I am not a huge fan of gambling, exorbitant drink prices for fancy cocktails, clubbing, and staying out past 10 PM, so on the surface Las Vegas isn't for me, but I have been twice, and I have enjoyed it both times although I am not clamoring to go a third time.
The first time I went was in the summer of 2010 with my parents and brother. We started and ended our Out West road trip to the Grand Canyon, Lake Powell, and Zion National Park from here. I was a couple of weeks shy of 21, but I was in awe of the intricate details of the casino hotels, and really just enjoyed wandering around and taking in the sights. We stayed at the Parisian and upon our arrival were upgraded to a suite. The only problem was that it only had one bed for four people, which began a running joke on the trip.
The second time I went was in the winter of 2011 with some high school friends. We went while we were on winter break from our college classes. My one friend's parents had a timeshare on the strip, The Polo Towers, and we decided it would be a nice hurrah to end our senior year of college. This time I was 21, and could fully access the casinos, bars, and clubs.
Vegas is a city where, in my opinion, you only need to stay for 2-3 days. After that, drive out to some of Vegas' close by destinations like the Grand Canyon, the Hoover Dam, and Zion National Park. Read on to see what happened in Vegas which will not stay in Vegas as I will give you a brief synopsis of things I did here.
“I was in the National Guard, and I was trained with sleep deprivation, and that doesn’t compare to how little sleep you get after having a baby.” I stared back at my coworker with fear and anxiety in my eyes. My pregnant belly and I were just passing by in the hallway and in return we got this unsolicited story about how little sleep I would be getting in the first year of my baby’s life. I let out a half-hearted chuckled and made some trite remark, “So I’ve heard. I am doing all the sleeping I can now.” Then, I walked away and probably sobbed a thousand tears.
As it turns out, a lot of people like to warn new moms-to-be how drastically their lives will change in the sleep department. Well-intentioned, I am sure, but as if I didn’t have enough (food) on my plate to begin with, I now decided my life mission was to learn all I could about baby sleep.
I bought books. I read sleep experts’ blogs. I acquired DVDs. I took classes. I downloaded music guaranteed to soothe a baby. I took detailed notes. I briefed and trained my husband like we were preparing for battle.
And it worked! Our son was born and immediately we began implementing what we learned. Sure, we had our fair share of exhausting days and even more exhausting nights, but I could not be more thankful for these sleep experts and all the wisdom they bestowed on us.
It became a joke in our household. Our son would have a slight hiccup in his sleeping, or his napping would be off. I would furiously scour the blogs and books, and say, “Well so-and-so says… or (insert sleep expert’s name here) says….” It only took one night of little to no sleep and my husband would be desperately begging to know, “What do the books say?”
The months ticked on, and as our son grew older, the bedtime routine grew shorter. One day, he grew out of his swaddle, and no longer was Mommy needed for those precious minutes of wrapping him snuggly up. Not long after, he learned to self-soothe, and no longer was Mommy needed to pick him back up and rock or bounce him back to sleep. Eventually, he stopped breastfeeding, and Mommy was no longer needed to hold and feed him goodnight.
Now at 18 months, he hands me a book, we read it, say our prayers, sing a song, and I can plop him right down in the crib. We are thrilled with how well the sleeping journey has gone.
But some nights I hold him just a bit longer. Read to him just a bit more. Sing to him just a bit extra. And then I put him down and walk out. I stare at the monitor, watching my baby squirm around as he slowly starts to drift off. Longingly, I crave to walk right back into that nursery and rock him to sleep.
The books and blogs, though, say nothing on this. There is no handbook on what a mom should do when her child no longer needs her to fall asleep. I glance back at my peaceful baby one more time. And on some nights, perhaps when the house is particularly quiet and the moonlight shines in through the window, I go back in, and I rock. And I’m okay with that.
San Francisco is an absolute pleasant city. A food lover's paradise. A cyclist's dream. A baseball enthusiast's heaven. It has delightful weather with little pockets of microclimates scattered about. I've been fortunate enough to go twice in a year. Once on a California road trip to see baseball stadiums and the other time for a wedding. I'll lump everything we did on both trips into one list. We flew into San Francisco, rented a car from the airport, and stayed at an Airbnb both times. The first time we stayed for 5 nights and about 4 1/2ish days. The second time we stayed for 2 nights and 2 days. I thought that was plenty of time to really see and do a lot. I hope you get a chance to go here one day!
To my childhood, high school, and college friends. To my new, old, near, and far friends. To my work friends. To my neighborhood friends. To the friends that came into my life for a little bit, served their purpose, and now are gone. To my friends who will be there forever. I am thankful for you.
To my friends, I care about your lives, your jobs, your kids, and all the little things that go on in your day.
We don’t get to see each other as much as we used to. We don’t even get to talk on the phone that often. And sometimes it takes a day to even respond to a text because of Mom Brain and how easily I get distracted now.
But I delight in your Instagram posts. I love seeing your travels and how much your kids are growing. I want you to continue posting.
I smile at the texts you send me. The one where you bring up an old story of something that happened back in the day or a simple picture of you living life. Keep sending them to me.
I relish in the rare phone calls where we can talk or Zoom and update each other on our lives and maybe just laugh as we reminisce about our high school and college days. As the precious minutes tick down, I wish we could talk for longer. Continue to call even if I can’t answer. One of the days, we will get it right.
I dance for joy when we get to see each other in person even if it is talking to each other from the porch 6 feet apart or a quick 20 minute chat because we are both just passing through. It will never be an inconvenience or a waste of time for me to see.
I squeal with delight when we get to do a friend’s trip maybe once every 5 years. The ones where we drink wine and talk for hours and laugh until our sides hurt. Let's never stop planning these even if it takes an act of God to align our schedules.
As life will have it, we grow older, move apart, and forge our own paths with our new families and friends. We get busy. Our kids and jobs demand our attention as they should. It sometimes seems as if our lives don’t have time for one another in it. Missed calls, unanswered texts, broken plans, conflicts in schedules, and distance can all seem like our lives are moving forward like two parallel lines. But the bonds we formed growing up will always exist. Our lives forever intertwined with one another.
Because something as simple as a jogged memory, a death of an old teacher, or needing some advice can send me right back to you, and it’s like we picked up right where we left off, easy, pure, and carefree.
My life has changed. Yours has as well. But I still care. And I always will. After all, you are my friend.
The City of Angels. LaLa Land. Hollywood. Whatever you want to call it, welcome to Los Angeles, the land of fame excess. Whoa, am I gonna fit in? No, probably not but whatever.
I've been to LA three times not because I particularly like it. The traffic. The glam. The cavalier attitudes. The super health consciousness. I'm being stereotypical here, but it's too much. Not for me. No, I've been three times because I love Ellen (although what's going on with her lately? Someone fill me in.) and baseball. I also don't mind the sun, beach, and running around chasing celebrities.
I'm going to list what we did on all three trips and if you ever go maybe it's something you can do. Enjoy!
Celebrity Match Up
Can you guess if the celebrity is a real celeb or fake? Sorry my camera was so blurry at times. This was 2009. Click on the picture to see the name.
I am a working mom. I teach. I coach. I write. I read. My “me” time is sacred. It’s my opportunity to get things done without a child hanging on to me, which I love by the way, but just not for the full day. When my child naps for a long time, the angels sing a chorus of Hallelujah, and I head right to my desk to dive into a blog or straight to the couch to dig into a book. Or maybe I sleep. Or watch Netflix. Or clean. Whatever. I just want the opportunity to have those options. But before I dive into what I did to blockade car sleep let's look at why I did the insane things I did.
When my son was around 4-5 months old, and we were really perfecting those nap schedules, I really valued putting him to sleep in his crib or pack n play. Why? Because his long naps allowed him to get the restorative sleep that he needed and me to have some “me time.” Moms, we know how important “me time” is. It’s like gold, and I wasn’t going to let a car nap take away my coveted time to myself.
So what happens when your baby falls asleep in the car on your fifteen minute drive home? That catnap, even if it is only 5 minutes long, kills the sleep drive. That car nap sends signals to the brain: Hey, I am not sleepy anymore. That nap satisfied me. Let’s play! Try to put your child to bed after a catnap, and he won’t have it. He’s ready to go! Then, you’re left trying to chase naps all day. It’s exhausting. Unless you want to drive around for an hour and half, so your baby can get his full nap, follow these ways to prevent the dreaded car naps.
My last car had a keyless start, so I would rattle my keys incessantly anytime I saw my son start to drift off. One hand was safely on the wheel and the other shook those keys like my life depended on it. Henry’s head would snap right back up every time. Did I feel cruel? A little. But not enough to warrant me to stop. After all, I was doing this for him, so he could have a nice long nap that left him well-rested and happy. My rapacious rattling had nothing to do with my desire to lie down and read a book. When I got a new car and had to put my keys in the ignition, I banged my keychain against the dashboard as best I could. Not as effective, but it still worked. I highly suggest purchasing one of those jingle bells and keeping it on hand in the car. Want to take it up a notch? Belt Jingle Bells at the top of your lungs until you get home, and then you can sing Silent Night as you creep out of the nursery to enjoy some peace and quiet for a couple hours. 3. Talk in Whale
Yes, I am talking about Whale as in the whale speech in Finding Nemo. Before discovering Whale, I would narrate everything that was happening out loud to keep Henry awake. Yet, adding in the dialect of an orca spices things up and piques Henry’s curiosity, so he’s more apt to hang on to witness Mommy’s newfound craziness. To really get into the role, move your body back and forth like you actually believe you are a whale. Mommy is making a right turn [bob body the right]. The car stops at the red light. Now it turns green and here we go. Vroom Vroom [Contort your body as if you are emerging out of the water to blow water out of your blowhole]. Now we are home, home, home. Time to sleep. You’re whale-come. 4. Activate Scream Mode
This one is very similar to talking in whale, but instead of narrating everything in Fish, you will recount all details of what you’re doing by screaming. To extend this practice, you can see how loud you can scream your child’s name. For example, my son’s head would slowly drop. “HENNNNNNRRRYYYYYYY!” He would snap back up. A short time later, his eyes would grow heavy and start to close. “HENNNNNNRRRRY!” Even louder that time. This headache inducing practice continues until you arrive home, and your child goes down for a nice, long nap, and Mama can kiss that headache goodbye as she kicks her feet up on the couch.
5. Roll Down the Windows
I have a saying, “When Henry’s eyes are no longer brown. It’s time to roll the windows down.” Super cheesy but effective. As soon as those eyelids become heavy, I roll that window all the way down and let the air and noises flood into the car. Henry’s aroused from his short-lived slumber. This strategy works even better when it’s raining, and those droplets can pelt Henry on the face. Then we arrive home and it’s to the windoooowwws to the beds. The sweat stops running down my head. All the mamas can now call their friends.
I hope these tips help!
Discovered by the Germans in 1904, they named it San Diego, which of course in German means a whale's vagina. Never mind, I was just trying to impress you.
The setting for the comedy Anchorman, San Diego is a vibrant city on the Pacific coast of California. Full of history, museums, gardens, a world famous zoo, and a naval fleet, people here flock here for all the activities and stay for the idealyc weather. In the heart of summer, it can still be 72 degrees and perfectly sunny.
I had the fortunate pleasure of going to San Diego in the summer of 2016. I have family living in Alpine, a city right outside of San Diego, and we got to stay with them in their beautiful house with views of the valley below. Even though I would have been perfectly content staying at their house the whole time soaking up the rays by the pool and staring out over the hill, I am going to list what we did during the trip and also provide other suggestions/recommendations from a resident of the area, my mother's cousin (my cousin once removed), so she has first hand knowledge of what to do if you want to be a tourist or go off the beaten path.
Things We Did
This small, quaint national park is located in northern Ohio, not too far from Cleveland. We won't fault it for that (haha Cleveland joke). Upon arriving at the main area of Boston Mill Village, it's like you stepped back in time. Old-fashioned homes and stores, a Towpath for bikes, and a railroad station. We had limited time in the park, but we made the most of it.
Zion National Park is located in southwest Utah surrounded by a playground of National Parks: Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Arches, and Capital Reef. Zion is known for its winding rivers, lush trails, emerald pools, flowing waterfalls, hanging gardens, harrowing hikes, and majestic slot canyons. We spent all of our time in Zion Canyon, the most popular place to begin hikes. Our trip here is remembered for what we saw and sadly for what we didn't see. We made a fatal mistake, so make sure you continue reading to find out what you can't miss when you go here.
My memory at this park isn't as clear as some of the other parks and, unfortunately, I didn't document as well as I did with my other trips, but I will try my best to remember.
This California park is stellar. Absolutely stellar. It has views, heights, domes, waterfalls, sequoia trees, wildlife, and so much more. I can't do the beauty here justice, so if you have to pick a park to go to, choose here. If you can afford it, I would splurge and stay in Yosemite Valley at either The Ahwahnee (formerly known as The Majestic Yosemite Hotel), Yosemite Valley Lodge, or Wawona Hotel. The Valley also has more primitive lodging in Curry Village. Staying in the Valley will allow you so much easy access to all the popular spots. The Valley has a shuttle that will take you to many popular spots throughout the Valley. We utilized it throughout the whole day. Put Yosemite on your bucket list today!