LASTING VACATION MEMORIES

MAKING VACATION MEMORIES LAST                by Barbi Walker~Walsh

Summer is coming to a close and as school ramps up those sweet, fun memories of your hard earned family vacation start to fade. They get lost in the shuffle of Meet the Teacher nights, buying books and new clothes for those always growing kids and just all around RL.

Trying to juggle the real world becomes paramount and your kids are on to the next new thing and you start to wonder if they even remember all the fun times or appreciate every sacrifice you made to make their summer vacation rock!!

Hell, you wonder if you can recall those great memories yourself.

But, preserving those memories and reliving them aren’t as difficult as you think.

Studies show that visual, verbal, smell and taste help recall memories. Ever hear a song, or have the smell of honeysuckle that transports you back to a magical moment in your childhood? You can use these same cues to create everlasting, great memories of your family vacations for your kids (and yourself, bonus!!) for years to come. 

PHOTOS

Sure, photos, we all know that photos are memory builders. But with smart phones and social media we have thousands of images socked away on our phones and Facebook, Instagram etc., but are we using these pictures to the best of their use?

Seriously?

Who really looks at them again? And no, very few of us are going to print them out and put them in photo albums circa 1980? Not me, and I was a verified photo album geek!! However, what you can do is load up some of your faves as screen savers for your wide screen TV, laptops, tablets and smart phones. 

I suggest the TV because then everyone gets to see the revolving photo album which can spark conversation, thus leading to solidifying the memories even more. 

Story is a powerful component of making memories stick, says Carol Peterson, Ph.D, in her article for NPR on kids and memory. When a child creates a good chronological story, these memories will last, she said in the article. Seeing your vacation photos help create the story. 

So when we return from a vacation (okay, when I say we, I mean my techie husband), loads up some of the best shots from the trip to our screen saver for the TV. Now when we turn off our TV, photos scroll through and even on busy days we can see our happy vacationing faces in high-def. 

Of course, I also recommend printing out just a few pics and putting into frames, or blowing up into a canvas for your kids’ room. Maybe even buy a souvenir picture frame to create a more tactile memory. It’s a twofer!!

MUSIC

Make a vacation playlist! We are a very music friendly family. My husband codes to music, I write to music, our son plays his from his iPhone in his cruiser cupholder like a mod version of the 80s ghetto blaster.  Spotify is on much of the day in our house. Plus, I like to make playlists (a throw back to my mixtape days of yore), so this last vacation I got the idea of making one for our trip to Italy. It’s been on loop for both me and my son since we got home. While we were out I used Shazam to capture songs in restaurants, gelato shops, cafes and even some museums, then created a playlist on Spotify from there. You can link Shazam and Spotify making it easy to create a playlist from the songs you hear. Watching my son’s face with his lips curled in a little smile, bobbing his head to the beat of his Italy playlist, I can only hope that when he hears these songs years later they will transport him back in time.

Extra points for making a slideshow of pictures to the playlist or better yet a mini movie with the soundtrack. If you make it a family project, even better!

Plus, scientists have found that the brain “…links music, memories, and emotions” through a “hub” known as the medial prefrontal cortex, according to Dr. Petr Janata and his team. In fact, a multitude of research shows the positive effects of music on the brain, from helping with everything from ADD to Alzheimer’s patients, so let it play I say, get connected and dance around the living room or cruise the neighborhood blasting your iPhone. 🙂

TASTE AND SMELL

Basil, honeysuckle, lavender, dried up pine needles, were on our trip. Tastes and connect with the brain too and maybe recreating these aren’t as easy as the two above, but if you like to cook or garden then add these elements to your repertoire. Try making a dish or dessert you had on vacation together and see what conversations these stir up.

I’ll try something simple like this gem my good friend and photographer, Emily Carroll, taught me; basil leaves wrapped around mozzarella balls, drizzled with olive oil and stabbed with a toothpick, à la Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods. I’ll buy the live basil plant and until I kill it with my brown thumb, its fragrant leaves will permeate our kitchen, creating one more link to our vacation in Italy.

ENJOY

These tips aren’t just for exotic vacations, they are for all vacations! From summer fun with the family at the lake, to camping trips or road trips to Disneyland, okay, I’m dating myself here, but you get the idea. 

You took the time, energy and money to plan a summer vacation, now it’s time to get your ROI. So take just a little more time when you get home to put together a little family vacation montage for lasting memories and some family bonding.

I’d love to hear and see what you come up with, so share the love!

Love the life you live,

BjW

The Mother of a Guilt Trip I’m Taking

 

Yeah, I made the decision to change bases from Phoenix, AZ where I’ve lived and worked for the former America West Airlines for almost 30 years as a flight attendant, to Philadelphia, PA. But decisions are hard, especially for me – let’s clear here – I really hate to make them, especially the last minute ones. I agonize over them!! The, “well if I do this, A could happen and do I want that?, What if I do and B happens? Or not…”

Strangely tho the best and easiest decisions for me to make are the kind I don’t think too much about, the ones I just dive right into, the “by the seat of your pants” kinds my mom always said I lived by. Sure, that creates its own set of problems but I’m usually in it and can adapt and see the silver lining. A blessing or a curse, I don’t know which. Either way, every good parent in the world will tell you they struggle, feel guilt, experience anxiety, stress and fear over making big and small decisions that affect their kids. It’s called “Parenthood.”

But also in the big scheme of things, a) life goes on, b) don’t sweat the small stuff, and probably the biggest one of all, c) the kids are gonna be alright.

Which was NOT my mantra yesterday when I’d turned down/missed my opportunity to move my Paris trip up a day earlier so I would be home all day for Halloween instead of getting home right at candy collecting time (yes, please play the violins for me here… immmm, what? Crickets? 🙂 Yeah, yeah, I get it, but to finish my point it’s still work and I could’ve finagled things to have my crepe and eat it too. But I didn’t. Why? The aforementioned fear of change, fear of decisions, fear that I’d mess up everyone else’s schedules I’d already committed too. Sorta solid reasons, but in short, thinking too much about it.

So when I looked at the flights for yesterday’s four-hour commute to Philly (should I have done the trip) they were wide opened, stress free! (No I do not get paid to get from my home base to my work base – that’s all me baby!). But today’s flight, ugggh!!! FULL, full, and fuller. Oy, and to top it off my position on the standby list was falling, fast! Hmmmm.three seats, and now instead of being no. 1 on the list I was no. 8. and there were a few other flight attendants commuting so it would be fingers crossed at how many jumpseats were available to get us all there on time.

Crap no 1! Shoullda taken the damn earlier Paris trip!

Flights wide open both ways, getting home on Thursday evening instead of Friday… BONUS!

However, my Friday night commute home flight looks good seat wise, and all good until I learned there is only ONE afternoon flight home from Philly Friday!!! HOLY SHIT!! How’d I miss that nugget?1?

Crap no. 2! Again!! Shoulda taken the damn earlier Paris trip!! (Now to be honest, I had a slim chance of getting it but I should’ve been more proactive in securing it, and yes, this is where parent decision fear of missing Halloween comes in). Followed by the inevitable guilt that I may screw up being with my son on Halloween comes in. Followed by the anxiety and stress of any crazy shit happening with my last chance commute home for Halloween.

Great!! LOVE being a working parent with limited controls over my schedule!!

But then I hear my mom’s soothing voice in my  head, “honey don’t sweat the small stuff.”

So what is the small stuff exactly here??

One small stuff: You can’t control everything so just let it go. When you’re sweating the small stuff you don’t allow yourself to enjoy the great big stuff right in front of you, HELLO?!? Umm, Im going to PARIS!!

Two small stuff: One Halloween missed does not make me a bad parent, just a lonely albeit thinner one. (Bonus on the laterlol!)

Three small stuff: And major blessing at the same time: My SON will not miss the amazing Halloween I and his Modern Family and friends have set up for him. He will still get to Trick-or-Treat with his friends in his own cool costume as Jeff Corwin (the animal biologist on the Discovery Channel). His “people” aka dad, dad’s girlfriend, my boyfriend and his friend’s moms and dads will make sure he gets his costume set, a candy bag, his friends to and from the State Fair  for the ultimate Halloween (thank you Kristi Meyer Walsh for that!!) and then back to our house for the Halloween sleepover. I am at peace knowing he will have the Halloween we planned for him. And grandma is always at the ready should anything fall through the cracks!

I hate when I second guess my decisions, especially when I find out that decision A would’ve, in hindsight, been better than the decision I’ve made (or not, by default) and currently living.

Yes, these are the small stuffs we parents sweat every day. But we also have to make a living, we have to do our jobs and when I think about all the parents I know that are working their butts off providing for, succeeding at and yes even loving their jobs while missing some events throughout our kids’ lives, I realize, in the Big Picture it is just the small stuff.

But the one thing I want to teach and instill in my son more than anything else in the world is that life is full of choices, ups and downs, fun and not so fun stuff, but I want him to learn to LIVE LIFE FULLY. To enjoy the moment he is in, because if he’s not then he’s missing the great stuff that’s happening RIGHT NOW. I want him to live a little like I do, looking for fun, enjoying life at it’s fullest even if the day or moment isn’t exactly what you expected it to be, because life is great if you let it be. And not to put too small a point on it, I will always be his mom, I will always love him and he is always in my heart even when I’m not with him while he’s living his life. And that’s the most important thing I can instill in him, to be confident he is loved, cause this isn’t about me, it’s about him.

May all your frights stay at bay this Halloween and your pumpkin filled to the brim with treats!

Lesson Two

Don’t get so wrapped up in posting a full “story.”

I’ve missed the last four days (one I completely forgot about it) and the others were because I was overstocking it.

So this one counts for the 17th of March.

It’s Got To Go!

Stuff, clutter, too many things… this is what I’m talking about. I’ve been a bit plagued by this since pregnant while getting my bachelor’s degree. I went to school full time, worked so hard I graduated with honors and had a baby somewhere in between.

We also moved during this time, so when we moved in I didn’t have the time to unpack properly and settle in to our current home. The house is the largest we’ve ever owned and since my life was so busy, I just sort of “hoarded” stuff. Boxes, clothes, books, crap etc. ended up in closets, a spare room, the garage and just about any other place shit can hide.

Well I am long done with school and my baby is now a full fledged 4-year-old kid. I have been in the uncluttering mode for some time and read my daily emails from  unclutterer.com every day for great tips. So I finally am tackling my stuff. Unfortunately I am not the same over-achiever here and am challenged by decluttering and finding it difficult to decide what stays and what goes.

Then I fly with my friend, Debbie Orkin, who is a master declutterer.

“People always ask the same question when they come to our home, ‘Have you lived here long?’ because they think we just moved in – and we’ve lived there for six years!” Orkin says of her sparse and uncluttered home.

She says that whenever they buy something, at least two, ideally three, things have to go. Orkin says she always needs a project to work on so from time to time she’ll notice her husband’s shirts need replacing and she’ll go out, buy some new shirts and then promptly gets rid of all his other shirts.

Light bulb.

I’ll be her project! So I told her I needed her help. She accepted, but said I better be ready to have her really throw stuff away.

I am, but I don’t know when I can get her over to my house. So I decided to text her and ask for daily purging instructions when my new “it” bag arrived from Cjour.com.

My groovy grey-green delectable Mona Lethal Italian leather messenger bag by Tano is the bag I’ve been looking for all my life is perfect! I’ve been hoping to find a bag that can go and do all that I need it to do, from journalist to mom to traveler, this is it. And since I am paring down I knew it was time to say good-bye to some other bags and give “Mona” a shelf of her own.

Orkin delivered on her texted advice:

“…I hold on to designer purses – louis vuitton, coach, etc. I toss non designer crap. U will probably only carry your new purse now so toss the old ones…”

My response:

“Perfect advice… Would u consider Banana Republic a designer one?…”

Orkin:

“Nope-banana rep has to go!!”

Done!

I am now going to my closet to purge! I’m kinda excited about it too – even been texting with Orkin about it and it’s after midnight.

Think I’ve found a great new “class” with a great professor who will give assignments on decluttering via texts – now that’s using social media!

Parenting Without Guilt

Yeah, that’s not gonna happen, but I can do a better job of not feeling guilty for saying “no” and letting my son deal with disappointment.

In Monday’s New York Times, author Liz Galst explores the pros and cons of traveling parents bringing home gifts to their children. As a flight attendant and parent this article resonated with me. I know first hand the expectations I created for my own child when I regularly brought him a gift from my travels, and for a flight attendant that can get really out of control – I mean we travel for a living!

But what really stuck with me in the Jan., 3 article, What Gift To Bring A Child, was the quote about preparing children to deal with hard times:

“We have this notion that we should protect children from hard times like these,” said Ms. Galinsky of the Families and Work Institute. “But children wouldn’t learn how to be grown-ups if they didn’t learn to deal with hard things,” including a parent’s temporary absence.

When I was a new parent (and my son was younger and couldn’t talk) I did a better job at letting him experience disappointment. However now that he is four, talks a good game and understands the real meaning of “no” I’m pathetic at it!

And I don’t know why. I keep wondering if it’s because I hate for him to be sad and disappointed, or because I don’t want to deal with the hassle of his complaints or because I learned it from my mom – who is really bad at saying no.

Maybe it’s all of the above. Either way I am doing him a disservice and I agree with Ms. Galinsky, that giving a child the tools to deal with adversity is a gift.

I am a former board member for North Central Parenting Group (NCPG), a parenting group that hires child psychologists, child care experts and educators so I should know better than to say yes for the wrong reasons. I also have the resources to help me make better parenting choices.

Still I give in.

But in my research on corporate responsibility for my article in Green Living AZ Magazine‘s February edition I came across book I bought the year my son was born, Born To Buy, by author Juliet B. Schor. In her book Schor uncovers the forces behind marketing to kids and how kids end up in the power seat in their homes.

This is something I do not want.

So in keeping with my no-resolutions way of doing things, I am stopping saying yes to everything because it’s easier than a fight. I’ll have to be better at planning out what is important to say no to and stick with it. Even if I am wrong, being consistent with my son is better for him in the long run. This way I know I am teaching him how to cope and prepare for that boss, client or teacher that says no to him, because they will – it’s part of life.

~BjW

Under Deadline

Well my friends and fellow bloggers, I am excited to share news of a new magazine in Arizona that I am writing for, which is also why I have forgotten to blog lately! Oops. My articles will be in October’s issue. Be on the lookout for the issue where I discuss etiquette and support for breast cancer survivors and my own op-ed on taking responsibility for your own health and fitness.

Either way please check out it out and let me know what you think!

GREEN LIVING AZ has launched! A lifestyle magazine dedicated to all things sustainable has hit AZ with a force! Green Living’s mission is to educate, empower and entertain you about all the ways to go green. We break up our magazine into three distinct sections LIVE, WORK & PLAY. Going green can be fun. Pick it up for a limited time at AJ’s, Sunflower, Whole Foods & Fresh & Easy AND SUBSCRIBE! Proceeds of the subscription go back into our community! Thank you for SHARING WITH YOUR FRIENDS!  Go to www.greenlivingaz.com for more information.”

Editor-in-Chief, Tishin Donkersley, M.A.

Also please follow my friend, the Editor-in-Chief, Tishin,  @TishinD on Twitter.

Love the Life you Live,

BjW

No Rest For The Weary White-Collar Moonlighter

Things have gotten so tough financially for families that many white-collar workers are now double-dipping to keep afloat.

Moonlighting used to be something that was a part-time, 10 or 20 hours a week type gig. Usually the moonlighting job took a back seat to the “real” money maker.

But not so much theses days.

In Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal, reporter Sue Shellenbarger writes that many white-collar workers are putting almost as much time in at a second job as their first job. Only these new white-collar moonlighters aren’t necessarily working at a convenience store or fast food chain.

These moonlighters are creating new, entrepreneurial careers for themselves.

One woman even got clearance from her university employer to moonlight on her graphic design business. According to the article, A New White-Collar Jungle, the woman, Jen Klabis, manages to freelance during her 40 to 50 hour work week.

Her hard work looks to have paid off, she was hired by her university as a designer. Now there were legal hoops to jump through for Ms. Klabis to become an independent-contractor for the university, but she has a new career too! One, according to the article, she will continue.

This is something we bloggers appreciate. Working something on the side, hours or minutes or weeks, to do something we find fruitful and fulfilling, and hopefully turn into a real career.

Yet, I notice in the article how many hours these people interviewed work and it leaves me wondering where is the time for family, fun, relaxing? I realize maybe, especially with the disastrous housing market, many people have no choice but to work two full or semi full time jobs to make ends meet.

The article goes on to describe the inability of these moonlighters to relax. According to the article:

The nonstop mental work of two white-collar jobs can leave them unable to relax even when things slow down.

Believe me, we have struggled during this recession too and I’ve watched my husband do much the same thing. Which has me wondering, at what price do we end up working so hard to create something for ourselves and family that our family or health is compromised? Where do we find balance? How do we juggle this life so that we have a life?

I’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions.

Love the Life you Live,

-BjW

Mom Was Right About Eating Your Broccoli

I cannot tell you how many times I have heard it said by mothers of all generations, “Eat your broccoli.” I know I heard it from my mom, and I have said it too, (fortunately my son really does love broccoli), but I still say it when he’d rather eat pizza.

Being an athlete and food fanatic for the last two decades I know broccoli and blueberries are two of the best antioxidant around, but I don’t think my mom, or her mother for that matter did. And yet, they always told me to eat my broccoli.

What I think is interesting is how they knew that my sister and I should be eating our broccoli without today’s Internet, science and technology to tell them why it was so important. Home grown food, or natural foods were more the norm during my childhood. I grew up as a grandchild of poor farmers and it’s just what we ate. Until my mom divorced and I was a teen. Time and circumstances changed our diet from one of whole, natural nutritious foods to easier, prepackaged, processed foods.

Sadly, I found myself going the easy route with my family lately. I knew it had to stop and in my quest to simplify all aspects of my life, I also chose to follow a simpler diet, one with less ingredients. I wanted simple. I wanted whole foods. I wanted easy. I decided to use a very restrictive food list as my grocery list. Nothing processed (except milk and yogurt), a very short list of fruits and vegetables and meat types.  You know what? I was a much better cook! Less choices meant I had to be really creative.

I was surprised, but I loved the simplicity of fewer choices and knowing the food was good, natural and fresh.

Fortunately my family is reaping long term health benefits too (as is our budget!) according to a recent article on Scope, Stanford’s School of Medicine blog. A short list of five foods top the list in fighting cancer. Broccoli, blueberries, onions, tomatoes and soy.

Stanford cardiologist, John W. Farquhar, M.D., says evidence shows these foods all have nutrients to fight cancer. Despite the uncertainty of nutrition’s role in preventing cancer these five foods should be included in the daily diet, believe Farquhar, and his colleague, Joyce Hanna, associate director of Stanford Prevention Research Center.

Farquhar and Hanna co-teach Standford’s popular course, The Best Diet Ever, and in an article in today’s San Francisco Chronicle tell the benefits of eating a diet that includes the five super foods. Farquhar states in the article,

There’s still uncertainty about how important nutrition is in cancer prevention but I’ve found that if you deal with these specific foods, there’s evidence that they all have cancer-fighting nutrients. As opposed to genetics, nutrition is something that people can control.

It seems that “mother really did know best,” even if she didn’t know exactly why we should be eating our broccoli. See, “old school” eating values pair nicely with new and modern technology!

Eat Well, and Love the Life you Live.

~BjW

The “New” List…Managing Mommy

So I was thinking about the list part of 31DBBB of the SITS girls commitment I made. One of the days in the challenge was to blog a list. In my delayed attempt to post something, I made a list of the Things That Make Me Smile, which I am happy to have posted. But as usual with me I ruminate on things and think of how I might have done it better.

So here is my reason for the post and other list:

I started blogging because I wanted to find someone, anyone, to help me figure out how to work from home (I’m a freelance journalist) AND parent a toddler AND have a life. As is common with writers, it’s easy to get distracted without an editor and deadline looming in the background and I never started blogging the topic. But I feel that with the SITS girls and the 31DBBB Challenge, I am in the midst of genius. People who manage family and the “real” job of working from home. Please understand I mean no disrespect when I put the word real in quotes. What I am looking for are tips from people who work more at blogging, managing a business, freelance writing etc., than I DO, which is helter-skelter to say the least.

So one with my “other” list:

1) How do you manage your time if you have children that aren’t in school?

2) Do you set up an office at home and set hours? If so, then how do you manage the other aspects of managing home life, e.g., laundry, errands, meals, workouts, playdates etc.?

3) If you do set up hours how do you get your kids to let you work?

4) If you are interrupted by your kids, how do you get back on track?

5) Can you work in segments? Such as, an hour researching, an hour running errands, half an hour feeding kids, back to work, back to tending to skinned knees, banged heads and “mommy can you make this stick into a doll?”

6) Do you have clients, contracts or deadlines? If so, how do you juggle those with the needs of children, especially when they may be crying in background while you interview a client or lead?

7) How much time do you “work?”

8) Do you have a set routine? If so, what do you do when it’s knocked out of whack with a late sleeping toddler or the opposite, when said toddler or child is up all hours of the night?

9) What’s the thing that “gives” when push comes to shove between work, family, yourself?

10) Do you schedule time for yourself? Is so, how often and what do you do?

11) What’s your best advice for someone just starting to work from home?

I guess it’s less of a list and more of an interview, but hey, it’s hard to get the reporter out of me so there you go.

Anyway, thanks for your time and any input and suggestions, they are greatly appreciated.

~ The Newbie aka BjW