Monday, September 15, 2014

Get out there! 5 Cool Things About Travel With Kids.

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Our favorite hotels are the ones with outdoor firepits.

As we prepare for our #FlecksGoBig roadtrip this month, where we will be searching the South-eastern United States for the world's largest roadside attractions, I thought I'd rerun this post about family travel that originally appeared on in 2014. Also, my friend Tsh and her crew are truly going BIG with family travel starting today. Head over to The Art of Simple Travel to wish them bon voayge as they head around the world!

From October 2013:
What a month! Earlier we were in California and today I'm saying hello there from gorgeous South Carolina! We've been on airplanes and behind the wheel on the open road in October and it has been spectacular.

My family and I are on the road this week so that I can attend Allume and on the way home we will be exploring some parts of the country we don't often get to see. We're turning this week into a mini family road trip, hopefully one that will lead to longer journeys next year and beyond.

So, since I'm blogging from the road this week, I thought it might be kind of fun to share 5 cool things about traveling with kids.

 West coast to east coast - this kiddo is amazing to travel with!

5 Cool Things about Travel with Kids

1. Traveling with your kids lets you see them in a whole new light. Earlier this month I was so impressed with the way my eleven year old carried herself and the ease with which she moves through the world (certainly more poised than I was as an eleven year old) and I'm not sure I would have known that about her if I didn't have a chance to see it in action.

It was neat to see her in an environment we aren't normally in and I feel like I know her a little better than I did before our trip.

2. Travel allows your kids to see you in a new light. By the same token, I think it is good for the family dynamic for the kids to see mom and dad outside of their normal environment and routine.

Who knew that dad had such varied taste in road trip music or that mom was so good with a map? I don't know about you, but travel makes me happy and when I'm happy I'm more light hearted and laid back and even silly. It is good for my kids to see me like that.

3. See new things ... through your child's eyes. On the first leg of our journey yesterday we made a lot of stops and saw some things that I'm not sure we would have taken the time to really observe if the kids weren't with us.

From sunrises and sunsets to the adventure of driving through tunnels (far from mundane to a seven year old!) to a slightly different selection at the grocery store to the cool shaped shampoo bottles in our hotel, our kids have taken notice of items that their dad and I might have simply overlooked if we didn't have their kids' eye view to shape our vision.

4. Travel helps you relax the rules. I don't know about in your family, but in my family it is nice to travel and relax the normal rules just a little bit. Bedtimes are later, we might watch a bit more TV in the hotel, and hey, go ahead and have two desserts, it's okay!

We left bright and early yesterday morning and my middle two thought it was hysterical that I was letting them leave the house wearing their pajamas.

Part of the point of travel is to take a break from normal, so we leave some of our regular rules at home. I think this change in the routine is good for all of us.

 So glad this handsome fella is my life's travel companion.

5. One of the best ways to learn is by doing and seeing. I have really loved all of our travels this month, especially for my oldest daughter and I as the two of us have been from one side of the country to the other in the past three weeks. As she works her way through Little Passports USA and the books she's been reading in school, how wonderful to actually visit some of the places she's learned about and see them, experience them, and make them more than just a word on a page or a dot on a map.

We have a map of the world shower curtain in our bathroom which my middle two love looking at, pointing out all of the places and the funny sounding names. What a cool gift it has been this week to take them to some of those oddly shaped states and places on the map.

I know there can be some challenges to travel with kids, of course, but I think the good things, the many benefits from the experience, far outweigh the pitfalls.

What are some of your favorite things about traveling with kids?

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Brave, honest August: because this is where I write it down.

Last month I took some risks here on the blog. After a relatively quiet summer, I made a decision to write more openly and honestly about depression and motherhood than I have in the past.


That's not the whole story.

The whole story is that I used to write pretty bravely and openly about depression on a regular basis, and then this audience grew. And I clammed up.

Don't get me wrong, I'm happy to have the company here. But once my personal blogging space here wasn't my secret anymore, once I became known as something in addition to being a parenting blogger or for my web content writing on crafts and knitting and art projects ... once I started taking a peek (big mistakes) at the analytics for this site and it hit me just how many of you were reading my words ... well, all of that exposure made me feel a little shy. I started to regret being so open.

I stopped writing about the more painful things, the things that I'd rather just not talk about.

But safe, soulless writing isn't what I'm all about here. I can't pretend to live another life but this. I can't pretend these words aren't within me. This is the place to dance, to weep, to own my life.

This is where I write it down.

Some posts that I have had sitting in draft for a long time finally found the light of day in August. It felt good not to keep them waiting any longer.

Why these words?
Why now?

One reason is that I simply wanted to make a difference. If what I had to say reached one mom, if one person out there saw a little bit of light in my writing, then I want to be brave enough to share. I think about those whose words I would cling to one the really bad days and I wanted to give back. I wanted to give someone else something to cling to.

And sometimes I write because I just need to be really, really honest with myself.
Sometimes I need a good, hard look in the mirror - a deep acknowledgment of who I really am and where I have come from.

It feels good to stop pretending that everything is always okay. It feels good to say, "this happened, this hurt me, and that's my reality."

Writing here gives me that gift.

I hope that my writing gives you something, too. Especially if you find yourself in a place where you really need to know that someone else is familiar with your story, someone else has walked that path.

Brave, Honest August

On What Depression Steals, Parenting, and Life in the River 

If I reject the changes that made me sadder, broke me down and devastated me then I am also rejecting the changes that made me stronger, the wisdom I've gained, and the sweetness of all my personal victories.

Experiences change us.
Like Heraclitus' philosophical river, we are never the same person twice.

Starting Over

Callousness and flaws
that have been gently worked out,
grace poured over,
until there is a
where I once was

Letters to Myself: Believe It.

What if I told you that one day,

 a day that will come sooner than you think, 

you'll feel yourself smiling and realizing that you don't even know why your lips have curved or how long your face has been tilted toward the sun, 

but you are a happy woman.

 But August wasn't all seriousness and heavy weights lifted ...

August was also:

Where to next? I don't exactly know. I know I have more to say about motherhood and depression. I know I have some words in my heart about marriage and depression, too. When? How? That I'm not certain of.

For now, I'm thankful for August and for all of you who met me here and who read and who give me a reason to write it all down - the silly, the serious, the uncertain.

 A little laughter, a little pain, a little pulling back the curtain. That was my brave, honest August.