3 Life Lessons Learned from a third-grade crush, Mr. Big and Champagne Hot Tubs

Today I bought a rib-knit, long sleeve, snap button Henely in my favorite shade of green. I have no shame in telling you how glad I am that this look is back – I look awesome in it, although that isn’t really the point. There is something comforting and a bit nostalgic about it which, lucky for you will reveal some pretty embarrassing truths from my past. Let’s just call these “Life Lessons” as the post goes on, shall we?

Life Lesson no.1

Life Lesson: Sometimes you just have to walk away from what isn’t meant for you even when you don’t know what’s next.

In life, you can learn pretty quickly not everything will be as great of a fit as my new henley. In third- maybe fourth- grade, I had the biggest crush on this boy named Shaun. (Shaun, if you read this please know admitting this possibly as embarrassing today as it would have been back then. I hope you find it flattering.) It was a small class, like twelve students and most of us would go continue on to high school together through graduation.

Spoiler alert: I was not the cool kid in class. Glow-up is a real thing.

I was not athletic. My name did not, and still does not, end in an “i”, “y”, or “ie”. Prior to the internet and wayyyy before snapchat, this was a very important marker of social status. My parents refused to buy me the jumbo-sized cans of hairspray so I could craft my bangs do that half-up/half-down thing or perm my obnoxiously straight hair. In my efforts to achieve cool status, I finally talked them into buying me a pair of jeans with zippers at the ankle. Still, the coolest denim in the world couldn’t repair my heart the day I sat next to Shaun on the bleachers and he said: “Could you just NOT sit by me?”  Ugh.

I was crushed. I couldn’t say anything. I just got up and walked away. I knew from the tone of his voice that it just wasn’t meant to be. Sometimes you just have to know to walk away from what isn’t meant for you even when you don’t know what’s next. Even when it hurts.

Life Lesson no. 2

Life lesson: Don’t pattern your romantic aspirations after the lyrics of rock ballads. Especially ones sung by groups like “Mr. Big”.

Fast forward to 7th grade. There was a new girl at school this year. She wore thick dark eye liner and black t-shirts of bands I’d never heard of. She was a year or two older than me and a little sarcastic but friendly. A few weeks after school started her father passed away. She didn’t know many people yet and even though I didn’t know her very well I wanted to go by and offer my condolences. My parents were very strict and I wasn’t usually allowed to visit the homes of friends without knowing their parents but they agreed to drop me off for an hour or so anyway.

The door was open when I got to her house. I walk past a group of adults to find the group of tweens /teens in the back dining room by the staircase. I didn’t really recognize anyone else. I think they were mostly cousins and friends from out of town. There was rock music playing of some of her dad’s favorites: Lynyrd Skynard, Kiss, ZZ Top, Aerosmith… none of them were familiar to me. I hadn’t been allowed to listen to any of them before… sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll, you feel me?

After a little while we all sat down on the floor and someone turned the radio on. On the other side of the circle, someone started passing something. It wasn’t my vibe so I just passed it along. Whether it was the passage of time or a solid contact high, I don’t remember who was there, what we talked about, or even if we talked but I vividly remember the song that was on the radio at that moment. It shaped what I wanted from relationships for a long time (insert healthy doses of embarrassment here…deep breath *sigh*) Mr Big – Just To Be With You 

As I sat there listening to the lyrics, I remember thinking THAT was what I wanted in a relationship. That was how I wanted to be loved or wanted or whatever. I mean, clearly ” Why be alone when we can be together” is solid reasoning, right? And sooooo non-judgmental. He didn’t care that he wasn’t the first or the last… he just wanted to be the next and he came offering to make her smile. Smiling is still my favorite. In retrospect, I had a fair amount of relationship wisdom to gain. This perspective, that environment was all so new, I held onto those lyrics for a long time. I got my heart broken a fair number of times as a result. Don’t pattern your romantic aspirations after the lyrics of rock ballads, especially ones touting the moniker “Mr. Big”. If you have to tell people you are a big deal, you probably aren’t.

Life Lesson no.3

Life lesson: Keep examining your dreams. If you don’t, you might arrive only to wonder why you wanted that in the first place. Especially if that dream was a hot tub in the shape of a champagne glass.

As I mentioned before, we didn’t have the internet growing up. What we did have was 1-800 numbers. People were not as adverse to talking on the phone back then. I was left at home alone a lot and loved getting things in the mail. Fun fact: This is where my love of travel began. Anytime I would see a travel destination advertised I would furiously write down the number and muster my most grown up voice to call and request a free travel packet be sent to my house. This went on from age 9 until I was in high school. It was awesome. If I’m honest, I still enjoy recieving an occasional visitors packet now and again.

In the back of every travel packet would be advertising for other travel destinations. Almost every one of them would feature a heart shaped tub or or huge champagne glass filled with bubbles “Come get away to a relaxing getaway in the Poconos!”

I had no idea where in the country the Poconos actually was at the time but in my mind, this was the ultimate luxury and class to aspire to. When you could get away to spend time in a tub shaped like a champagne glass you had arrived. Well…..last year, I was invited to a workshop held in….you guessed it… THE POCONOS! Years had gone by without me remembering my dream of champagne glass hot tubs. As I was driving up to our cabin I suddenly remembered this story and shared it with my friend, Clarissa. She immediately googled and realized that the very resort I had idolized for so long was only 20 mins away. We agreed to stop by and get a tour on our way home.

What happened was a hilarious series of events that truly will need its own blog post. What I can tell you is that it was not in any capacity the luxury dream I had imagined. Let me show you with a few snapshots and hopefully you’ll understand.

If you made it to the end of this BRAVO!
It’s funny what how a little nostalgia can conjure up a lifetime full of memories and how small moments can shape us and grow us. I’ve only just shared these stories with my family yesterday. Hopefully they mean something, made you smile, or gave a little more insight to my life. It definitely did all three of those things for me.

Sometimes life doesn’t turn out how we imagined, hoped or romanticized it would but that doesn’t mean it isn’t leading exactly where we ought to be.

Connecting with Your Teens at Six Flags Over Texas

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Six Flags Over Texas Mr Freeze

At least once a season we make a family outing to Six Flags Over Texas. This is always such a fun outing because there is something for everyone to enjoy no matter your level of adventure. We’ve been making a concentrated effort to spend time connecting with our teens this summer as much as possible. This time our whole family was invited to visit and share everything that’s new for summer 2018 at Six Flags Over Texas. As part of our experience, we were provided with tickets, flash passes, and meals so we could experience as much as possible.

There really is a TON to do at Six Flags Over Texas even if you have one or two in your group that aren’t extreme thrill-seekers. Pro-Tip: grab preferred parking and flash passes before you arrive at the park. They are an excellent value and make for an even better experience.

Connecting with Your Teens at Six Flags Over Texas this Summer

Our most recent visit was an exceptionally great time with our teens for a number of reasons. This visit Sebastian made a leap to try his first ever thrill ride- the brand new for 2018 Harley Quinn Spinsanity! They are growing up but definitely still include us in their fun. We enjoy every opportunity to see them grow.

Six Flags Over Texas Teens

On this day, it was obvious our teenagers had grown leaps and bounds since our last visit. Not just because all worries of qualifying for a height requirement were long removed. It was more to do with the way they walked up to the park gates with confidence, keenly aware of exactly where they wanted to go.  It’s clear they are becoming more and more independent with every passing summer.

Six Flags Over Texas Connecting with Teenagers

We saw a lot of them from the back as they walked ahead enjoying each other’s company and finding their own way. Almost like clockwork, they would come rushing back to us excited to share what they just learned, saw, or experienced. It’s so similar to when they were smaller, running ahead but turning back for a certain amount of reassurance.  I love seeing that the world is still full of wonder. Parenting will always be a good deal of experiencing the world through their eyes like everything is brand new. I imagine it will always feel like this no matter how grown up they become.

Six Flags Over Texas Selfie with the Teens

And then, he rode his first thrill ride!!

The Newest Thrill Ride at Six Flags Over Texas- HARLEY QUINN Spinsanity

What came next was a complete surprise to everyone in our group. We have always had a mix of extreme thrill seekers and easier-going personalities. Kaitlyn has always been a major thrill seeker looking for the highest and fastest, while Sebastian has always insisted “life is enough of a rollercoaster” for him. Even if he didn’t want to ride, he always walks through the line with us telling jokes. When it’s time for our group to board the ride, he passes over and waits on the other side. Most rides aren’t more than a couple of minutes. Surprisingly, this time he said he really wanted to take the ride.

Six Flags Over Texas Harley Quinn Spinsanity

We were shocked. The newest ride, just introduced to the park that week, Harley Quinn Spinsanity, was quite the ride to attempt for a first-ever thrill-ride.

This first-of-its-kind thrill-ride was inspired by the movement of a gyroscope and delivers unpredictable, gravity-defying flips, twists and turns. Harley Quinn Spinsanity features a unique futuristic triple box design that allows the gondola to spin around three separate axes while rotating forward, backward and sideways simultaneously at up to 70 feet in the air!

We took a video interview to capture the before and after reactions he had. The video is priceless. I have the whole thing featured on a highlight reel on our Instagram account – you can see that and all the behind-the-scenes of our summer visit here.

What if someone in our group doesn’t enjoy thrill-rides? No Problem! There is still SO much to enjoy!

A larger family always means knowing there will be a lot of preferences to accommodate for. Until this recent visit, we’ve always had to plan for how we would handle those that lived for thrill-rides and those that would rather sit it out while still maintaining an enjoyable experience for all. We’ve got a few different strategies and suggestions for this.

Here’s a list of several activities you can enjoy at Six Flags Over Texas that ensures everyone has a great time!

6 Ways to Enjoy Six Flags Over Texas Even If You Don’t Like Thrill Rides

  • Special Events- from educational events to special celebrations of the arts there is always something being showcased to look for and enjoy. For a current calendar of events at Six Flags Over Texas click here.
  • Shopping – Love shopping at the park and plan to visit a lot? Did you know there is a Season Shopping Pass?! Right now for just $19.99 this add-on to your Season Pass will give you a 20% discount on almost all in-park merchandise through the end of the 2018 season — no minimum purchase required!
  • Holiday Festivals – Depending on the season you will often find the park decorated for the holiday and full holiday spirit during Holiday in the Park- or full of spooky Spirits if you visit during Fright Fest.
  • Games – You won’t have to look far to find a game that suits your skill level. All throughout the park, you’ll find various midway games to compete in for prizes.
  • Food-  No matter what type of food is your favorite, you’ll find it at Six Flags Over Texas. In between coasters, get ready to enjoy every goodie you can imagine, from pretzels and popcorn to funnel cakes and brisket nachos. We were also pleased that the vegetarians in our group could find a healthy salad or other option at several locations at the park with no trouble.
  • Live Performances- All year long there are live performance and concerts to enjoy that will keep you singing and vibing as you stroll along. During our visit, we enjoyed a free live concert and danced for over an hour near the concert stage inside the park.

We had such a great time this visit and stayed until the very minute the park closed. On the way home, the backseat was filled with chatter of how much fun they had. The next day, I even received a couple of text messages thanking me for spending the day with them. Texting is true teen appreciation.

I want to say once again how much we appreciate Six Flags over Texas sponsoring this post. These moments of connection with our teens will last a lifetime.

Become Part of the Art at Museum of Illusions in Los Angeles

Museum of Illusions Bubble BlowingI’m in Los Angeles this week for a pretty impressive global lifestyle event but it would be a total missed opportunity if I didn’t share about my fun, albeit VERY impromptu visit to the Museum of Illusions last night. After dinner a couple of ladies on the trip with me extended an invite. I was feeling a bit sleepy but knowing it was near the hotel we are staying at and I am typically ALWAYS up for an adventure I decided to risk it. OMG! I am so glad I did. In just a few pictures you will see why the Museum of Illusions is such a great time. If you decide to go I highly recommend organizing a group to join you.

Museum of Illusions falling building

A visitor to the Museum of Illusions is not a passive observer but a full-fledged participant of the paintings created by the best artists. This is a place where photography is not just encouraged – it is part and parcel of the exhibition. The museum of optical illusions is intended to fill visitors’ photo albums with vivid and unusual photographs. Everyone finds something to their liking here because we tried to cover every topic of interest for the humankind. The Museum of optical illusions opens its doors for the viewers of all ages, without restrictions, and guarantees – no one will feel bored!

Museum of Illusions Space Room

Museum of Illusions Hamburger

Ready to plan your visit to the Museum of Illusions ?

Museum of Illusions front desk

Here’s what to know before you go: 

Tickets may be purchased at the door for $25 depending on availability. Get your tickets HERE.

FREE admission for children 5 years old and younger. Strollers permitted. $10 for Children’s tickets (6-12 years old)

No food, drinks, dogs, rollerblades, skateboards, or aliens allowed.

$20 Parking: 1724 N Highland Ave, Los Angeles, CA, 90028

30+ artworks.

Expect to spend an hour at the museum.

Photography permitted.

VIP tickets include parking, bypassing the line/individualized schedule, personal photo shooting & a special gift.

Museum is open 10AM – 12AM daily. Last Entry 11PM.

Santa Babies : Meeting Santa for the first time

One tiny human meets Santa

Woah, guys… Do you know who this guy is???? I hear he’s kind of a big deal.

We’ve all seen the semi-hilarious first photos with Santa that have taken turn for the worse. As with any first, no one can reallllly gauge what’s going to happen. I mean, this is legitimately the first time your child has seen someone dressed this way. If we’re being honest, that much red and fur combined is a BOLD choice for even the most magical of us. Bottom line, you just never really know how it’s going to go the first time your baby sees Santa.

This year my sister Baileigh, and brother-in-law Aaron had the BRILLIANT idea of inviting Santa over for the babies first visit. Bella, our “One Tiny Human” and our nephew, Harrison had a very special first visit with the man in the red suit and his lady this weekend.

Santa Babies : Meeting Santa for the first time

One Tiny Human with Santa

These guys have snacks, smell like peppermints, and are super cuddly. I think I like them.

They were so sweet with the babies and spent plenty of time getting know them, not being rushed through the moment. It allowed us to capture a few special pictures like when they were reading to them. We were able to enjoy coffee,  warm cocoa and Christmas cookies while the kids chatted with the Claus couple. It was a huge difference from the traditional mall Santa experiences that we’ve done before.

One Tiny Human and Harrison read with Santa

“Twas the night before Christmas…” read by Santa and Mrs Claus. So precious!

And because no one can resist a picture with Santa we jumped in front of the camera for a quick snapshot too. I think I will always love the magic of Christmas. (I am also kind of in love with Randy’s Christmas pug sweater.)

Family Santa Pic

Time for a family picture. The magic of Christmas is real no matter how old you get.

Family Santa pic with one tiny human

I highly recommend this for a first Santa experience or a 100th Santa experience for that matter. as you can tell, meeting Santa in this way completely put the babies at ease and we all had a lovely time together. We were able to capture some of the sweetest pics that I’m sure we’ll treasure forever.

Have you ever had a Santa come to your house? What was it like when you took your child to meet Santa for the first time ?

Taking New Turns & Turning Heads : The Honda Civic Type R

Honda Civic Type R

Everyone has a way of marking the timeline of their life. Your grandparents may have dated theirs with “Well, when Eisenhower was president…” Some will calculate seasons by who they were romantically involved with. Mothers and fathers measure timelines with dates of pregnancies or children’s birthdays. Growing up in an automotive family, the stories I heard always included memories categorized by the cars that were driven. Cars were always a significant part of the story. Just like this one.
At a time when most of my friends were still in college finding themselves, I found myself in a driveway restarting my life in a sporty red Honda Civic. This was a pivotal point on my timeline. Looking back, this place in my past was one of the most uncertain times of my entire life. As a recently separated single mother, this was literally the key to making this new life work. Staring down the hood, I came to a powerful revelation. I was doing more than taking ownership of a car that day. I was also taking ownership of my life. I held the keys in my hand and took a deep breath as if the oxygen filling my lungs would replace the trepidation inside. The next steps would require a monumental amount of endurance, resiliency, determination and confidence.
It was a fun car to drive and great fit for my personality but it meant so much more to me than that. Owning that Civic was the security I needed to arrive on time to the 55-65 hours a week required to make this new life possible. It provided a place of solace when my two babies were incessantly crying and my arms were too tired to hold or rock them a minute longer. Secure in their car seats, we drove until tiny eyelids could finally be seen blinking in slow motion in the rear view mirror. I’d drive a bit longer to make sure that sleep was certain and then find a spot overlooking a lake or park that had gone quiet for the evening.

At the end of long days like this, inside this car was where I shed tears, sorted through my thoughts and worries, and reassured myself “we really were doing a good job getting there ” (even if I didn’t quite know where “there” was yet). Through every curve, tight corner, and rough patch I got there.
Several years later, I found myself handing over the keys to a new owner. It very much felt like the end of a journey. I was both relieved and sentimental thinking about the feat it was to purchase that car at that point in my life. It was the proof I needed to refute echos of “you’ll never make it on your own. You are going to fail”.  But I hadn’t failed. I had persevered and proven to the world I could.

seaplane Honda Civic Type R

Years went by without another Honda in my driveway but late this summer, I received an invitation to sit in the driver’s seat of a 2017 Honda Civic Type R as it makes its entrance into the US market. We would arrive by seaplane to stay at the beautiful Alderbrook Resort & Spa, driving the winding roads of Washington State, and have the opportunity to fully test the Civic Type R with a few fast laps on the track at the Ridge Motorsports Park. Beautiful scenery, luxury accommodations, and fast driving who could say no to that?

Yet, I hesitated for 3 days before sending back my reply of acceptance. It wasn’t due to lack of excitement about the invitation. Ties to emotional memories are powerful in that way, friends. Somewhere deep inside hid a small part of myself wondering if the smallness I felt in years past would come rushing back when once again I positioned myself in the drivers seat of another Honda Civic.

This certainly wouldn’t be the same Civic from my past- FAR from it. In a respectful parallel, I was also now far from the young 22-year-old woman who once stood alone trying to regain her confidence. Was I really as strong and confident as I imagined myself to be? Was I trying to prove something to myself? This invitation offered an opportunity to find out. I knew there was definitely a story to be told here. If nothing else I’d have the opportunity to prove my driving skills as the limited production Type R is manufactured in manual-transmission only.

On the track Honda Civic Type R

The Honda Civic Type R

The Honda Civic Type R has been sold in Japan, Europe, and Australia for decades now. Enthusiasts in the US have been anxiously awaiting its release here in the states. The mere mention of the front-wheel-drive lap-time record at Nürburgring of 7 minutes 43.8 seconds, delivering 306 horsepower and 296 pounds of torque seemed to be all thats needed to create an inner desire to get behind the wheel.

On the track in the Honda Civic Type R

Taking New Turns and Turning Heads in the Civic Type R

Bell Helmets Honda Civic Type R

My drive opportunity during this trip in the Type R offered the full range to experience every capability this car is equipped for. It allowed us driving speeds of 122+ mph on the track at The Ridge Motorsports Park. You’ll never find out how truly capable you are until you position yourself in a place to challenge yourself and your limits. This seemed like the ideal place to test limits.
On the track Honda Civic Type R

Even at increasing speeds the Type R enters every turn with precision, simultaneously keeping its passengers firmly embraced in its red and black sport seats.

The D-shaped steering wheel, sport pedals and aluminum shifting knob are a consistent reminder of what this car is engineered for. The distinctive design of the Type-R is as functional as it is head turning.

Honda Civic Type R rear view
Side angle of the Honda Civic Type R

Checkered flag Honda Civic Type R
It’s so head turning in fact that my drive partner Scotty ( you can read her take on the Type R here) and I were flagged down along our route by a local and his wife, to discuss how he could purchase a Honda Civic Type R of his very own that very day. Obviously, we couldn’t sell him ours but we assured him we’d connect him with someone who could.

Fans of the Honda Civic Type R We continued the transition from track to road finding the only difficulty was making the mental shift to drive lower local speed limits, shifting gears was always smooth. It was fun to drive fast but it just as comfortable for long drives on the road. Outfitted with comforts of a 7 inch display, 12 speaker sound system, and climate control you’ll find yourself wanting to spend more time in this car. If your day to day life is like mine seeming to always move along at record speeds, well, this car can certainly keep up with that too.

The three drive modes in the sporty Civic Type R (Comfort, Sport, and +R) offer ideal driving dynamics adjusting things like steering and throttle response, transmission, and rev matching which made transitioning from a speedy track drive into a comfortable road trip nothing but smooth sailing.

Honda Civic Type R drive modes

Honda Civic Type R alderbrook resort

As we completed our drive and pulled back into the property at Alderbrook Resort & Spa, I had a few minutes to reflect in my suite before our group would be actually setting sail for an evening dinner cruise on the Hood Canal.

Alderbrook resort and spa

 

I noted that not once had my concerns of the past hindered my day or drive. My day had been filled with meaningful conversations, new experiences, beautiful scenery, and a feeling of truly being present. Isn’t the ability to appreciate every beautiful person, live fully in the moment, and just find ourselves with the ability to be present the goal we all have for our lives? I’m pretty certain that’s the only KPI that truly matters. Achieving a life we are proud to live. Well done, Honda.

Although reassessing a journey of where we’ve been and how we got there can make us all feel vulnerable, ultimately it helps us arrive at a place of authenticity. It helps us to reaffirm the confidence in ourselves at every stage of our life.

Alderbrook resort and spa room

Many Thanks & Appreciation to Honda
It was an honor to be a guest of Honda experiencing the Type R drive in such a thoughtful and authentic way. As is typical, all accommodations and travel were provided. Additionally all experiences, opinions and storytelling are authentically my own.