Things I wish we brought with us to Universal Studios

Planning a trip can take weeks, sometimes months. I like to plan a couple months in advance for trips, especially big trips, like going to Florida for a week. But sometimes you just have to go on random road trips. Like deciding Friday afternoon that you want to go to Florida for a week, and get a 5 day pass to Universal Studios, and leave Sunday morning at 4am to drive 24 hours straight there. Oh, and doing all that with 3 little kids.

I tend to over pack. Ask my husband, it drives him nuts. I’m the person that packs 20 pairs of underwear, 15 outfits, and 3 pairs of shoes, for a 1 week trip knowing full well I can do laundry there, and won’t even wear half of what I packed, and only actually use 1 pair of shoes. So when I had about 24 hours to pack for a family of 5 for 1 week in Florida, it was a bit crazy around here. And I forgot some stuff. Even with all my lists I made.

So here is what I wish I had brought with us. That in hindsight, may seem obvious.

1. Extra sunscreen. Especially a bottle to actually put in my backpack that I brought to Universal Studios with us every day.

2. Umbrellas, or better yet ponchos. It rains in Florida, a lot. One day when we were at Universal Studios, we got caught outside in a Tropical Storm! There was no shelter expect a patio umbrella with 8 other people under it. In the middle of a Tropical Storm. A storm that lasted 30 minutes, soaked us all, and knocked down palm trees. Oh and I should mention that my daughter is scared of storms. Not out greatest moment.

3. Fan water bottles. I have two at home. I got them for like $4 each. But I forgot them at home. They would have been super awesome to have in the Florida heat walking around an amusement park all day. And yes the do sell some at Universal. But they were smaller, and the ones I saw were $15. I seriously could not justify buying them. We made do with ice cream and lots of slushes.

4. Stroller. Yes my daughter is 5. So let’s hear it mommy shamers. No my kid doesn’t use a stroller on a regular basis. But spending all day, every day for 5 days, at Universal Studios, in that heat, chasing after her big brothers, a stroller was nice to have. Plus I could hang bags on it. So yes, I did give in and bought one of those cheap little ones from a department store. When the cost of one of those was the same as renting a stroller for 1 day from Universal, it made sense to buy one. We found her a cute one with a canopy and a basket underneath. Perfect for holding extra bottles of water, and putting bags on.

5. A hat and sunglasses. I managed to pack a hat for everyone else in the family, but me. And I managed to pack all the sunglasses, expect for my 13 year old. Not my finest moment.

6. Extra hand sanitizer. I love those pocket size ones, but they can be lost easily. It would have been really nice if I had thrown in the extra one like I had debated about before leaving the house.

7. Bathing Suit. We didn’t actually go to the water park, but there is a splash pad and water play area in one of the kids areas. I did pack extra clothes, so that was good. I just never thought to throw in a bathing suit.

8. Change. Pennies and quarters. My daughter kept finding those machines that you put a penny in and and some quarters and you get some thing with a design on it out of the machine. I can’t for the life of me think of what they are called at the moment.

9. Portable charger for my phone. Between taking pictures, videos, using the Universal Studios app, sending pictures to grand parents, my battery took a hit each day.

10. Wipes/ Hand wipes. For messy faces and hands covered in melted ice cream and chocolate. So much easier than having to take them into a crowded bathroom.

 

Having listed all the things I forgot, you would think I was horrible at packing, have no idea what I was doing, and that we didn’t have a great time. But none of that is true. We had an amazing time. And I do know how to pack. I just was very forgetful this time on such short notice for a trip!

So hopefully this list will help you, and me, next time!

~ Michelle

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Cheers To 2017

2017 came in with full force. And not a very good force. I had every intention of starting the year out with an awesome kick ass blog post about how I was going to rock this year. I was going to have a New Years Resolution. I was going to have a focus word. It was going to rock. Completely and totally rock your socks off.

Then reality came. On January 1st I lost an aunt to cancer. Another aunt was in hospital (she is out and better now). And yet another Aunts health is failing. It has been a lot to deal with. My anxiety has been so bad. So hard to deal with at times. This invisible monster is leaving visible scars.

This year I have no idea what will happen. I have no idea what my goals are. I do know that whatever happens, I want to make the most of it. So cliche isn’t it?! But it is true. 2017 is already proving how precious life is, how important it is to take advantage of every day, tell people you love them, let go of things, move forward no matter how scary. My anxiety and depression monsters will not control and dominate me this year. Their lies will not weaken me. (Easier said than done!)

This weekend I will be traveling to the states with my parents and my toddler. Sounds easy enough right? Tell that to my anxiety. I am having non stop anxiety and panic attacks about it. This will be the longest my toddler has been away from my husband. She will not be happy to be away from her daddy and brothers for so long. And I have never had to take her to a funeral before. All of this causing so much anxiety on top of the grieving. The truth of it all? None of this is about me, despite all my anxiety crushing me, this is about a life lost and going to honour this persons amazing life. Like I said before, life is too short, I will move forward no matter how scary. I will face my anxiety monster head on and go on this trip with my daughter.

Days after getting back my daughter has a pre-op appointment and then the next week she will have surgery. My anxiety is not giving me a break this month so far. I will not let this monster have me. My daughter needs me, my sons need me, my husband needs me. Heck, I need me!

So maybe I do have a goal? Kick my monsters butts? Or maybe my goal is more simply put, to take it one day at a time, to survive, to rise above and soar?

Despite not having clear goals written down, not having a focus word, despite the hard start to 2017, I will try my damnedest to rock this year.

~ Michelle

A Weekend Of Gilmore Girls And Christmas Lights

Hello New Day.
Hello New Week.
Hello New Adventure.

HelloMonday

I’m in a weekend hangover / Gilmore Girls hangover this morning. Oh Gilmore Girls, how you mess with my emotions! I’m still trying to figure out exactly how I felt about it, so much of it bugged me, but over all I loved it. I have always wanted to live in Stars Hollow. Seriously, I have always thought it was the best little town ever. Oh! Kirk and his pet pig! Loved it!

Back to reality.

This weekend besides obsessing over Gilmore Girls, we took a wonderful last minute crazy drive down to Niagara Falls on Saturday night. We looked at the Christmas lights, it was our first time going there with our daughter. We used to do it every single year but we missed out on the last 3 years. I cried when my toddler declared “Mama! I love this! I love the lights!” Her excitement, oh man, it was just what my heart needed. Everyone in the car totally fed off of her enjoyment! It was magical. However the drive straight back home was a bit much. Sunday I was so tired. Clearly I am getting too old for these kind of adventures.

Speaking of Sunday. Our Sunday was filled with Christmas movies and finishing up the Christmas decorations outside! It was wonderful. Perfect family day. Till my husband showed just how much faith he has in me. I dragged him out to the store real quick, I wanted some plants to put on the windowsill in the kitchen. I picked out two of the cutest little plants (yes plants can be cute) and my husband declared “How about you just get one, and see how that goes.” As if I will make the plant burst into flames or instantly die as soon as I bring it in the house. Day 1 with plant, and it is still alive and not burnt. Just so you know.

Today I am ready to take on the week. I worked out this morning. I cleaned up, I organized. I dreamed big. And now my toddler is completely trashing my house, or as she says she’s “showing off her toys”. Now to clean up again, and then again, and maybe some more after that.

I started out the day wanting to write out some goals. Then I sat down to to do it, and I just wasn’t feeling it. I really have to be in the right mood for it, or there is no point. Today I am running on pure determination and sugar and caffeine. Lots of caffeine.

So now to take on the rest of the week, and to keep my plant alive!

~ Michelle

 

 

Post Vacation Reality

Hello New Day.
Hello New Week.
Hello New Adventure.

HelloMonday

We are back from our trip, everything is finally put away, re-organized and tans have already started to fad. Wait a minute. Did we even go on a trip?! Months and months of planing, and just like that it is over in a flash.

The trip itself was some what surreal. It was our first big family trip as a family of 5. Something not too long ago I didn’t think would be possible. Not to mention when did finally make it to Florida, after 26.5 hours in the car (my toddler only had two 2-hour naps that whole drive!), we stayed at my Grandparents house. This was the first time stepping foot in their house since both of them passed. It was so sad. I couldn’t help picturing them there, sitting in their chairs, watching their great-grandchildren play. At the same time it was also nice to feel so close to them again. It had been 4 years since I last visited that house. But this was the first time there since both had passed and since my daughter was born. My daughter that neither one ever got to meet.

I’m still trying to sort through my emotions from the trip, and all the fun we had. So much happened. It was wonderful to spend a week alone, just the 5 of us, going on adventures every day and spending lots of time in the pool! Time spent in the pool is always a good time. Ocean time, boat rides, trolly rides, and dolphins. So much fun, so little time. However if we don’t spend that much time in the car again any time soon, I will be very happy! 26.5 hours straight down, and 3 days, no wait 4 days back in the car? Either way it was a lot of time in the car! A lot. Thankfully my toddler was happy in the car, until the very end when she threw up every where in the car. Never a dull moment in parenthood.

Now the kids are back to school, it is just my toddler and me at home. No road trips on the horizon, but adventures are around every corner and I can’t wait for our next one, whatever it may be.

~ Michelle

Almost Time For Our Road Trip

Hello New Day.
Hello New Week.
Hello New Month.
Hello New Adventure.

HelloMonday

Time is quickly approaching for our week long trip to Florida. I wrote about a million lists and started packing, but that was all put on hold when my two boys and husband got sick this weekend. Fingers crossed they don’t pass it on to my daughter and me. And even more fingers crossed our trip is still on. After months and months of saving and planning I would hate to see it fall apart now.

This week is all about survival and getting all the germs out of my house. Any anxiety I had about this trip before got multiplied by a million when sickness was added to this mix, so I will be working and deal with that this week. Also I will need lots of coffee. Because right now coffee is my very best friend. Coffee makes me feel like I can accomplish anything, it believes in me, it loves me and I love it.

Now back to the trip and packing. Have I ever mentioned that I hate packing? Especially when I am packing for myself, and 4 other people! We are only going for a week but by my list and the things I already have packed you would think we were moving! I didn’t even put this much effort and pack this much stuff when my husband and I went to Kenya for two weeks! Also I am pretty sure that about 60% of the stuff I am packing we don’t actually need. But I like to be prepared. I would rather pack it and have it with me and end up not needing it than needing something and not having it. But still… Holy Crow! Its a lot of stuff!

How do you entertain 3 kids in the car for over 24 hours straight?! Including one toddler that hates the car?! Well stay tuned and I will show you what I have come up with. Honestly, the thought of all this scares me. But I know it will be fine. My parents did it with me and my siblings, and that was long before in car dvd players and iPods and laptops and all that, and some how we all survived. I’m sure we will too. I just don’t know how right now…

~ Michelle

 

 

Relieving My Anxiety For Our Road Trip

I was once brave enough to travel with a 6 month old from Canada to Austria for a week during the Christmas holidays while 2 months pregnant. Ok in all fairness the Grandparents came with me. But my son was such an easy baby, it was almost unreal. He slept all night and simply stayed on his schedule, as if there was no time change. 3pm here was 3pm there. And when we got back, right back to schedule. No issue at all.

Then when my boys were 5 & 6 years old we drove down to Florida. We drove straight through and the trip was wonderful. Again, my kids were so easy to travel with.

Now… Well now I have 3 kids and my youngest, my sweet girl, my girl she hates sleep and hates the car. For whatever crazy reason we thought we would take a road trip to Florida again. 

My anxiety is on high. Honestly I am terrified of this trip! A very small part of me wants to cancel the trip because, well anxiety. Anxiety is evil. But I will not let my anxiety win! I want this to be a wonderful fun family trip! I want this to be a family trip to remember, and not because it turned out like a Stephen King horror movie!


I am trying to relieve my anxiety before and hopefully during this trip. Which is near impossible, but I will try. I have been writing lists. Planning and more planning. Planning so much gives me a false hope of being in charge. I have bought and made my toddler new toys. Bought new movies (THANK YOU in-car dvd player!). And I’m still coming up with activities she can do in the car. I am also doing the same thing for my boys. I am making them a travel binder (I will share that all with you when its done). And I am also making a travel bin for the boys ( will share that when its done as well).

Planning and packing can only take me so far. For other ways I am trying to relieve my anxiety right now is to eat healthy. Junk food may taste good, but it always makes me feel worse after.

Meditation. Well not really, three kids, more like I am taking time to be quiet, to concentrate on my breathing. Counting to 10, 100, or a million, whatever works in the moment. Breathe in the good thoughts, out with the bad. All that. It may sound cheesy, but it works. And if it works, then it is a good thing!

Music. Music can speak to us, move us, energize us, calm us. Music can do so much! I have been working on new playlists. One to relax and calm me, one to energize me, and of course a fun dance party one for the family. My daughter loves music and loves to dance, and it always puts her in a good mood, so music for this trip is a must!

Visualizing. This can work both ways for me. I can visualize the most relaxing trip ever, sitting on the beach, watching and listening to the waves. Or I can let my thoughts wonder and end up picturing all hell breaking loose.

Journalling. I love to journal. Music and writing are my outlet. So I have been journalling a lot and I will for sure be packing my journal with me. Lets just hope I don’t get carsick when I am writing in it.

Sleep. I would say get lots of sleep. Sleep is so important. However, like I have stated my daughter hates sleep. So getting plenty of sleep is out of the question.

Do you have anxiety? How do you help relieve it?

I’m sure as the time comes closer I will need to do these things more often. For now they are working. And that makes me happy. Happy wife, happy life, and all that jazz.

~ Michelle

 

Things To Pack For The Cottage

Seems like this is a big part of summer for a lot of people, is a trip to the cottage. Whether you own one, rent one, or visit with friends and family. At some point a lot of people will face the hours of traffic for a bit of relaxing and fun this summer.

Here is a small list of things to make sure you pack before you spend hours in traffic.

1. Sunglasses, Sunscreen, and a Hat. Don’t want to get a sunburn on your first day out on the lake just to suffer for the rest of your vacation! Protect your skin!

2. Bathing Suits and clothes. This should be obvious, unless of course you like to skinny dip, or a nudist, in which case, skip this one.

3. Books/Magazines. IF you happen to get a few minutes to yourself, maybe after dark while the rest of the house is sleeping, or early in the morning, it’s always nice to get a chance to catch up on your reading (or gossip depending on what magazine you buy!), or to read if you get stuck in traffic. Also nice to take kids books to make sure you still get to read your kids a bed time story.

4. Life Jacket. Especially if you have kids. Always make sure you have safe, proper sized life jackets, especially if you are boating. Always good to have one on the kids all the time when they are around water.

Cottage

5. Masks/Snorkel. This was a must for my boys when they went to the cottage. They spent so much time floating around with their Life Jackets on, Masks and Snorkel watching “the under water world”.

6. Food/Drinks. And snacks for the car! No fun to show up to a cottage just to realize you have to go back out for food. Come prepared! Meal plan! No point wasting time out shopping for food when you could be rest by the lake.

7. Stuffed Animals! This was my kids idea! They said I had to put this on the list. We took some of their stuffed animals with us. A little piece of home to help make them feel comfortable and sleep better at night! When they kids sleep well at night, everyone sleeps well!

8. Toys/Games. If you have kids, and you happened to get rained out. Make sure you have something to pass the time. Or even in the evening before bed. We played so many card games. It was a lot of fun and always a good laugh.

9. Water Toys/ Pool Noodles. Sometimes even a lake needs a little extra fun. Or if there happens to be a small little beach area where you are, always nice to have a few toys handy for kids to play with.

10. Flash Light and extra batteries for it. Especially if you have a kid like my little one that had to keep turning on his flash light as soon as he thought it was getting dark out. Also super fun for making shadow puppets on the wall with at bed time! And glow sticks! Put glow sticks on the kids once it gets dark out, they think its fun, and it helps keep track of them in the dark if you happen to be out star-gazing.

11. Bug spray, After Bite, and Benadryl. Nature hates me, so these items are a must for me and my family!

What are your must have items for the cottage? 

~ Michelle