Traveling & Inspiration

I never understood people who said they needed to travel, as if it was oxygen. I also didn’t understand those who claimed wanderlust. My family never put a priority on traveling. We travelled for need. There was a family thing happening that we needed to be at so we went and that was that. For my 8th birthday, my present was to go to Illinois to visit my family and meet my cousin. That was cool but after that, I never really travelled again. Well, I did a trip for the Thespian club I was in. After that though, seriously, no traveling. My naive self didn’t realize how much fun it could be. I didn’t even care that we didn’t travel for our honeymoon. In fact, I was relieved when we decided to stay home, in Vegas, and do touristy things for our honeymoon. 

Within the past year, we’ve decided we rather do more fun things than have fun things. Like, TV’s are cool but have you been to Universal Studios? Have you been to a beach? The beach is a happy place for me. I can just sit in the sand all day with a journal and I’ll be good. Last summer, we took Little Man to the beach and had the best day ever. We bought an umbrella, had snacks and books and my journal and I did not want to leave. I didn’t even care that much about getting into the water. (I did for Little Man) but I was content just existing on the beach. I was content. I didn’t need anything else, just the view. After we got home the following day, it was all Little Man could talk about. He kept asking when we were going to go to the beach again. So, we decided that we were going to start traveling more, budget permitting. We decided that gifts could also be travel, holidays can be celebrated with travel. Plus, living 4 (ish) hours away from California and the things I want to do there makes life easier. 

One of the biggest tips in the writing world is that you need to be living life if you want to write. Your characters will have life on those pages and you need all the experiences you can give. Google helps but it doesn’t replace experiencing something for yourself. At least for me. I couldn’t write about a theme park and a character going to one without going through one myself. In Vegas we have the Adventuredome, which is a theme park but it is completely different than big theme parks like Disneyland and Universal Studios. Completely different and if I were to write a character based on my experiences at Adventuredome, it would probably be about walking around in a giant circle and occasionally going on rides. 

This summer only we have travelled more than in the 9 years we have been together. I am enjoying every single second of our travels and the extra special family time we get. I love seeing Little Man experience new things and get excited over rides and roller coasters. With all this travel, I’ve had ideas and story arcs that I wouldn’t have thought of at home because I don’t have the same scenery. I meet interesting people I can put into a character. It’s more for me to draw from. Every time we go somewhere new, we try to find something we cannot do back home and it is always exciting to look around for something fun to do. (Thank you travel blogs!)

It’s so nice to take a step away from normal, daily life and experience a new place with new people and new things. I will say Washington is totally different than Vegas. In all the best ways. Mainly the heat, I left 100+ temperatures, experienced beautiful 80’s and then came home in the middle of the night to 104. The weather alone made the trip amazing. We could do everything outside. Now that I’m home, I cannot do everything outside. However, I can look into doing new things here at home. I won’t be able to travel all the time. That doesn’t mean I cannot experience new things at home though. While traveling is amazing and I understand those people I mentioned earlier a little better, inspiration can be found in travel and seeing new places. Experiencing new things can also draw inspiration. You just gotta look around a little bit. 

Universal Studios

A few weeks ago I took my son on his first trip to Universal Studios. I haven’t been to Disneyland yet in my life but this was my third trip to Universal. My dad took me and my brothers when we were little and all I remember is the T-Rex from the Jurassic Park ride and there was some tour where I was sitting on my dad’s shoulders and there was fire. My second trip was hubby’s and mine first vacation. That trip was about 2 years ago, meaning we were together for 7 years before we took our first real trip together. (And we are never letting another 7 years go by before our next one.) 

So for my third, it was Little Man’s and my first trip together just us. We got to visit with some of my family who live in California and go to my favorite place on earth. I know everybody says Disneyland is the happiest place on earth, but for me, it is Universal Studios. Maybe I’ll change my mind once I see Disneyland but Disneyland doesn’t have the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. 

Little Man is a little guy and was tall enough for exactly 1 ride. Well, one big person ride. There is an awesome area called Silly Fun Land that is modeled after the carnival from Despicable Me. Little Man is tall enough for the rides and things in that area because it was designed for the little people. The one ride he was tall enough for was the Flight of the Hippogriff in Wizarding World of Harry Potter. My son looks an awful lot like my husband, like his little mini me. For every ounce he looks like my husband though, he acts like me. He asked me three more times to go back and ride that roller coaster again. He loved it so much! He also handled the long line for the rollercoaster like a champ. (FYI roller coasters are my favorite.) 

So basically, we had a blast and he hasn’t stopped asking me when we get to go back ever since. So, I am going to share some tips and tricks I have from my trips to Universal and all the research I did before these trips

1. Strollers are your friend. 

Little Man is four and I don’t think I’ve stuck him in a stroller since he was two. However, when thinking about the crowds and how was I going to keep Little Man close to me, allow me to feel safe and like I’ve got him, my options were a stroller or a leash. Strollers also have the benefit that he gets to rest his legs when he gets tired of walking. If you’re like me and haven’t owned a stroller in years, you can rent one at the park for $15 and it is the best $15 you’ll spend there. 

2. Backpacks are a must.

Adios purse! I ditched my cute bag for a backpack and it was so nice to have my hands free. I kept my jacket in there along with my water bottle and other things that I needed to carry around with me, like a battery pack for my phone) Also, it was great place to stash any goodies I bought in the different areas while I was walking around. Like, my son’s transformer. Also, I ditched my wallet for a small id carrier and that made carrying all my important cards and cash so much easier.

3. Caffeine? 

If you like soda or just enjoy drinking caffeine all day long, Universal Studios has a souvenir cup they sell that allows you to have unlimited refills of soda all day long. There are multiple fill up stations throughout the park for you to keep it full. 

4. Cash is King.

This is a saying that has been around for decades. Pulling out cash just makes the park easier. I like to budget what I get to spend at the park, pull it out in cash and then ONLY spend that. I don’t use my card for anything and just use my cash. Using cash also keeps me in budget and makes me really think about what I am buying. It is so easy to swipe a card but sometimes it can be hard to remember every single time you used it when you’re trying to stay in budget. Using cash, you just count what you have and that is what you have. Simple! 

5. Have fun!

Family trips and theme parks are supposed to be fun! Breathe and go in with a go with the flow mentality. This is the opposite of me normally. I’m a planner and I research and make game plans for anything I do. I throw all that away when I take trips. Trips are supposed to be relaxing and fun. Am I going to be exhausted after being out all day? Probably. I’m getting old and being out all day is just exhausting. Once I get into the park though, I have zero control over what happens. I cannot control a 45 minute line to just get popcorn. I cannot control a 60 minute line for a ride while a toddler who wants to jump around all over the place. I cannot control people trying to hang out in a pathway to get to the stroller parking. I can either breathe and let it go, or let it frustrate me and let it ruin my trip. I rather go home with a smile on my face instead of thinking about all the things that went wrong. Let your inner child out and have fun!

P.S. Meet all the characters you can, totally worth it 🙂

Meeting Bumblebee was one of Little Man’s favorite things.

Mommy/Son Dates

When I was a kid, Saturday mornings were for my mom. We would go out on mommy/daughter dates and spend most of Saturday together. Usually we went to run some errands, sometimes Costco or Sam’s Club trips. We would go to the bookstore so I could pick out a book. We would go to the mall and sometimes I even got to get a book from the bookstore in the mall. (which is no longer a thing and hurts my heart.) We would get lunch at Applebee’s when we were done. Sometimes Chili’s, but normally it was Applebee’s. I can still see the restaurant in my head where we would sit in the big booths next to the big windows. I could people watch and see all the cars driving in the parking lot. It wasn’t glamorous but it was my time with my mom and I loved every single second of it.

Now that I have my little man, I decided to keep the tradition going. We have mommy/son dates once a week. Usually, it involves a trip to Starbucks to start us off, I like caffeine and Lucas gets a little treat. It’s really a win/win situation. Then we’ll run any errands I might need to run. After the errands, if any, we go do something fun for us. Sometimes we go to the library, or the bookstore. Now that the weather is better than rain but not too hot yet, we might go to a park, or maybe I’ll take him to the museum. The point of these activities is that he gets to do whatever he wants and have fun. If we go to the library, he gets to pick whatever books he wants to check out and we can sit and read whatever he wants to read while we are there. Our library also has coloring stations so he can color whatever he likes. 

During our dates, I make a concentrated effort to keep my phone away unless I am taking pictures. If someone texts or calls and it can wait, it waits until after my date. My focus is on Little Man and whatever we are doing. Little man loves to talk and tell me stories so I listen and keep track of everything he tells me. His favorite thing right now is to shout out “banana” and “apple pie” randomly. 

My favorite thing about keeping this tradition is that we have so much fun. Last week we went to California so our mommy/son date was Universal Studios and we did whatever he wanted there. I stopped to see every character he wanted to see. We waited in lines for whatever ride he wanted. I’ll be posting about the trip soon so keep an eye out for that. I cannot wait to share all the fun we had. This week we did a Target run where he got to pick out a toy and we went and got lunch. After lunch we hung out at the place for a little bit (they had wifi) I worked on getting next month ready in my planner and he did his ABCMouse for a half hour. While our date was smaller this week, we still had a good time. Our date was smaller this week because later that day we picked up my brother to take him out for dinner and went to the bookstore and we all got a book. 

My pastor tells us constantly that children spell love T-I-M-E. He isn’t wrong. I know one day Little Man will grow up and I’ll be the last person he will want to hang out with, so for right now, I’m going to do my mommy/son dates while they make him happy. He even asks for them now. “Mommy, can we go on a date?”

Embracing Motherhood

Last week was my birthday and I am officially 28! I’m like steps away from 30 and my life is the complete opposite from what I imaged it would be. The biggest example of this point is that I have a four year old when my plan was that I would start considering kids by the time I was 28. Obviously, I would want a moment to be twenty-eight and get used to it for a minute so the thought process involving kids would still be a month or two away. 

Instead, I had my son when I was twenty-three. He wasn’t planned. In fact, he is my most favorite surprise. When I found out I was pregnant I had a whole mix of emotions, all of this I’ve actually wrote about back on an old blog. I might repost it one day. Basically, being a mother does not come naturally to me so being pregnant five years earlier than when I wanted to be thinking about it was terrifying. Actually, I’m still terrified of being a mother. Since Lucas was born people have been asking me when the second one would be coming. The answer? Half past never. I will never understand the societal pressure of giving a child a sibling and I don’t understand the questions about when a second one will be coming. Why can’t I just enjoy the first one? Why can’t he be the only one? Why can’t it be okay that I know exactly what I want and can handle? Babies still terrify me and I used to work in a preschool and handled babies daily. Today, if you tried to handle me a baby, I would be half afraid that I would drop it. I’ve kept a human alive for four years and I still don’t know what I am doing. 

The social media world has been talking about personal joy-doing things that make you happy and to just live your best life. Don’t do things because others expect you to or because you think other people want you to-do the things that you want to do. This conversation is a good one, one that I applaud. So now I’m going to drop a bomb that many people are still going to get uncomfortable about. I’m done having kids. I’m more than okay with my family of three and I intend to keep it that way. 

This little family of mine-my husband, my son and me-makes me so happy. I love our time together. I love our family dates. I love how my husband and I work together in parenting our child and how we mostly agree on almost everything when it comes to parenting. This little family of mine has me embracing the most terrifying part of my life, motherhood. 

It wasn’t always as easy as just saying that I love my family and I am embracing it. In fact, until recently, motherhood was like a side job for me. Everything else I committed to before being pregnant came before my son. My husband was home to help out when I had to be out in the evening and we just made my commitments work. I hardly spent any time with my family, we were just busy and we tried to be okay with it. One day the business would end, right?

It didn’t. In fact, we just kept getting busier and big things happened that made us sit down (mainly me) and reevaluate what we were doing and what wasn’t working. My busy schedule wasn’t working and saying yes to everything asked of me wasn’t working. Not making my husband and son a #1 priority wasn’t working. So I changed it. I still have moments where I immediately jump to say yes but I’m working on it. I’m working on changing my mindset and what comes first. 

Thankfully, my son makes wanting to spend time with him easy. It hit me that he was four years old and I feel like I missed the first four years of his life. I know I didn’t. I was there for everything but I still feel like I was missing out on something. I know that I am going to feel this way regardless of what I do. I am going to blink and he’s going to be heading off to college. However, in that blink, I want to see all the fun stuff we did and not wonder how much I missed. 

Once I thought about it like that, it became so much easier to say no. My relationship with my son comes #2 to my relationship with my husband. Time is more valuable than money and while I can always earn more money, I cannot get time back. So my free time is mainly given to my son and my husband. We’ve also sat down and talked about what kind of lifestyle we want to live in regard to our availability to our son. For example, because of different circumstances, I am now working part time. I never thought I would say the following words but I don’t know if I’ll work full time again. At least, full time where I don’t control my schedule. There is something in the blessing of being able to be there for my son. He’ll be in school soon and I don’t want to miss field trips, class parties and mom’s day in school. I want to go to all the performances and be at all the practices. 

I never thought I would be sitting in this boat where I would want to be this mom that does all the things, but here I am rowing it. And I’m okay with it. If it means cutting back on some more things, then so be it. Right now, I am in a place where I can work part time, my son is at home and it works for us. It is working for my family and I don’t believe in fixing things that are not broken. Can things be improved on? Sure, but right now, I’m enjoying the time I get with my family and I’m embracing the fact that I am a mom. Plus, in all of this, I get to display for my son the chasing your dreams thing that I had to learn on my own. My son gets to watch me chase the goals I set out to accomplish, the God-sized dreams that God put on my heart. He is right next to me helping me and watching me achieve them. That is something I won’t get a re-do on so I’m thankful for the place I am in right now. Even if it did take some dramatic circumstances to get me here. I’m a mom, a cool mom if you ask my son, and I’m finally seeing how awesome that is.