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.

A Meaningful Gift for the Last Minute Gift Giver in All of us : Canvas Prints

Okay guys, the holiday countdown has started. I hate to be the bearer of bad news but if you haven’t started your holiday shopping, you are behind. Maybe, mayyyyy-be I’m bringing this to your attention because I too am behind (confession: I am TOTALLY behind).  In an effort to also be the bearer of good news, I’ve partnered with CanvasDiscount.com and Bravomark for a pretty great solution to our gift giving woes. 

Good News: CanvasDiscount.com

As the name suggests, CanvasDiscount.com offers a fabulous selection of canvas prints at a discount. This is an excellent bonus in my opinion because if you have yet to start shopping you may not have thought to set a budget for aforementioned shopping either… but who am I to make assumptions? (I’m the author of this post, obviously and if you are reading this you didn’t make a budget. Neither did I. Let’s just admit it. It’s fine. We’re all in this sinking ship together). Remember that good news I was bringing? I have even better news to share! 

90% off of all Canvas Prints at CanvasDiscount.com

After talking with CanvasDiscount.com they created a special landing site just for us , up to 90% off of all Canvas Prints seen on CanvasDiscount.com. You do have to click on this specific link to reach that landing page and get the discount though. If you just google the website, you won’t reach the page with the discount applied. 

And in case the walls of your gift recipient are all filled up, there are a number of other things you can order on the site as well : phone cases, puzzles, blankets, cushions, mugs, and photos on aluminum or acrylic, or in frames for workspaces. 

Whether you are gifting a friend, relative, coworker, client, or all of the above you can have your list checked off in no time at a very affordable cost! Guys, I’ve just made our lives so easy! Now all you have to do is click here ,start scrolling through your phone and pick out your favorite pics of 2018. And remember to pick ones where you BOTH look good. 😉 

Happy Shopping!! My canvas prints are already on the way- I’ll be sure to update you guys as soon as they arrive. I can’t wait to show you!!! 

*** To Guaranteed Delivery in time for Christmas:

Wall Deco: 12/17/18
Home & Lifestyle: 12/16/18
Photo Gifts (except Phone Case & children`s book): 12/16/18

Are you Costume Ready for Halloween?

With Halloween just around the corner, it was time for us to get our costumes in gear.  Each time I have planned too far in advance there are always literal last-minute costume changes. This Sunday I enlisted the help of Dr. Seuss and KidzVuz.com to sponsor this post and help us put on our thinking caps for a great Halloween planning session.

Believe it or not, capturing the attention of teens often requires a little something to keep them busy while we talk through ideas. This Dr. Seuss Cat in the Hat Bricky Blocks Build on Snapback Hat and Grinch knee highs helped to not only get them in the mood for dressing up but also helped keep them entertained while we talked.

Sebastian went right for building with the Dr. Seuss Bricky Blocks Build-On Snapback Hat Kit and Kaitlyn loved The Grinch Knee High Socks.

The Dr. Seuss Cat in the Hat snapback hat kit includes hat, pieces, and a guide for building your own designs. The hat size is adjustable and fits most kids and even adults so you even mom and dad can have a turn with it.

Sometimes it just takes a simple gesture to show your family that no matter how much you’ve grown up it’s still fun to be silly together. We went through several ideas but it didn’t take long before we were laughing and had our costumes all planned out. It looks like I’ll be ordering a few more things from elope.com for our final family Halloween look. Stay tuned for a final reveal Oct 31st!

Do you know what your family will be dressing up for this Halloween? 

 

Turn frowns upside down on rainy days with this Dr. Seuss The Cat in the Hat Bricky Blocks Build-on Snapback Kit by elope. Inspired by the beloved children’s book, this black snapback features soft black and white ears which frame the iconic white and red stovepipe hat. In the center of the hat is a white brick plate, compatible with most major brick building systems, which is perfect for crafting a variety of designs. We’ve even included a set of templates to help jumpstart your creativity. Whether it be building on a sunny Sunday morning or inventing on a rainy day, this Dr. Seuss Cat in the Hat Bricky Blocks Build-On Snapback Kit by elope is sure to bring the fun out of the box and into your everyday.

The Grinch may be a mean one, but you’ll have nothing but love for these Dr. Seuss The Grinch Knee High Costume Socks by elope. Carefully crafted in bright green acrylic yarn, our original design features the iconic yellow eyes, hearts in three sizes, and Grinchy features made famous in the book. If you want to steal Christmas or add a great Grinchy accessory to your wardrobe, you’ll be set with these Dr. Seuss The Grinch Knee High Costume Socks by elope.

What We Did on Our Summer Vacation 2018 : The Airstream Adventure

Every summer, in an effort to reinforce the pillars of exploration, curiosity, and independence, we plan an exciting summer adventure with our family. The qualifications for each adventure is that it be a little different than the year before and something that none of us have done previously. Being the extroverted bunch that we are, these qualifiers become more challenging year after year. We were fortunate enough to have some amazing partners to help us, quite literally, pull this adventure together(<<you’ll see why that was such a great pun in a minute). So, before we get too far along in our story I want to say a BIG thanks to Ford, Airstream, Vogt Family Fun Center, and KOA for helping make this summer adventure one that our family will never forget.

When we were dreaming up what this year’s adventure would look like, the travel method was a resounding: “ROAD TRIP!!” In a world full of technology, online reviews, smartphones, we are simultaneously more connected and less connected than ever before. There is just something classic and inspiring about heading out for adventure knowing you have every amenity and luxury of “home” literally right behind you. To be honest, the combined amenities of the Tommy Bahama airstream, East Austin KOA campsite, and the Ford Expedition we were traveling with may just have afforded us more luxuries than home.

Truck and Towing – What the Haul?

Maybe you’ve been secretly been interested in trying this out too but you’re a little nervous?

Never towed anything before? Same here. Put those fears aside you have nothing to worry about.

Being brand new to towing and hauling a home on wheels, I was a little apprehensive about calculating travel time, towing hookups, and setting up the airstream at the campsite. I may have been having flashbacks of the RV scene from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation with cousin Randy outside in his short robe…..which let’s just be honest, is not a good look for anyone. Thanks to the ease of the 2018 Ford Expedition and the great instruction from the crew at Vogt Family Fun Center, it was incredibly easy even for newbies like us.

The good news was that we had absolutely nothing to worry about because before we left we were given a very detailed walk around answering any questions we had. The ease of hooking up and towing with the technology in the Ford Expedition was going to make this trip a breeze. You don’t even need a spotter because you can see everything and are perfectly guided right behind the wheel.

Now that we were all hooked up, It was time to get on the road! You can read Randall’s account of the journey featured over on Thrills and Wheels. It’s a pretty sentimental father-son story that I really enjoyed hearing from his perspective.

Texas Airstream Adventure

The mileage between Dallas and Austin isn’t very far, even driving a little slower with the added weight of towing an RV is only a few hours. We’ve traveled a good deal of Texas so we the location wouldn’t be the unique factor but the accommodations would be. I’ve never been much of a camper. Lucky for me camping in a 2018 Tommy Bahama Airstream is the most luxurious way to stay on the road. Combine that with the amenities that were available to us at the East Austin KOA site,  it was like living a dream. This was in no way going to be a typical camping experience.

Setting Up Our Glampsite

Staying at a KOA site is really cool! There are various levels of camping available, from roughing it my preferred style of ‘glamping’. We had no idea how cool these locations could be! It was our first time to stay a KOA and it definitely won’t be our last! Some locations have tiny homes, treehouses, or teepees you can reserve. I really like the unique campsite ideas. It’s pretty much the only way I want to camp from now on.

Getting set up at our reserved campsite was so easy! We checked just a little after regular office hours but there was still an attendant on duty to give us a check-in packet. Getting our hookups in place and only took about 15 minutes to get set up.

KOA Airstream set up

Our deluxe campsite came with outdoor patio furniture, a fire pit, and a gas grill. The staff who also stay on-site came by to check on us and make sure we didn’t need any additional help. Everyone we encountered was so friendly.

KOA deluxe campsite

I really loved the East Austin KOA location and HIGHLY recommend booking here if you are staying in the local area. I’ll share a more detailed post specifically about this in a post of its own but for now here are a few pics of the amenities onsite!

KOA pool

Inside the Airstream – Home Sweet Home

We have always played with the idea of a tiny house or something of that nature all the while living in Texas-sized accommodations in the neighboorhood of 3000 sq ft. Could we really manage a vacation in an airstream? Not only could we but we loved it! My biggest concern was whether we would be cool enough since the forecast for the weekend we chose was hitting over 100 degrees every day. Not only were we cool enough, one evening we woke up and turned the air conditioner up because we were getting chilled.

Inside the Airstream were all the comforts of home. Let me take you on a quick tour….

In this first space, you’ll see the full kitchen(gas stove, microwave, ice maker, sink, refrigerator), dining room ( which transitions into a full/queen sized bed), bar area and SO MUCH storage and plenty of USB/outlets for all our devices. That part was a dream for traveling with teenagers who are always charging. Even on vacation.

Inside the Airstream kitchen

In this second view, you get a better view of the rest of the kitchen, pantry, queen size bedroom, television, closet, and an idea of where the bathroom and shower are located. The KOA site had amazing wifi so in the evening we could stream a movie or shows if we wanted to but we were so busy having fun there wasn’t really time for that. Still, it was cool to know that if a rainy day had been in the forecast we could have.

One area you can’t see from the pictures is the bathroom with a full shower, toilet, sink, mirror, and storage. The door folds in when not in use to give you more room in the bedroom. It folds out when in use to provide more space when someone is taking a shower etc., It never felt crowded or cramped. We were really impressed with the excellent use of space.

Glamping vs Camping

Glamping vs. Camping means that we expored city life too. While we did spend a good deal of time at our KOA exploring the property, swimming, and lounging about in our fancy airstream accommodations but we also got to enjoy our FAVORITE city some too. It’s no secret that we love Austin and we have the BEST time every single visit. We ate Torchy’s Tacos because truly their queso is heaven. We went night swimming at Barton Springs. It was too hot to sit over a campfire for smores so we went for fancy Smores rolled ice cream from a food truck. Oh, and did I mention I forgot to pack shirts? Yep, not a single one because …. ? That was totally okay though since Austin has some of the best thrift stores- vintage and otherwise- We went family thrifting.

I got this adorable dress for $8. Our whole family got new outfits actually and we decided to have an impromptu photo shoot. It truly made for the best memories and I’ll be hanging these new family photos on our living room gallery very soon.

As you can clearly see there is a lot of personality in our family. We love spending time together at home or traveling. This adventure was incredibly memorable for reasons I’m not sure I’ve entirely written here. Memories like this get deeper as the years go on. They are the things you talk about at Thanksgiving, weddings, making plans for the future and things your kids tell their kids. I’m actually tearing up just thinking about it.

Bottom line, get out and adventure with your family. Camp. Glamp. Take a road trip. Just get out, make crazy good memories and explore in every season of life.

The Dove Self Esteem Project Helped My Teen and I Have Hard Conversations

Speak Beautiful Dove Self Esteem Project

*The following has been shared with my daughter’s expressed permission & inspired from my experience with the Dove Self Esteem Project and #HourWithHer during Mom 2.0 Summit 2018

Friends, can I be honest with you? I often feel like I’m doing it wrong. “It” can be translated into a number of things in life. Carrer, parenting, marriage, etc, you name it. When I compare myself to the idealistic standards in my mind or on the internet,  I don’t always feel like the perfect mom, wife, or friend. Maybe you feel like that sometimes too. What helps me is being surrounded by a community of trusted mentors, friends, and colleagues that support and soundboard with me ensuring me that I am getting “it” right more times than not. They remind me of my strengths,  let me know I am valued and remind me of all the beautiful parts. As our daughters are growing up they are going through the very same things and need our encouragement. This is something we ALL need, no matter our age or stage in life. Having a mentor and being a mentor to others is so important.

Dove Self Esteem Project #HourWithHer

My Introduction To The Dove Self Esteem Project

Earlier this year at Mom 2.0 Summit, I gave an hour of my time to participate in a Dove workshop as a mentor to teen girls. At first glance, I could tell some of these girls didn’t think we had much in common. As we talked over the next sixty minutes about transformational life moments and instances that had negatively impacted my self-esteem at their age, I could see their demeanor change. They began to share their similar experiences and we talked about ways to reframe those situations. You could see in their smiles that they felt more confident and beautiful. It was proof that sharing our stories connects and uplifts us.

Encouraging authentic storytelling and uplifting the next generation to reshape how they see themselves are actinos that are relevant to our community now more than ever.

That hour showed me just how important it is to be intentional with our time and experiences. Having a teen daughter of my own entering high school this fall, I made a decision to implement the Dove #HourWithHer philosophy at home this summer having intentional conversations. It wasn’t awkward or weird. It was time that strengthened our relationship with such a small amount of effort.

Spending just one hour talking with a girl in your life about beauty, confidence, and self-esteem can make such a difference in her future development.

Some of the conversations we had were light and we laughed until our sides ached. Other conversations were harder. There were a few topics I may have otherwise avoided in an effort to shield her from hard things I’d experienced. What I realized is that as girls are forming into more mature, complete people it is important that they have a good picture of who we are as their parents and mentors. It’s important that they know we are human, imperfect, talented, and yet, still growing too.

Kaitlyn Dove Self Esteem Project

You Don’t Have To Be Perfect

Want to know something that pretty freeing? You don’t have to be perfect to be a role model or mentor. You don’t have to feel like you always have to have the right answers. In fact, as our daughters and young girls are looking up to us if we project this image of perfection it gives them an unrealistic guide to measure themselves against. Perfection isn’t the goal, confidence is. They just need our time and the knowledge that their body, personality, height, weight, hair, and heart is just exactly the correct way as long as they feel confident in it.

The hours I spent with my daughter this summer gave her an open door to ask questions about me when I was her age and other topics that she may not have known how to approach or introduce otherwise. There were several topics and stories I wouldn’t have thought to share. This time helped us see each other in a new way and we both left more uplifted and with more confidence.

About the Dove Self Esteem Project

Dove understands it can feel daunting to introduce new conversations like this and they have solutions to help you get started. They have even categorized guides to the discussions for Parents & Mentors, Teachers, and Youth Leaders. You can search for specific topics on the site as well. For those that need a different way to spend time with these topics, you’ll find other helpful resources like the short video below that you can watch together to softly introduce discussions.

Dove Real Beauty Productions recently produced this short film, directed by Debbie Allen, to show the impact just one hour with a girl can make.

Learn more about the Dove Self Esteem project on the website here or follow the #HourWithHer hashtag on social media.