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Road Trips with Young Kids Jul 15

I’m going to continue to ignore the half dozen draft posts that have been staring at me for months. Daydreaming about fiction books can wait, because lately I’ve been not just dreaming, but planning an east coast road trip for our family of four.

We are not strangers to road trips with kids. We took a similar trip to the one we’re about to embark on when our oldest was just 22 months old. The youngest took her first 8 hour car trip at 14 months, and has repeated it every year since. Some say we’re crazy, but we enjoy the freedom traveling in our own car gives us.

My daughters are now 6.5 and 3.75 years old, and this might be the hardest age to plan a trip for. Well, other than infancy when feeding and changing occurs every two hours or all hell breaks loose.

Both girls are potty trained. Neither have life threatening allergies (that we’ve discovered). So why is this the hardest age?

Because the little one copies the big one, and the big one asks, even on trips around town, “Are we there yet?”

So here are 4 ways that I hope to avoid hearing “Are we there yet?” on our next trip.

    1. Planned stops. As an adult or even a teen, you can just drive until you absolutely must use the restroom and then get right back on the road. With young kids, this can be a recipe for disaster. Their bladder control is just not that good. So I have planned stops in active areas ever 2 hours throughout the trip. Why search for active areas and exits? Clean bathrooms. If any of you have ever had young kids refuse to use a public toilet before, you understand how crucial clean bathrooms are to a happy trip.
    2. DVD player. I know there are all kinds of studies calling screen time the devil, but it helps the sections of the trips fly by for kids. I’ve picked a surprise new movie, they picked a new movie, and we’ll pack 3-4 favorites to take with us as well.
    3. *NEW* Map reading skills. Now that the oldest can read and has studied basic geography, we’ve spent a lot of time this summer talking about the map and our route. The girls both know all the states we’re going to, the order we’re visiting them in, and where they are located on the map. Where are we? Are we there yet? Let’s check the map!
    4. *NEW* Surprise toys. In the past, I have allowed the girls to pick whatever toys they want as long as it fits in a certain bag or bin. This trip, since our only real downtime is in the car, I’m packing for them. Colored pencils and paper, Crayola Wonder markers and paper, school workbooks, Busy Books which include a play mat and mini figures to play with, a soccer ball for exercise at our planned stops, and – the biggest surprise for them – a new LeapPad (the youngest broke ours over a year ago) and the use of my old Nintendo DS. They will be allowed to top off the bag with their comfort items – blankets, stuffed animals, iPods, and one item of their choosing.

Have you tried any of these before? Were they successful? What have you done successfully on a road trip? What has been an epic fail?

Category: Alyson, Emma, travel  | Leave a Comment
What is my “Brand”? Apr 12

Since the moment I decided I wanted a blog, everyone has asked me about branding. What’s my brand? What will my blog be about? Who am I writing for? What will make my blog unique?

I never had an answer to those questions. Or, if I did, it was very vague. 

I’ve been blogging for five years now. Inconsistently, randomly, and not always valuably, to myself or the world. But sometimes you need an outlet to get something off your chest, or be uncharacteristically unreasonable and illogical.

I’ve done all those things. I want to continue to do all those things because they’re important to my mental state. But it needs direction. It needs a reason for me to come back and create new content regularly. 

So, let’s dream together. 

My husband and I have had some incredible traveling opportunities in the 14 years we’ve been together, and it’s time to share. Not randomly like in the past, but purposefully. I’d like to start with a more recent trip. Prague? Nassau? Or one of many reviews I could do of Disney World resorts?

Do those seem too far out of reach at the moment? I’m an avid fiction reader, what is your favorite book world to escape into? I have several must-read authors and will be reviewing their books, and I’d love to add new authors to my list. 

What should we dream about first?


Category: General  | Leave a Comment
Why I Prefer the Written Word Mar 02

The more I am required to interact with other adults and children, the more I find myself responding to things with, “I’ll email you.” Or, “Shoot me an email.” 

I have never been a spontaneous or instantaneous person. Everything I do, say, or write has been analyzed for as long as the situation will allow. The longer I am allowed to analyze and decide, the more confident I am in my choice of words or actions. 

By choosing the written word, I allow myself the maximum time to formulate a response. 

Does anyone else need this processing time? Or are most people able to interact more spontaneously? Has anyone taught them self to be more confident in their spontaneous interactions?

Category: General  | Leave a Comment
An Attempt to Describe Jan 05

This might be the most jumbled post I’ve ever written, and this is only the first sentence.

I posted a couple days ago about having my Mind Blown by an image in my FB feed. An image that made me want to write ALL THE THINGS.

But I can’t. Because the noise in my head is too great.

And it’s not currently the noise of doubt or failure, but the noise created by the rest of life.

Only another parent can comprehend the love I have for my kids. I have an awesome husband who took off winter break with the kids and we’ve had some great fun.

But the noise distracts me from immersing myself in reading and writing. And most of me feels bad about it. These are fantastic times in all of our lives, and there’s a constant distraction in my brain. A constant buzz to fall into another world. Itching to create until all the creative things have been created.

How do you balance all your loves? And then how do you balance all your loves with the daily minutiae?

Category: Writing  | Leave a Comment
Mind Blown Jan 03


This image came across my Facebook feed on New Year’s Eve and blew my mind. At one page a day, I could complete a novel in one year. I got so excited! And then froze. Do I start from scratch? Do I push forward on one of my many ramblings? Do I just resolve to write in all the genres this year in preparation for THE PUSH (whatever that may be) next year? Always, always the biggest obstacle we have to overcome is ourselves, and this is a classic example. Too many options, the illusion of not enough time, the fear of failure. It all adds up to projects that remain incomplete.

Have you ever had to push through? How did you make the necessary choices?

Category: Writing  | Leave a Comment
Countdown to Christmas Dec 03

Last year I put together a 24 Days of Christmas Togetherness list of activities to help the kids and I celebrate the season. With just 27-ish days between Thanksgiving and Christmas again this year, I’m going to do the activities again and add a few more to fill the season with holiday cheer. Here is this year’s revised list!
1. Put up and decorate the Christmas tree.
2. Watch a Christmas movie. (What’s your favorite??)
3. Take a drive and look at Christmas lights.
4. Take a selfie
5. Bake Christmas cookies (possibly gingerbread people)
6. Sing and dance to Christmas songs (I’m thinking this will happen several times ;))
7. Go for a nature walk. This won’t be nearly as pretty in central Florida as it would be in, oh, say, the Smoky Mountains, but we’re going anyway
8. Have a fire in the fire pit.
9. Buy and wrap a present for Daddy
10. Enjoy delicious holiday beverages from Starbucks. Or Dunkin Donuts. We love all things with a pound of sugar and caffeine.
11. Take an informal family photo
12. Make a foam wreath and stockings as interior decorations
13. Check out the tree and lights at Cranes Roost Park
14. Go to Disney and see the dancing lights at Hollywood Studios
15. Make hot cocoa. And not the instant kind.

How do you celebrate the holidays? Does your family have a favorite activity that I can add to our list?

Category: holiday  | Leave a Comment
On Writing Sep 26

The written word fascinates me. I’m a voracious, though often limited, reader. This has led me to create many pages of my own fiction writing that have never seen the light of day. I read them, and occasionally add to them, and they just sit on my computer’s hard drive gathering virtual dust.

A few months ago I kept seeing someone asking for writing help. Non-fiction blog posts. Paid. Extra money sounded good (and turned into a blessing) and I needed something to do that was on an adult level rather than the under age 5 level. So I gave it a try. And it was good.

But some days, despite my love for words and need for income, I find it difficult to write. I sit at my computer and stare at a blank screen. Or I’ll open WordPress on my iPhone with the intention of posting here and stare at a blank screen. And then I walk away and ignore one of the things I love, though usually in favor of another.

My husband shared a post with me a few days ago that hit the nail on the head when it comes to the difficulties of writing. How I Trick Myself Into Writing. I do SO MANY of those things, and have discovered that I can be very picky about my writing environment as well as my reading material.

I need a quiet environment and to be alone. Until I find the groove, even the cat yawning is a distraction.

But I have two young kids. And a husband who works from home. There is no quiet and alone.

So how else, in addition to the aforementioned post, can I trick myself into writing? How do you convince yourself to write?

Category: General  | Leave a Comment
Unnatural Aug 30

It feels unnatural to come to this space, to write.

Not that I haven’t written. I’ve been working from home, writing mostly marketing copy for a social media advising company. It has really helped maintain a more adult vocabulary and interpersonal interaction way better than my usual stay at home mom activities. It is also helping to fill the income gap left when my husband accepted a lower paying job at a company where the owners and operators actually have souls and feelings, as opposed to his former employers who just wanted money, however they could get it, in order to maintain their cushy lifestyle.

Slowly, writing has brought me more into “true” adulthood. It filled the tiny gaps brought on by revisiting childhood with my own kids, just as I had begun to make forward progress into adulthood prior to their birth.

But there’s something else that feels unnatural, and leaves gaps of varying sizes.

It’s knowing that my baby, my first baby, the child who made me a mother, has begun to grow wings and fly.

She just finished her third week as a kindergartener. And, while it may be becoming routine, it is really no easier now than it was that first day. At least for me. She’s flourishing.

The time I have with her to teach and play is minimal, and always interrupted by the need to maintain our loose schedule for the sanity of all of us.

The time we have to work through her feelings has also diminished, but it’s obvious she has learned how to juggle them. It’s not perfect yet, and probably never will be, but she doesn’t need to lean anymore. She can stand on her own until she hits a bump that needs guidance. She is slowly conquering her emotions and anxiety.

And increasing mine. Anxiety and I are old “friends,” I’ve mastered those bumps. But the emotions? I’ve never been an outwardly emotional person, I tend to write out or bury my feelings, but there is so much more tangible emotion watching my babies grow.

Is this a quirk unique to me? Or is this something that mothers go through?

Category: General  | One Comment
UBP14 Apr 06

Well, I’m late to the party. Again. And I’m totally unprepared for visitors. Again. But that hasn’t stopped me yet!

My name is Erin and I’m a SAHM to two girls, ages 5 and 2.5. We’re Disney fanatics and I’m always dreaming of travel. We live not far from the mouse house and are getting in all the visits we can before the weather hits boiling. Spring and fall are definitely our busiest times of the year.

Oh, I’m sorry, I don’t have any drinks or snacks out. Please, help yourself to the fridge and if you finish something, please make a note on the whiteboard so I can replenish.

When I’m not taking care of the girls or trying to keep the house vaguely clean, I love to read and play PC games. World of Warcraft and Star Wars: The Old Republic are my faves right now. Sometimes I’m on Steam, too, but that’s pretty rare. If I have any free time after reading and games, I also crochet and blog. 😉

Probably the most important thing to note about me blog-wise is that I mostly blog from my iPhone, and since I’m still learning, I don’t often include pictures or links. If anyone has tips on how to do this easily, please share! One day, I’d like to skip that particular disclaimer and surprise people with the information that it was all done on a mobile device! 😀

So, I have a question for all you visitors:
What’s your favorite part of the UBP?

Mine is watching all the Twitter accounts come alive with new conversation and seeing the renewed interest in blogging from those of us who have been too distracted to do it (myself included).

Well, I was going to link to some of my recent posts, but somehow I broke that. I’ll work on a separate post over the next few days to make up for it!

Happy UBP14 everyone!

5QF is back!!! Mar 20

After a very long hiatus, Mama M has brought back 5 Question Friday! I’m so excited! These random questions really help me keep the dreaming part of my blog name alive. 😉

Here’s this week’s questions and my answers:

1. If I had 5 minutes alone with Mother Nature I would tell her?
I know Florida is a semi-tropical climate, but can we PLEASE have snow Christmas through New Year’s and real spring and fall before we melt all summer?

2. If you could eat only one thing for a whole week what would it be?
This week it would be Chipotle burrito bowls. Last week it would have been Thai food. And I’ll never turn down Mac n cheese.

3. What is your favorite season and why?
Fall. Hands down, no contest. The weather, the food, the holidays… And my youngest’s birthday!

4. Do you have a meal that you are AMAZING at making? If so, share the recipe!
Ummm… I love to cook and I’m good at it. So it’s hard for me to pick something. My husband’s favorite thing I make is meatloaf, so I’ll ramble about that for a minute.

I don’t measure when I cook, so I apologize for the lack of real instruction. First, melt a tablespoon or so of butter in a sauté pan over med-low heat. When it starts to get foamy, toss in a small to medium sweet onion, diced. Salt it liberally and add 2 dried bay leaves. While that starts to sweat, mince or paste 2-4 cloves of garlic depending on size and pungency. When onions are totally translucent but not brown, add garlic to pan. Keep cooking and stirring until onions and garlic start to take on a golden color. When you start to see gold, grab your bottle of ketchup. Pour enough into the pan to create a cup or a little more of “sauce.” Turn off the heat, stir, and allow to come to room temperature.

Once sauce is cool, get your ground meat. I use ground turkey, but have also done beef and beef/pork. Mix in enough sauce so that you can smell it when it’s combined with the meat. Often, there is sauce left over. Add about 1/2 cup of Panko bread crumbs to meat and sauce mixture. You need enough so that it keeps the form of a ball or loaf as you stir it in the bowl. Then dump it in a shallow baking fish, shape slightly and put it in the oven. 40 minutes at 350 degrees works for me with ground turkey. When time is up, let rest 10 minutes, slice and serve.

If you had sauce left over, you can make a great side sauce by adding 1-2 tablespoons each of brown sugar and your favorite hot sauce depending on how much sauce you had left ad how sweet/hot you want it.

5. What has changed in your life since the last 5QF? (8/2/13 was the last one! Wow…over 6 months!)
My oldest is in VPK this year and she’s become such a KID rather than my baby. Bittersweet. And my youngest, who can be a terror, is now so much fun and really blossoming in her Mom’s Morning Out program at the school big sister attends. It’s been awesome seeing them in the same school together, and I’ll miss it when big sister moves on to elementary school in the fall.

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