Family Vacations Are Exhausting But So Kick Ass!

As our vacation approaches…..we leave TOMORROW!!!!!!……I have to tell you how excited I am for it!

Summer break is a time for staying up late, sleeping in, Barbeques and vacations. Family vacations!

You may be thinking “This lady is crazy. Family vacations are stressful as all hell.” They are frustrating, exhausting, overpriced and sometimes don’t feel like vacation at all. As a stay at home mom, I get it. Believe me, I do. But despite the insanity and aggravation, I live for family vacations! I love them!

Why?

Because life is short. Life is busy. My kids are growing up too quickly — we are all growing up too quickly — but family vacations give us an opportunity to slow down, sit back and be with each other. They give us a chance to be present and to appreciate one another and they give me a chance to indulge the thrill-seeking, theme-park-loving, running/hiking/climbing/camping hyperactive kid who still lives in my heart, with my kids by my side.

Make no mistake, there are things about family vacations that totally suck:

I loving staying up late — and then sleeping in. I enjoy sunning and sipping on cocktails and I love both rest and relaxation. But these things don’t go well with kids, as you surely know.

Multi-hour massages and day drinking aren’t really “child-friendly.” Oh, and don’t even get me started on the hotel situation, where beds, closets and bathrooms are shared and everyone is crammed into a shoebox for days on end. It’s the true meaning of “too close for comfort.”

But you know what? While I would love to sleep in a separate room and pee alone, have alone time with my husband, get a mani-pedi and a hot stone treatment and I would love to roll out of bed with a mimosa in one hand and a margarita in the other, I would rather get up at the ass crack of dawn and go down to the hotel lobby for lukewarm eggs and a handful of shitty cereal. Or wake up at the camp site for pop-tarts, eggs or granola bars. Whatever we happen to have not forgotten.

I would rather walk up mountain paths and through theme parks until my feet are sore and blistered while the kids are complaining of being tired and hungry.

I would rather go swimming in an overly chlorinated hotel pool (and get my hair wet) if it means I get one laugh from my kids, one hug from my kids, or one smile from my kids.

I would do anything for a special memory with my family.

I value family time and I appreciate the simple things, like impromptu dance parties at 10 p.m or ice cream for dinner. I value the big things like time off, time together, time home, and time away. And I am thankful for the sweet moments. The innocent moments. The fact that I get to sit back and take in the “Where are these moments going?” moments.

As I mentioned earlier, this only happens when my family unplugs and disconnects. Which is rare when you have a 12 year old boy sucked into YouTube and video games.

Vacations are the only time we walk away from work, school, and life and toward each other. We spend hours talking and laughing and listening to each other.

Of course, I would love to tell you that my family does this every day. I would love to tell you that we paint and dance every day and that we savor the “little things” (and one another) every day, but the truth is we don’t.

Not really because shit happens, but mostly because life happens. And sometimes the weight of the world, bills and adult responsibilities, get in the way.

It blinds me and all of us, to the little joys of life.

But on vacation, things are different because we have no work, no chores, and no responsibilities. We have no duties or liabilities, and our only job is to sit back and be together.

We throw schedules away and instead choose to live in the moment, be in the moment, and enjoy the moment. Whatever that moment may bring (or be).

And so we travel together. We party together. We snuggle, fight, laugh, and vacation together.

But here’s the thing: While the tone and tenor of our vacations may have changed — while our destinations have changed — for me, this is what vacationing (with and without kids) has always been about. To refresh my relationship with my husband, and now to refresh my relationship with him and our family.

So even though vacationing with kids may be more stressful — even though it can be a trying, tiring, and exhausting experience (for all) — it is worth it, because at the end of the day we have stories tell. We have memories and we have each other.

At the end of the vacation, I realize how lucky I am and how blessed we all are. As cheesy as it sounds, it’s the truth.

One more day and we are off and running on our family vacation!

Happy Tuesday My Friends

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Procrastinating And Having Fun!

The past few days have consisted of being so busy that at the end of the day I can’t recall if I’d eaten or what I’d eaten, what I really did accomplish (if anything) and knowing that I still have a few busy days left ahead.

It’s my fault. Knowing we have a three-week road trip to pack and prepare for, I decided to go to the water park for Levi’s birthday. We had a bunch of doctor’s appointments and I didn’t have ink for my printer to print out confirmations or maps just in case we didn’t have cell service. That was my biggest excuse. No Ink. Not only that but it’s summer vacation. We have been staying up late watching movies. My kids can stay up until midnight and be up at the butt crack of dawn still. They are wired weird.  I have been tired and my motivation is not in packing…It just takes a lot of thinking. hahaha

For Levi’s actual birthday on Saturday we headed to the water park per his request. It was just the three of us and we had a great time! I got Delylah to ride some rides that she cried about, before and after them but she was brave and did it! She won first place in a hula hoop contest while we were there and was super excited! She is always hula hooping and doing tricks with them. That was all of Saturday. All the smiles and happiness that radiated from both kids that day were well worth it. That just reiterated to me that it wasn’t time to pack yet!

Sunday, I did start packing and printing out all the maps. Everything is reserved and ready. I have one more phone call to make today about a reservation but then I’m done. Just a few more bags to pack, clean out the car and start loading it! Our first day is a 16 hour drive! It’s our only day with that long of a drive. I calculated the miles of our trip. After being on the road for three weeks, we will have driven 4,635.6 miles (probably more with stops and other sight-seeing) across 8 states. We will be on the road a total of 68 hours and 33 minutes (again, probably more with stops and other sight-seeing). When you think about it, that’s not that bad. If combined that would be us in the car for about 3 days out of 3 weeks. Our trip includes white water rafting on the Colorado River, Hiking in Archers National Park, Hiking to waterfalls in Idaho, visiting lots of family, Carlsbad Caverns, camping at KOA’s along the way and more family fun and memories that will last a lifetime! I am super excited to just get in the car and start driving. If I could just finish packing our shit……

That brings us to this fabulous Monday! A day of packing, getting Jack groomed and ready for the trip (he gets to come with us) and taking a small break to have lunch with friends. I doubt I will finish packing but I’m getting closer. I have two days to finish. It can be done!

Do you have any grand plans this summer that you are procrastinating getting ready for?

Happy Monday My Friends

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CELEBRATE GOOD TIMES!

Today we celebrate many things!

My first born child turns 12! I can almost not believe that I have a 12 year old. Some days I feel to young to have a 12 year old and other days I feel like he has aged me greatly. Together, we continue to teach each other about life challenges and how to get through them. He may know exactly how to push my buttons and drive me crazy but he continues to make me proud everyday! His intense anger is still there but his vigorous remorse is even greater as he gets older. Once you get the love from him, you will always have it no matter how angry he gets.

He is a 7th grader. He is overcoming the obstacle of social anxiety and joined the swim team. His first day he wanted to quit. His second day he thought it was the greatest thing ever. He hates Texas. Not because it’s Texas but because he hasn’t met too many nice kids and he misses his family and friends in California. He loves video games and You Tube. He can draw things I wish I could. He is the size of a small man! He is independent, honest and trustworthy.

Apparently, we did something right!

Today is also the day we arrived in Texas last year! We have officially been in this house for 1 whole year. Things have been difficult but we have over come. We have painted and fixed up a couple of rooms and tried hard to make this house feel like home. We still have a ways to go. We just keep living this life one day at a time!

Happy 12th Birthday to My Handsome Big Man and Happy 1 Year To Us On Our Life In Texas!

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Hollenbeck Bee Keepers!

Before we ever left California, my Mother In Law purchased a Flow Hive for us.

You can check out videos and photo galleries of them here → Flow Hive ←

We knew that we would be moving so we never put it together or started our Bee adventure. Once we got to Texas however, Travis put it together and we searched for a place to purchase Bees. It may not be like this everywhere, but we could only buy Bees in the spring. So we put a deposit down to secure our Bees and waited for months to pass. Finally, April arrived and it was time to pick up our Bees. I don’t think any of us knew what to expect. Travis had Bees when he was younger but never actual bought a Nucleus of them. We picked up a box that came with 4 frames and a feeder frame. When a hive is just starting out you need to supply them food. We fed them some nectar that we purchased that was full of essential oils. The Bees loved it. When we got home we let them sit for a little bit before we transferred them to their new home. Travis did the transferring while I took pictures. The entire time though, they did not swarm and were not very aggressive. The pictures below were our first step. Getting the bees and setting up. This took place April 22nd.

After a few weeks of letting them eat and get established it was time to check on them again. We suited up and removed the cover to find that they were doing great! Making honey and filling the box. We removed the feeder frame and added a honey frame. At this time we put the Queen Excluder on. This prevents the queen from going to the top box and laying eggs where the honey is stored. The workers can fit through the holes but she can not. We put the honey extractor on top and scrapped some of the wax and honey off the lid to make it all fit again. And so we could try it. We got them a new feeder that was only filled up one time and we waited again. This was May 8th. About 2 weeks later.

So far so good. It’s been relatively easy. I have been stung once because I think I’m a bad ass.

Now we are ready to check on their progress. We opened up the viewing window and couldn’t believe how much honey was made after 1 month. We had just checked it a week ago and it wasn’t filled up. We decided to go ahead and take our first batch! It was a fun family experience. While you are doing this, you don’t need to be as protected with a suit. You are not disturbing the bees nearly as much as when you are taking off the lid and removing frames. Which still has to be done every now and then for hive maintenance. You do have to take care of it. At some point I do believe we will have to add another super box (that is the box on the bottom where the queen lays eggs) to make more room for more bees to prevent swarms. We happen to have another hive box we just need more frames. This part was the coolest. Seeing all the honey. Watching it just pour out. The kids being a part of it. And then getting to taste all the goodness! This was June 6th.

You can see in the picture above to the right that we drained 2 frames. You can also see that the other frames are not completely full so we did not take them.

We got 3 full jars of honey and I can finally use my honey jar I bought for $2!

Overall, it took about 2 months to get our first batch of honey!

My daughter is allergic to bees. Epi-Pen allergic to bees and that doesn’t stop us from having her join in and be a part of this family experience. In fact, she loves being out with the bees and telling her friends not to swat at them. Bee keeping is not for everyone. This makes it a little easier but maintenance is still required.

We have loved every minute of it!

Happy Thursday My Friends

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