Travel/Hiking/Getting Out With Kids

I’ve been getting a couple of questions, getting some comments, and hearing remarks from other families about how great it is when you have kids that are “easy” travelers, love to be outside, don’t mind walking/hiking. Most of these are in a tone of surprise, some have further questions, and I have heard a couple people say that they wouldn’t travel as much because they do have kids.

Let me say this, in the grand scheme of things traveling with kids is easy.

That’s putting it lightly. It’s obviously not “easy” and it is a little bit more complicated than if it was just you or you and your significant other, but it is definitely not as hard as people seem to think it is. Kids are not a reason not to travel. Let me say that again- kids are not a reason not to travel. In fact, they are a really good reason to travel.

This is going to be a post in two parts, the first talking about how we started and managed to travel/hike/get out with our two boys and the second will touch on the good reason about traveling with your kids.

When we had Colton we did a fair amount of day trips, getting out on the weekend and exploring our area. We did two long distance trips a year, one to see family and the other to a new location every year (both of which we drove to). We also did one long haul flight when he was a little over a year and a half.

Honestly, there has been no special secret to traveling with him, or with Andrew. We’ve just done it.

Has he had meltdowns? Yes, in fact he had the worst meltdown in a Dunkin Donuts in Berlin. Did it suck? Yes. Did people stare? Eh kind of (as much as they ever have in any other circumstance). Did it end? Yes. Did we quickly finish our food and head out, yes. It wasn’t an end to the trip, it didn’t change our enjoyment of the trip overall and it definitely didn’t change our minds to traveling in the future.

Yes, on the whole we have relatively easy going, up for anything kids, BUT I’ve found that kids are willing to go along on a good amount of things if you are wiling to take them. We do a variety of things on our vacations, some things with the kids in mind (Tiergarten in Berlin), some things with Mom and Dad involved (Mozart’s Birthplace in Salzburg). We make sure that we combine things throughout the day of kid friendly and mom/dad. We make sure that meals are as close to the same time when we are out as when we are home.

I’ve also found, specifically when it comes to hiking, being active, and being outside (also just being away from screens), kids follow their parents lead. Lately Colton, currently 3 ½ years old, has taking to walking almost 90% of our hikes. We recently did a “light/mild” hike through some Castle Ruins. We ended up walking almost 2 ½ miles that day and he walked almost all of that.

We’ve had some really long days while traveling. Walking, riding various forms of public transport, and while we’ve had moments of meltdowns (to be expected either way), they’ve both adapted really well to this sort of go, go, go. If anything I think they enjoy it, seeing all sorts of different, new things. They nap when they need to whether that is in a little umbrella stroller or on our shoulders and are generally really good on the fly.

Our weekly walks (once or twice a week) go about 1 ¾ mile and he walks all of it without being asked to be carried. Even Andrew at 2 years old is walking a good amount of these walks we do. We have always been outdoorsy, always chosen to walk a lot, hike, be outside as much as possible and I think that is a lot of why our kids are that way as well.

Basically what I’m saying (if this makes any sense), is to just go with it. Get out, experience the world, have a positive mindset about it and your kids will follow that. They model their behavior off of you as their guide, so if you are open to these new experiences, so are they.

Quickly I want to touch on WHY traveling is so good and important for our children. The first is that it teaches them a level of independence. Of learning how to handle new environments, new places, and new experiences. It also shows them that there are other places in our world. The world is a wide and wonderous place full of different people, cultures, and traditions. I think it is incredibly important to teach and show our children as many of these as possible. Our children should know more than what they grow up in, they should know of the world and if you can do that for them in some way, that is invaluable towards their future and their lives. I can touch on this in a separate post if you’d like.

And that is how/why we travel with our kids. Ultimately it comes down to just doing it. If you are wondering how to travel with your kids, more practical tips/or things that we take with us, let me know below and I’ll talk about that in another post!

Motherhood and You

Motherhood is all consuming, a never-ending cycle of care, but don’t let it consume you. Don’t simply become “mom”, don’t lose yourself, who you are, in caring for your children. Don’t cling to them as they start to grow up and grow away. Being a mom may be the most important hat you wear, or title you receive, (however you want to think of that), but it is not solely who/what you are.

All too often, starting almost immediately after birth, we become consumed by being a mom. By taking care of a little human being that depends solely on us for EVERYTHING (daunting, so daunting), by trying to be everything for this little being, and all too often we lose who we are in the process. We become so wrapped up in that “mom” role that we don’t take care of ourselves (a post for another day), we don’t take care of our significant other, we don’t take care of our friendships.

These things start to fall to the wayside, and it isn’t until we are a couple years in (or longer for some) that we realize that we don’t know who we are anymore. We have become a mom, the greatest blessing of all, but we’ve lost who we are in the process.

This is a normal thing that just about everyone experiences to varying levels. That isn’t to say that we can’t get back to who we are, or avoid this entirely, I’m just saying that this is a normal thing to go through. In fact, even the most prepared parents (the ones who swear that parenthood won’t change them) go through a level of this. It’s a natural instinct when we have a child that our world changes to revolve around this baby and it’s a very sweet time in our lives (postpartum depression/anxiety/and other issues aside). That doesn’t mean that it lasts forever. Our children will grow, they will mature, they will become independent and need us as parents less and less. That change is why it is important not to lose who you are when you become a parent.

How do we handle this? How do we allow motherhood/parenthood to take over our lives, and still maintain who we are?

Little things. What do you like to do in your free time? What did you like to do before you became a parent to relax?

Did you like to exercise? Find a gym that has childcare. Have your significant other take over the parenting duties for a few hours while you hit up a workout.

Did you like to read, write, watch TV, YouTube, etc.? Great! Naptime and after Bedtime are great opportunities to do these! (In fact, I squeeze a lot of my reading time during naptime and after the kids go to bed).

Did you like to shop or explore new areas? Perfect, you can do that with baby OR if you want baby free time, have your significant other or family watch the baby while you get a little break.

The main takeaway from this is not to have time away from your child, although that is needed too, but to find time within your day to do what works for YOU. What makes YOU happy. So much of motherhood is spent tending to others (and not just your own children, being a mom turns you into everyone’s mom) and it is easy to lose ourselves in that. So so easy to be swept away taking care of everyone and everything else.

If that is what fills you up and makes you happy, perfect! Do more of that. BUT don’t forget to take a little breath for yourself.

Big things. Find time for you and your significant other to have a little time together at the very least once a month. Take care of that relationship or it will fall to the wayside. Check in with each other throughout the day, send that sweet little text. Have a moment while the baby is napping. Hire a babysitter when baby is a little older to get much needed date nights in (no matter what those actually look like).

Everyone says that one day your children will go up and leave and then what will be left is you and your significant other. This is true, but what is more important is the example that you are setting for your children. From the get-go, our children learn from us. They see what a stable relationship and family looks like from us, so water your own marriage and your children will see how to water their own (when that time comes).

Make sure that you and your spouse are on the same page as situations arise so that you can be a cohesive unit. Parenthood can help your marriage thrive and grow into new heights, or it can fall to the wayside. More than likely it will ebb and flow between both (again, completely natural), but the continual watering will help everything stay on a balance to continue to go towards success and happiness.

Ultimately, motherhood is a phase of life. For those of us who are mom’s (in any form) it is an all-encompassing blessing. It never ends and takes a lot of who we are. BUT it doesn’t have to be solely who we are. We were somebody before we were “mom” and while being mom takes precedence, don’t say goodbye to who you are. She is still there, and she should be able to shine as well.

A Little Post About Friendship Groups/Tribes/Villages/Whatever You Want To Call It

I originally titled this blog post “I Don’t Have a Group, and That’s OK” and while that is the overall narrative of my post I felt like it did a disservice to the friendships that I am forming and do have, the people that I would consider a friend “group”…so I adjusted it J

How many times have you heard “Find Your Tribe” or, “My Mom Group”, or really anything along the lines of find your people? I’m betting it’s a lot. Our society is hyper focused on grouping people together. It’s nothing new, it’s always been something that we’ve done whether it be in a positive or negative light. Since social media has become such a large part of our lives it has become even more prominent. You’ve got your followers, your circle of people in your corner of the internet. You find “influencers” talking about how great their tribe is. You find salesman talking about how you can join their team, so great to be part of a team, yada yada yada.

They speak about these teams/groups/villages/whatever you want to call them as if they need to be large numbers. As if you need to surround yourself with many people, all who have your back and all that you would call your friend.

But do you really need that large amount? Do you really need them all to be local?

***Let me say this first- I do believe that it takes a village at times. I do believe that having friends nearby, in your area is essential. I believe that you should always have one or two people in your area that you can count on. If anything, just for your sanity. ***

I don’t think so. I personally don’t want to have a large friend group. I have a select amount of friends (and I don’t say that in a snobbish way AT ALL) that I talk to quite a bit. These are people that I would call in a pinch, that I can tell anything to, that I can count on at any point in time. It is a very SMALL amount. I don’t consider it a group as we are all different and my friendships with each person are different (but the same), but they are my friends. I cherish their friendships and hold them close.

That’s not to say I am not a friendly person. I’ll say hello and have a conversation with almost anyone. I’m talking about friendship, true friendship- that is what I limit. To me, and I think to most people, it doesn’t matter if you know 50 people, if you can’t talk to them, confide in them, trust them, then it doesn’t help.

That may be a harsh way of putting things, but in this I am blunt. Maybe that’s because I’ve people assume that I am not friendly or don’t have a lot of friends. Maybe it’s because I constantly see people bending over backwards to make (and call) everyone they meet friends. I find that that popularity contest that we all felt in Highschool is still VERY prevalent in adulthood.

I guess what I am trying to say is that it is better to focus on quality rather than quantity. That’s what I do and what I would encourage you to do as well.

A Week In Our Life

Good morning! We’ve semi settled into our lives here in Germany and, while we don’t have a house as of yet, we do have a bit of a routine to our weeks. I didn’t want to do a morning or evening (or even Day In The Life) routine as it is bound to change when we get a house and I can do much more before the boys wake up, but I did want to share a little insight into what our week looks like.

We try to get out of the hotel at least 3-4 mornings during the week. The weekends are spent outside the hotel as well, either exploring somewhere new or running errands that need done. I find that the biggest thing for our boys right now is being out and about. In the hotel they don’t really have access to all of their toys, are limited to what activities they can do, how loud they can be, etc. and tend to get stir crazy really quickly. Thankfully the community here has quite a few options, and we have found places to go. I’ll try and keep this as brief as possible for you 🙂

One of the things that we keep in mind is that 4 day weekends typically (but by no means always) fall on a Friday-Monday schedule. When I was trying to break our week down, I purposefully kept Friday-Monday open with MY schedule (of writing and chores) so that I don’t feel so cramped when we go travelling on long weekends. It seems a little crazy (and maybe it is) as what I do can be so flexible, but in my mind if I have my own schedule for getting things done, it makes everything a little smoother. And then everything actually gets done. Some of our long weekends fall on a Thursday-Sunday or Saturday-Tuesday and we just adjust and make it work.

Our Basic Layout is: M/F unscheduled time, T/W Playgroup, Th Library. Read on for the specifics J

Monday:

IMG_6250Monday’s are fairly wide open, we usually head out for a walk to our little park down the road and spend about an hour or two walking/playing/soaking up some sunshine. When it is raining/snowing/can’t head outside, we will hop in the car and head over to some of the stores to walk around. Basically Monday morning is an unscheduled morning that we try to spend out and about. During the boys afternoon nap I’ll tidy and do some reading.IMG_2870

 

 

Tuesday:

Tuesday mornings are spent at playgroup. The boys have LOVED going to playgroup since the first day we went and I love that they get a chance to play with a whole bunch of toys (that we didn’t even have in our actual home), play with other kids, and run/scream as much as

 

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they want. It’s a great way to burn some energy of AND help them develop in ways that they haven’t been able to before now. It’s also nice for me to be able to get to talk to other adults and just relax for a minute. During the boys afternoon nap I generally work on writing and blogging things. I check emails, write or schedule blog posts, review my stats, etc. I basically consider it a “working afternoon”

 

 

 

Wednesday:

Another playgroup morning. After playgroup we will usually run to the grocery store or shopping store to pick up anything that we need. We also typically get lunch out and just have a little mid week treat. During naptime I have another “working afternoon”.

Thursday:

Thursday mornings might be my favorite morning of the whole week. It is storytime/library morning. It’s a little bit of a later start than Tuesday and Wednesday, and it involves soaking up books. What more could you ask for? Colton is starting to really get into books and reading and will finally sit still for story time, so this has become a fun morning for him. It’s a good balance to the two previous mornings of running around with loads of energy. Andrew is a bit more hit and miss with story time (just due to his age and the fact that he’d rather be running right now, he will get there eventually J), but he loves the coloring after the stories. We also usually pick out some books to take home and read, both for the boys and myself. During naptime I usually handle anything that I hadn’t gotten to on Tuesday or Wednesday. This is also when I just do some personal/life admin, journal, handle any paperwork that needs to be handled, etc. I am hopeful that once we get a house and I start working on my actual podcast, that this will be a podcast recording day.

Friday:

Friday is the only weekday that we stay at the hotel. We will try and head down for the community breakfast in the mornings, or I’ll make something special in our room, and then we come back up for a morning of snuggles and cartoons. I find that we do need to have one day where we aren’t doing anything to just relax and not be going all the time. It helps the boys and myself. If the weather is nice, we may head out for a walk, but on the whole we just try to take it easy. This follows during naptime as I will do a little tidying/life admin and then read.

So that is a little bit about what our weeks look like! This is something that won’t really change when we get a house, like my morning/evening routines will change. I still am struggling a little bit with having the newfound free time that I have, but I am slowly starting to get used to the idea of filling what I fill and being able to have a little freedom with the rest. When we get a house and I am able to actually have a full SAHM routine, I’ll talk about how my day is structured/mornings and such in more detail.

 

 

 

 

1st Quarter 2019- Favorite Things

Good morning! It is April!! I can’t believe that we are already a quarter of the way through 2019, boggles my mind. I like to think of the year in quarters, in both evaluating my own goals, looking at business/blogging posts and such, as well as in just a general sense. I feel like tracking every month is a bit much for me, but I can’t not check in with myself and others at all, so quarterly is my happy place. I do an overview for what my intentions are for the year, how I’m achcieving (or not achieving) what I want, how my writing and posting are going, as well as how my reading is doing. I look atour family finances, what we’ve done as a family, our activities, etc.

This morning I am going to talk about some of my favorite things from the First Quarter of the year. This ranges far and wide from food and drinks to clothing and accessories, to movies, music, and TV Shows. I will try and include a variety of items and things that I talk about from quarter to quarter.

Clothing/Accessories:

IMG_0265.jpgIf you follow me on Social Media you know that I’ve been pretty much living in sweaters over the past couple of weeks. We are starting to get to that middle ground where it isn’t quite spring yet and winter still has it’s moments. I really like sweaters in general, but especially on those days where it may be a bit chilly when you leave in the morning, but warms up as the day goes on. I’ve been loving this particular sweater as it includes one of my intentions for this year and is the perfect warmth/lightness ratio.

Of course, we cannot forget the new slipper socks that I’ve fallen in love with. The coziest slippers I’ve worn (aside from my Uggs), these have been pretty much on my feet during the day when we are in the apartment. I can’t find the exact pair that I have, but THESE cabin socks are also a really good option!

IMG_9585I also picked up a new handbag of sorts. I’ll be talking about this more in my travel favorites, but I’ve been eyeing a new backpack/handbag for our little short travels. I wanted something that felt more…not diaper bag and all of my nicer bags are packed away in a shipping container with the rest of our household goods. Enter this Michael Kors backpack. It’s been a back/shoulder saver and I really love it!

Multi Media (Music/TV/Podcasts/Movies):

IMG_6705.PNGMusic is such an important part of our days and lives. I use it to calm down, to get pepped up, to have dance parties with our boys. We listen to just about anything, although lately I’ve been gravitating to Alternative and Classical. I’ve been really loving listening to Charlie Cunningham of late. Something about his music is just really calming and comforting right now. I’ve also been loving Billie Ellish, The 1975, and Imaginary Future. If you know of any good Alternative artists, please comment them down below because I would love for some new music to listen to!
IMG_6706As for TV, I quite honestly don’t even know what my favorite is anymore. In January A Discovery of Witches came out on Sundance Now and Shudder and I binged those 8 episodes about 3 times before we left the states. I am OBSESSED with the trilogy and am equally OBSESSED with the TV Show. It was really well done in terms of Book to TV adaptations. They are going to be doing a series 2 and 3, so I’m looking forward to those as well as to getting the first one on DVD whenever that can happen.

The only movies we’ve watched lately are animated ones on Netflix for the boys and with those I can’t think of one truly memorable one…

Books:

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I’ve decided to make books it’s own category because reading is such a big part of me and who I am. I didn’t just want to lump it in with something else. So, it gets its own time JLet’s see, I’ve done a lot of reading over the past couple of months, but a few standout favorites are Us Against You by Frederik Backman, Once Upon A River by Diane Setterfield, and Educated by Tara Westover. I also really enjoyed An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekannen. I’m looking forward to the reading plans I have for the next few months, more non fiction and memoirs alongside my standard adult fiction and mystery/thriller selections.

Food/Drink:

Let me start by saying the food here is absolutely delicious. I don’t think I’ve had something that was bad yet! I’m not going to touch on all of the food that I’ve been eating (stay tuned for the potential of a later post), but rather talk about some of the snacks that I’ve really liked over the past few months. This is going to probably be the most unhealthiest couple paragraphs you will ever read from me, but I figured why not share the yummy stuff.

First off, for travel I LOVE Kind Bars. These are healthy, filling options and even my picky toddler will eat a bar or two. IMG_6707.jpgOnce we got here, we feasted on the local candy options- which have been plentiful. I’ve been loving the Milka Oreo Bars, and the Cadbury chocolate eggs. We also found a chocolate mint filled stick, Choceur Mint Deluxe Chocolate Sticks, that we’ve absolutely loved.

As for drinks, we are just going to keep up the unhealthy options and I am going to talk about a soda. Now, I try to only drink soda a couple times a month, but I’ve had this particular soda a couple of times already and have loved it! I still love my regular Coca-Cola, but this one is just as good. It’s a mix soda that goes by many names, Mezzo Mix, Spezzi, Cola mix just to name a few. It’s basically Coca Cola mixed with Orange Fanta (or rather just Orange Soda) and it is delicious.

Now that all that crap food talk is over…

Beauty:

I don’t know if I will always have a beauty category because, let’s be real for a minute, beauty is only partially my thing. I know enough to put myself together and to keep my skin clear and not much more than that. I’m also forever behind the curve so there’s that too. My favorite this month is the perfect example of that…I’ve been loving the Too Faced Chocolate Bar eye shadow palette. It has the perfect amount of colors and the shadows are the creamiest. There have only been maybe one or two shadows that I’ve had an issue with in the palette, so I’m pretty pleased with it.

Other Random Bits:

I am going to share a couple of other travel and kid related favorites here in the Other category. The first being car seat carriers for travel. These carriers saved both our car seats and our sanity of trying to transport car seats from the car to the check in gate to baggage claim back to the check in gate. The next item I am going to talk about are the Vtech laptop computers. These have been great for our boys to a)sit calmly for a little while at the same time and b) be learning in a developmentally appropriate way. They don’t get a lot of time on them, but they’ve been so great for our older son to work on mastering his words and letters.

IMG_9313.jpgAnd finally, since I can’t seem to get through a post without mentioning mugs, I picked up a couple mugs over the first quarter of the year, and I’ve been loving this floral find that I got in a little tea shop. It is the perfect size and has the perfect hand hold. The floral design is minimal enough for my tastes and perfect for the spring weather ahead (and the cold winter days we just dealt with).

That’s all I’ve got for my 1st Quarter Favorites! What are some of the things that you are loving and have been loving lately?

 

 

 

 

Hotel Living With Two Toddlers

Today I wanted to talk a little bit about something that I’ve referenced before, but felt deserved it’s own blog post and that is living in a hotel with two {very active} toddlers.

One of the things that we knew ahead of our move was that we were going to be in a hotel for quite some time. This wasn’t a breaker for us, just something that we tried to prepare for ahead of time as best we can. Knowledge is power and preparation is key for this type of situation. We weren’t really able to prepare the boys though and honestly we didn’t know what we were actually walking into with our room set up.

I’ll start by saying that we are lucky. At this point we actually have a little one bedroom/one bath apartment style set up, with separate living room and bedroom areas. This allows us to have our own “space” separate from everything else when we need a little breather (which does happen). I don’t want to trivialize what this has been like at this point, but I do feel like it is important to acknowledge that we have had a better option than some of the other families.

We have two very active, very loud little boys. They love to run, wrestle, and create as much noise as possible. We’ve never had a problem with this and have generally let them explore and create and play as they want to (realistically, within reason so no one gets hurt or anything). They thrive on being able to have the room to run in circles or sing a song or heck, even just play with their own toys.

We packed several of their toys in their luggage and have purchased a couple of items, but the vast majority of their toys are still in transit with the rest of our household goods and we wont get any of them until we get a house. So they get a little bored playing with the same games and toys (which I realize may make them sound incredibly spoiled which they are not, but boredom is a factor at times here).

I think the hardest thing for the boys has been that they can’t just play as they please. We are trying very hard to keep our noise level down as best we can (considering we are at the top floor of our little building) and while I know that at times kids will just kids and others will be understanding, I also want to be understanding towards them. I know that not everyone wants to hear the pitter patter (or elephant thuds) of feet across their ceiling during the day. When they will, I encourage the boys to sit and draw/color, read a book (sort of), or watch a movie/tv show that they like to watch. They do get to wander around and be active, just in a quieter way.

The biggest help has been getting out as much as we can. We try to leave the apartment 3-4 weekdays in the mornings, whether its just going to a café or shops or going to a play group, and then we are out and about on the weekends. I try to leave one day to have a cosy day at home just to break up all the out and about stuff and to give them a bit of a break. I find that by doing this, they aren’t as “hyped up” on the days that we are in the hotel apartment and are more likely to take it easy.

Our boys are quite resilient and aside from a few rough days here and there have been doing remarkably well, but it’s not all sunshine and daisies. They do fight (A LOT), we do run into issues of noise (although most of that is just us being extra aware that we share walls) and sleep and there have been a couple of moments that we have just needed a little 10 minute break. I’m not going to lie and say that I haven’t just wanted to scream at moments. It hasn’t been “easy”, but with everything that we are experiencing, the memories that we are making, and this opportunity that we’ve been given has made it all worthwhile.

Friday Morning Cups – A Two for One

IMG_9865.jpgI’ve been talking and listening to a lot of people lately (both in person and online) and I’ve been hearing two different things: 1) Complaints about location, living in a hotel, how small the area is, how spread apart everything is, etc. and 2) How positive I am about the whole situation, that they don’t see that a lot and how great that is. 

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Here’s the deal. Life in general is what you make of it. Situations arise, things happen, life doesn’t go according to all of your dreams, there will always be something. It happens to all of us. The difference from one person to another is what you make of it. How you handle the highs and lows. What outlook you choose to adopt. 

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Does living in a hotel apartment suck at times? Sure! Of course it does. Does it suck for my kids to be confined to one room at times? Yes. (We also have a pretty good set up, I’ve seen a couple of the other apartments in our building- doesn’t change the overall sentiment). 

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I could name all the things, but honestly it doesn’t matter. What matters is how I CHOOSE to handle this new situation. I am CHOOSING to look at the bright side. I am CHOOSING to look at the wealth of options and good things that we do have. There is SO MUCH good right now, that while the bad can be bad at times it doesn’t affect our overall positive outlook. ▫️

I fully believe that THIS, this seemingly mundane thing, has made all the difference in our whole move and transition. 

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What is your outlook? I challenge you to find the good. Focus on the good. Smile. 

We’ve all got one of those pictures. The one that just “didn’t work out”. The first picture is one of those pictures. I had Andrew who just wanted to be held, Colton who wanted to run wild and free, and me who just wanted one picture with both boys. The funny thing is I almost prefer this picture to our “perfect” picture (swipe to see the perfect one). This first picture shows the particular moment in time. The imperfections that makes our family perfect. Life is not perfect, our family is not perfect, but we are us and both of these pictures represent us. I look at this picture and I laugh. I see my children loved and happy just having a fun time. I laugh at my own “over it” look (and I do very much remember that feeling). Those memories are more important than having that perfect picture. Reality is always better than perfection.