What I learned during my travels with a toddler

Olá! I recently got back from a trip to the Azores with my husband and his family. Three weeks of vacation on a beautiful, lush island. Sounds great, right? It pretty much was, but there was one downside; the getting there with a very active toddler. We live on the West coast and the Portuguese islands are in the middle of the Atlantic. It’s usually an 11 hour direct flight, but add in airport waits and a layover, and by the time you leave the house and get picked up at your destination, it’s already been 20 hours. And you have a toddler.

I had never done much traveling with Gabriel (our little) prior to this vacation, except for a weekend at a beach house 2 hours away, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. All I knew was that I was taking a child who didn’t much care for the carseat, hated sitting still, and only took 45-90 min naps, on an experimental adventure.

The trek? Two hour drive to the airport (3 hours before he usually wakes up), two and half hours in the airport before we board, a 5.5 hour flight to Boston, a 4.5 hour layover, followed by a 4.5 hour flight to our destination.

So how was it? Actually, not horrible! I was surprised about how smooth it actually went.

So what did I learn?

toddler traveling

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20 Ways to get into the holiday spirit

Christmas can a happy time for many, but sometimes it can be hard to get into the happy holiday mood. Amidst cheery songs, sparkly lights, and sugary treats, sometimes it can be hard to get into the holiday spirit.

I suppose in order to “get into the holiday spirit” you need to figure out what holiday spirit means to you. To me, it means the birth of my savior, spending time with family and friends, and giving to others. Even if you don’t have a religious reason to celebrate the holidays, giving to others and spending time with family and friends can be an important part of celebrating this time of year. I think it is a great time of the year to bless others and be thankful for all that you have.

In a nutshell, what puts me in the holiday spirit? Reacquainting myself with the real reason for Christmas, connecting with others, and giving.

And please, if you are depressed and having thoughts about harming yourself or others, please get help. The holidays can be a tough time for many and you are not alone.

20 ways to get into the christmas spirit

  1. Take a walk or drive down your local Christmas Tree Lane
  2. Drink hot apple cider or hot cocoa and listen to Christmas music
  3. Watch Christmas movies
  4. Volunteer at a food bank or shelter
  5. Attend church service
  6. Attend local holiday plays or musical events
  7. Read about the birth of Jesus
  8. Read Christmas stories
  9. Host a holiday party with friends and family
  10. Volunteer to wrap donated presents
  11. Bake goodies for your neighbors, friends, or family
  12. “Adopt” a family or child to buy presents for
  13. Jingle” or “Elf” your neighbors
  14. Perform random acts of kindness
  15. Do Christmas crafts
  16. Gather a caroling group to sing at retirement homes
  17. Pay for the person behind you in the drive thru or at the cash register
  18. Make a list of what you are thankful for
  19. Wish everyone you meet a happy holiday or tell them “merry Christmas”
  20. Send family and friends Christmas cards

What do you do to get in the Christmas spirit?







Grocery Savings Challenge: Week 2

I’m actually finding grocery shopping a little more fun when I have challenged myself to eat good and healthy meals on a smaller budget. This week was a little harder, though, because I purchased splurge items for a Valentine’s Day dinner and dessert, and we were also out of expensive items like cheese, olive oil, and almond butter.

The Stores and their Deals
The Meal Plan
The Grocery List
The Final Cost

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5 Tips to Keep Pinterest Awesome

Or, as I was tempted to title this post “how not to bug the crap out of anyone wanting to follow you or repin your items,” but I thought that was a bit harsh and probably just stems from my hormonal mood swings.

I love Pinterest and like many fans, I admit to spending way to much time on there. For those who don’t know what this site is, it’s kind of a virtual bulletin board/inspiration board where lots and lots of people come together and just post anything they may like – ideas, projects, recipes, colors, etc. As I’ve heard it said before, it’s a place to wish for things you will never have and plan for things you will never do.

I’m not a perfect Pinterest user, nor an expert, but there are a few things I attempt to try and do.  And sometimes when you first start, it is hard to know exactly what to do.

1. Clip images from the correct source: This is my biggest pet peeve on Pinterest. I once spent an hour scouring over a blog completely in French to find the exact blog post someone pinned an item from (I can’t even remember what it was). If you are going to pin something, do it from the original blog post, not from the blog itself. If you have been looking at a blog from start to finish and find something you want to pin, click on the blog post and pin from there. You will save people the trouble of having to look at the blog from start to finish as well. Same goes for Google Reader – don’t pin from there because anyone following the pin will just be taken to a blank Google Reader page.

2. Feel free NOT to pin every. single. item. from one source: My mom is the worst at this; we all love the “Hey Girl” Ryan for craftsters, but there’s not a need to post 20 of them a day.

3. Be sensitive to  handmade sellers when you post their items for sale under “DIY:” I would hate to find that one of my items on Etsy has been a popular pin with the caption “OMG, so easy to make and for way cheaper!” And yes, I have seen this. If you want to post an Etsy pin, try and categorize it as “inspiration” rather than “I would never buy this, but I can make it.”

4. Make sure the pin captions are relevant and accurate: If you repin an item, make sure the caption is correct. If there is no recipe for the pin, don’t have the caption “easy breakfast recipe.” If you repin an item that says something personal, like “I have this skirt in 3 colors!” make sure you actually have the skirt in 3 colors. Sometimes people will ask for opinions and details on items they think you know about. If the personal caption doesn’t apply to you, then change it! This seems like a no brainer, but I see it time and time again.

5. Repinning is awesome, but make sure to add some new material to the bunch as well: You ever see the same pin over and over again? Nothing is necessarily wrong with that, but it’s important people add original pins and new material or Pinterest could become stagnant. In order to avoid over-repinning, I usually “like” more than I repin (which unfortunately has me with over 1500 pins that I have liked).

Anyone else have any tips for using Pinterest?