess this just wasn’t our time to visit the park. That’s the thing about traveling with toddlers, you never know when they will throw a wrench in your plans. I suppose other parents might have chosen to go ahead with their plans but I just couldn’t do that to us. Diego would have been cranky after getting such few hours of sleep and the day was hot. It would have been the worst possibly scenario under which to take him to DisneyWorld for the first time.

Even though we didn’t get to do every single thing we had wanted to (days seem longer in your head when you create your holiday wishlist) we still had a really good vacation. I only wish it had been longer!

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For all the mothers

I’ve always viewed Mother’s Day as a commercialized holiday meant to guilt people into purchasing expensive flowers and gifts for mother figures. I was surprised to learn that the holiday that we have today is far removed from the holiday it was intended to be. For some interesting information about the origins of this holiday take a look at this article on American Live Wire.  Regardless of its commercialized taint, Mother’s Day is a difficult day for many. There are those who no longer have a mother to celebrate with, or those who have been trying unsuccessfully to become mothers themselves. For better or worse, this holiday puts motherhood and mothers at the forefront of our minds. It can be a sad day and I think this sadness should be acknowledged.

To me, Mother’s Day should be about celebrating motherhood in all its forms. You needn’t have ever been pregnant to be a mother, and you needn’t have carried a baby to term either. Motherhood is a state of being that transcends biology. There are women who will never have a child of their own (either by choice or circumstance) and they are mothers, too. If you’ve ever loved a child as if he/she were your own then you are a mother. Being a mother is not made up of the single act of adopting, or becoming pregnant. Being a mother is a verb, it is something you do with your whole being, with your whole heart.

Being a mother, to me, is nurturing the caretaker side of our humanity. By this definition being a mother isn’t limited to women. Men can be mothers as well.

When I think back to my own childhood I fear that I am not living up to the standard my mother set. I don’t feel as organized as she seemed to be. To this day I often feel incapable of stocking up my pantry, and planning dinners consistently still eludes me. But don’t feel sorry for me, because I don’t. This sort of thing amuses me because whenever I talk to other women I usually find that at some point we all feel this way. Mothers tend to be very critical of themselves. I believe it means that we care.

For all the mothers out there, in all their forms, ages, and stages, and for those who look down on us from above: Happy Mother’s Day!

Current Favorites

Coming back from vacation is always difficult. Somehow, the brief reprieve from the day to day routine leaves me a bit dazed. I am working on a post all about our holiday but in the meantime I wanted to catch up with the Blogging 101 assignments. Today I will be sharing some of my favorite web pages and blogs. I like to read all sorts of blogs but these three are the ones I find myself returning to over and over again. I find them to be not only fun and interesting to read, but also useful.

  1. Clean My Space – Melissa Maker and her husband make really neat videos full of tips and tricks all about cleaning pretty much anything you’ll ever need to clean. The blog posts are enhanced with the high production value videos made for their YouTube channel. Melissa’s content is both entertaining and informative. She always makes me want to clean something!
  2. Mama Natural–  Genevieve is a hip, crunchy mama who shares her experiences and information as she seeks to improve the health of her family through real food. She also has a YouTube channel where she shares her day to day life as well as recipes, tips, and general information. I am not crunchy myself, but I am interested in real food and natural living. I also just love her personality. She’s a very genuine person and I thoroughly enjoy her content.
  3. Joy of Baking– I love to bake and there is nothing I love more than a good recipe complete with demonstration. Stephanie Jaworski has created a great resource complete with a YouTube channel where she takes you step by step through her recipes. There is something here for everybody and I have found myself recreating her recipes on more than one occasion. She’s a pleasure to watch and her recipes are always easy to follow.

I hope you’ll take a moment to visit these blogs and take a look around.

Ring of fire: my life as a performance artist

Some days it feels like I am jumping through hoops that happen to be aflame.You don’t need to be a parent to know what I am talking about. When we stop to think about it we all have a myriad of responsibilities at any given time. It’s performance art at it’s finest. Stirring the morning oatmeal while carefully helping a toddler with his sippy cup, chatting on the phone with customer service while folding laundry, sweeping the floors while listening to an audiobook, or favorite podcast, the list is endless. There are rings of fire everywhere and we somehow manage to leap through them without being singed, most of the time anyway. For me, the biggest ring of fire is most often my anxiety followed by smaller rings that need to be negotiated.

This week is a busy one for me. My husband turned 30 today and I wanted to make his birthday special, so that turned into a little project for me. We are also going on vacation this weekend and there’s a lot of packing and list making to do. On top of that there’s the daily task of keeping the house clean and its inhabitants fed (and clean as well!).

A week like this one really gets started a few weeks in advance. I ordered a present for my husband online and I also decided to start a group card for him. If you’ve never heard of this service you should definitely check it out here. It’s a fun way to make a birthday special. I also did some Pinterest research for ideas for a birthday cake. I usually bake a cake for my husband’s birthday, it’s become tradition. As much as I love to keep things hot and spicy in the challenge department I decided that I could not manage to bake a cake this time. I just felt like I had too much going on. I could have baked a cake but I was afraid of what that would do to my overall timeline. A friend pointed out that baking should be fun. I agreed, and decided that stressing out over a cake was not worth it. I decided to order a cake from my local grocer’s bakery.

I still wanted to make the cake my own so I ordered a vanilla cake with white buttercream frosting. Two tiers, with a border. The decorating I would do at home. Such a simple thing saved me hours in the kitchen. I have decided that this has been a brilliant idea. Do any of you do this? I can think of so many awesome ways I can decorate one of these store-bought cakes. It might just be the new tradition.

On Tuesday I ordered the cake and picked it up that evening while doing my grocery shopping. Before heading home I stopped at the Dollar Tree for some balloons and adhesive tape. I also picked up a banner that I wasn’t planning on purchasing but once I saw it I knew that I did not want to make it as I had planned. Once I got home I had to clean up the after-dinner mess and tidy up a bit before finally sitting down to work on Wednesday’s birthday celebration. It’s a lot of multi-tasking.

Here’s how the big day turned out:


Dinner at Friday's.

Dinner at Friday’s.

Cool birthday sign I picked up at the dollar store.

Cool birthday sign I picked up at the dollar store.

The finished cake. I added the ribbon and the bunting.

The finished cake. I added the ribbon and the bunting.

Move over juice cleanse, it’s time for a social cleanse

I am participating in the Zero to Hero challenge here on WordPress and in interacting with the community of bloggers that’s participating in this class I was inspired to write this post by Lhu Wen Kai’s post titled 5 Types of People You Should Avoid to be Happy , and Ditch the Bun’s Finding Myself in the Red Centre

I am a firm believer in forgiveness, second chances, and trying to see the best in people. I do not discard people lightly, but I strongly believe that sometimes it is best to part ways with a person who has become toxic in your life. We often talk about people and things making us happy, but aren’t we the ones really at the helm of that happiness? I choose to make myself happy by surrounding myself with people who bring out the best in me. I do not charge my husband with that responsibility. He does, in more ways than I can count, contribute to my happiness but I cannot lay responsibility for it at his feet. If I am unhappy about something I always bring it up. I ensure that we communicate by participating in that communication, by initiating that conversation. Self-care means that I am looking out for myself. I cannot expect people to know how I feel if I do not tell them.

I am very fortunate to be a part of a small group of reading enthusiasts online. Our conversations range from what we are currently reading, to what we are making for dinner. We are all very different, we have different opinions and points of view. I have learned a lot from these women and I feel that having them in my life makes my life better. Sometimes they challenge my beliefs, reinforce them, and sometimes they even change my thoughts about a given thing. These are the type of people who I love to have in my life.

As much as I love my online life there are times I need to step away from it. Social media is a wonderful thing, until it’s not. When I start feeling crabby or irritable at just about every post that comes through my feed I ask myself, is it me? Or is it them? It’s time for a social cleanse!  A juice cleanse makes us reconsider what we put into our bodies, well, a social cleanse makes us reconsider what we consume with our eyes and minds.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  1. Limits. Instead of dropping into your Twitter or Facebook feed constantly, set a specific time in the day to check your alerts and respond to anything important.
  2. Go whole hog and disconnect for an entire day, or two, or three. Sometimes I do this by simply browsing rather than participating, but other times I really do my best to stay offline completely.
  3. Limit your interaction with toxic people. These negative people range in variety and may include: the always negative, the woe is me, the look at me, look at me (also known as an attention seeker), the hates everything, and the share everything. Sometimes it’s enough to mute them from your feed.
  4. If you have a cluttered e-mail inbox take some time to go through it. Delete anything you don’t need, create folders for what you do. I find that cleaning up my inbox makes me feel productive.
  5. Unplug. Take a breather, regroup. I like to sit with a notebook and write down ideas for my blog, or jot down a to do list for the week. Taking time for yourself is important. We all need a break from all the interaction we do.
  6. Make a decision. If a person drains you, makes you feel bad, or in any way affects you negatively, choose to either address it or let them go.

Have you ever done a social cleanse? What things work for you?

One year of blogging!

It has officially been one year since I started blogging. I originally started my blog on Tumblr but as I learned more about blogging I decided to buy my domain and move to WordPress. Sometimes, when I tell people that I have a blog they make a comment along the lines of, you must have all this time on your hands since you stay home with your son. To them, I have nothing better to do and so this blog is a waste of time. An indulgence. I won’t lie, that stings a little and the vain part of me bristles at the idea that some people view me as a sort of layabout.

In any case, regardless of what others may make of my public sharing of my life and thoughts, I feel confident that through blogging I am gaining valuable, marketable skills that will be useful in my future endeavors. I have learned how to set up a blog, where to find free, royalty free images, how to edit my images using free software, how to customize my blog, and I’m even learning a bit of html. Not bad, for a little hobby that I indulge in late at night when the men in my life are sound asleep.

Looking back through my posts is one of my favorite things to do. Reading how I felt, what we did, and what I thought we would do is both interesting and amusing. It’s been both a challenge and a great joy to write my blog.

As a thank you I am giving away a $20 Amazon gift card to one lucky reader!* All you have to do is leave a comment below. You can also use the contact me form. I will pick a random winner on May 22nd and I will announce the winner on a blog post on May 23rd.

*Must be 18 years or older to enter. Void where prohibited. Open to residents of the United States.

Why I blog

I’ve been blogging for almost a year! I sometimes can’t believe that I have managed to write over eighty posts so far. It’s been a lot of fun for me to come up with things to write about and share my thoughts as well as snippets of my life with family and friends.

Here are four reasons why I blog and plan to do so for a long time:

  1. It’s fun. Blogging can be as serious or as lighthearted as you want it to be. It’s encouraged me to try new things and learn about new things.
  2. It’s a creative outlet. The content of my blog is all my own. I decide what I post and how I post it. I can blog about anything I want, recipes, hairstyle ideas, and even crafts.
  3. It allows me to document thoughts, events, and other interesting endeavors.  My favorite part about blogging is being able to look back. One day, when Diego is older he will be able to sift through our lives through the blog. He will be able to get to know me in a different way. I think that’s a wonderful thing.
  4. I love writing and blogging is a way to practice. Writing, like anything, is something you get better at through practice. I try to write a little every day. My blog is just one of the places I do so. Sometimes I look back on a post and I think about all the ways it could have been better. If I encounter a typo or grammatical error I am quick to correct it. I don’t aim for perfection, but I try to not make any grave mistakes.

When I started this blog, I did so in order to be able to share my life with friends and family far and wide, and with the hopes of maybe sharing it with some friends I made along the way. I like to share experiences, perspectives, inspiration, and photographs. I started this blog in order to document my life as a wife, mother, and eternal optimist. A lot of my posts will be centered around my own parenting wins and losses, but I like to share things that would be of interest to people whether they are parents themselves or not.