Saturday, April 25, 2015

Five Must-Do's for a Carnival Cruise

Hubbs and I went on a cruise to Mexico recently to celebrate my 30th birthday. It was amazing! We had so much fun. We went to Cozumel and Progreso through Carnival. If you're planning a Carnival cruise, I have a few "musts" for you:

  1. You MUST get the "seasick patch." We didn't get one, but we had everything else for sea-sickness. Well, our second day (first full day at sea) into the cruise, Hubbs got sick and not just a little. He took Dramamine pills, wore Sea-bands, and even used some essential oils that were supposed to help with nausea/motion sickness. Nothing worked. Long story short, we got a patch from a fellow passenger, and it saved our trip! Even if you don't think you'll need them, get the patch just in case. You'll be glad you did!
  2. If you're prone to motion sickness, book a cabin toward the middle of the ship. We were in the front of the ship, with a porthole view, and it was rocky as hell! We could barely stand or get dressed and wanted to get out of the cabin ASAP. It wasn't so bad when lying down, so sleeping wasn't much of an issue for me (my husband would say otherwise). 
  3. If you are a heavy drinker, get the Cheers drinking package once on board. When we averaged it out, we figured to come out ahead, we had to drink approximately 10 drinks each day. They limit you to 15/person/day. We are occasional drinkers (I have maybe a bottle of wine a week, he drinks even more seldom than that), and felt we had to push ourselves to come out ahead. We did end up making it worthwhile and it was certainly nice to have one less thing to worry about, but there were a couple of times we just had way too much to drink in order to do so. If this isn't an issue for you, get the package. Not sure if we'll purchase the Cheers package again, but we sure had fun!
  4. Shop around. It's not necessary to book your excursions through the cruise line. They jack up the price all for the "added security" of getting back to the boat on time. In all honesty, the other guys will get you there, too. They know that one bad review can ruin them, so they want to get you back to your boat on time, and ensure you enjoy yourself during your stay. You give good reviews, they continue to offer decent prices on excursions. The trick is to do your research. Look on cruising websites like Cruise Critic and find Facebook groups for your cruise. You can find reviews on excursions and excursion websites alike. Decide which ones you want to do, and which company is the best one to book through. Sometimes you might actually find it's cheaper to go through the cruise line, but for the excursions we wanted, we discovered that it was best to go another route. 
  5. Let loose and have fun! Do something you normally wouldn't do. You're on vacation, so act like it. Belt it out at karaoke. Participate in an audience participation game. Shake your groove thing on the dance floor. It's not like you'll ever see these people again, so what if you make a fool of yourself? You're on vacation!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Breaking Out of the Box

My son is a boy. He's a rough and tumble, kind and gentle, wonderful boy. He likes cars and ninjas and those camo pants that I abhor. He sleeps with his stuffed animals and plays pretend with his sister. He loves to accessorize and has fun painting Mama's nails and fixing Mama's hair. My son is a boy.

My daughter's a girl. She loves making bracelets and singing in choir. She plays video games and collects Pokemon cards. She hates brushing her hair, doesn't mind getting dirty, and gets along better with boys than she does other girls. My daughter's a girl.

Society keeps telling my kids who to be and what they should wear, play with, and say. My son is only six and yet my husband and I already find ourselves correcting the voices that tell him what boys are "supposed to" do and say and play with and watch on tv. My daughter is only nine, and is struggling with her peers' sneering at her for playing with the boys, reading books, and drawing anime characters on her notebook.

I hate stereotypes. Those tiny boxes, so small you feel trapped and confined in there. Yet, when someone puts you in, it can be so difficult to find your way out again. People are different. We are, by definition, not cut from the same mold. What works for one, doesn't work for all, and what is pleasant for one, can be despicable to another. My husband likes pickles, and I cannot stand the smell of them, much less their sour taste and slimy interior. If this difference can be accepted, so, too, can the differences in gender roles.

When women in the U.S. first wanted to wear pants instead of dresses and skirts, we were balked at by men and even other women who considered the choice insane and far too liberal. Now we wear pants, shorts, capris, and everything in-between, and no one bats an eye. My hope is that one day my children and their children will see the same tolerance when it comes to the toys they play with and the people they love.

Let's break the rules and let children be themselves. Let them be children. Why take away their freedoms simply because they are young? I say, if little Johnny wants to play with a doll and wear fairy wings, then he should be allowed to do so without strangers batting an eye. If Suzy wants to dress up as Spiderman and save the princesses instead of being one, more power to her. Let the children like what they like, and you know what? Perhaps they won't be so screwed up once they reach adulthood.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Talk it out

I used to subscribe to the thought that some things are better left unsaid. It was worn like a comfortable jacket. If I encountered a dispute, instead of saying what I wanted to say or expressing my opposition, I would just slip on the jacket of silence. It was easier to suppress those feelings than to hurt someone else or get into an argument. Right?

Girls are taught from a young age that it's rude to argue. Nice girls keep their heads down and stay out of trouble. Women can't be leaders. It's not natural. It's against God's plan. I was told at a young age that I couldn't become president of our country. Women don't lead men. Women can only lead other women. Men are the natural leaders that God has selected and women are to be silent partners; lead by their [male] spouses and submissive to their guidance. After all, Adam knows best. But, I digress...

It took years after being grown and married to realize that my emotions are my own. My thoughts are meant to be shared. It's perfectly normal and natural to feel. If I am angry, I can vent to someone. Better yet, I can actually walk up to the person I have issues with and explain to him that he has made me angry and why! What a concept. And you know what? Most of the time, just doing that - talking - fixes the problem (Whoa).

I can also be happy and proud of who I am. If I accomplish something - small or great - it's ok to be proud of it. I no longer have qualms about sharing my accomplishments or the goals I've met. I also have come to realize that I can't rely on someone else to make me feel happy. I create my own happiness. It comes from within and from without. I have to focus on what makes me happy and go after it. Nothing can stand in my way but me. That said, I no longer allow anyone to downplay my happiness or to tell me that sharing it is in any way harmful to them or to someone else. No. My accomplishments are about me. They don't say anything about you, unless you're directly involved.

Some things are better left spoken.

I disagree with your point.
I have something great happening in my life.
I am frustrated. Hurt. Sad.
I am concerned. Excited. Overwhelmed.
I am bisexual. Gay. Questioning.
I'm not that person you think I am.

Hang up that jacket. Hang it up for good. It's good to talk about things you're going through. It's cathartic. It's therapeutic. It's wonderful. And if more people would feel comfortable talking about the good and the bad in their lives, I'm convinced there would be fewer suicides in this world. I'm convinced that mankind would be nicer as a whole. Bullies might become something of the past. Depression would become a distant illness.

Of course, in order for the whole talking thing to work out, we need someone who's willing to listen.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

"Do Your Research"

Ah, the vaccines vs autism argument. I wish I could leave it alone, but I can't. Some people will continue to believe what they want to believe, no matter what evidence they are shown to the contrary.

Today, I overheard as a first-time dad was told by a stranger that he needed to "watch out for that MMR vaccine" with his newborn. I looked over at the guy and said nonchalantly, "Nah, you're ok. Get the vaccine." Apparently the antivaxxer didn't like that much. She proceeded to tell him that he needed to do his "research" (because she's obviously done hers) and that it affects about one in fifty. "Actually," I informed her, "Studies have shown that autism may be linked to other factors (such as gut bacteria). There's no real evidence to prove that the MMR vaccine or any other vaccines cause autism." She went back and forth with me a bit, as I countered each of her points calmly and with a smile, then turned to the new dad and warned him once again to do his own research, to which he responded, "I'm pretty sure my wife has done all of the research she can." I can only hope that by that he meant, So we're going to guard our kid against these fatal diseases, thank you very much. 

A friend of mine put it perfectly when she said, "Even if I didn't know better, I'd rather take my chances with vaccines causing autism than to have my kid die of polio. Autism I can handle. A dead child, not so much." So many parents fail to realize how terrible these diseases of the not-so-distant past really were. With the rise of misinformation and scare tactics, we're starting to see once eradicated diseases making a comeback in the U.S. Measles, mumps, and rubella are nothing to laugh at. They are serious diseases with serious consequences. As are polio, diphtheria, and the like. It's true that some of these illnesses are treatable, but the chances for serious complication or death is too great and the victims suffer through awful symptoms. Why anyone would risk contracting any of these is beyond me. I certainly couldn't fathom watching my child suffer through them.

We need to continue to vaccinate our children for sake of herd immunity. Infants, chemotherapy patients, and others with weak immune systems need the safety of herd immunity since their bodies cannot fight illness as easily as ours can.

If you are reading this and you still aren't convinced, please, do your own research. Read results from reliable sources and then determine your stance on this issue. In fact, here are a few to get you started:

Autism Speaks
Center for Disease Control and Prevention
Autism Science Foundation

Thursday, October 2, 2014

It Gets Better

I used to be that mom. The one in denial. The mom that looked at other moms with contempt and whispered, "Do you see her? Seriously, what is she thinking?" I couldn't see that she was me. I didn't want to believe that her struggles were the same as mine. The truth is, we've all been "there" at one point or another as parents. I say "parents" because moms aren't the only ones who have a hard time. Dads don't often get the credit they deserve for putting up with the amount of crap they do.

My kids are older now. Old enough to know better. Old enough to not throw tantrums anymore. Old enough to pour their own cereal and tie their own shoes. My kids are not perfect, oh no. Not by any means. But they are no longer the toddlers they once were.

I saw myself the other day in the checkout line. T-shirt and dirty jeans. Hair in a messy half-up, half-fallen down pony. Exhausted but still smiling. She had one child riding in the cart and the other "helping" her push the cart. The older one was whining, "Pleeeeease, Mommy! Can I have...?" The toddler in the basket was crying, blankie in hand, sippy cup on the floor. And I thought, Hang in there, Momma. It gets better.
Then I heard it: the not-so-quiet whisper.

-"Someone can't control her kids."
-"Mmhmm. Wonder where their daddy is?"
-"I dunno, but those kids need a firm hand, that's for sure."



I can't tell you how many times I've heard the same lines over and over. Older generations, younger generations. Everyone does it. Everyone knows the "best" way to care for a child, discipline a child, soothe a child. What we fail to recognize is how different each child can be. What works for yours might not work for mine and vice versa. If you have children, you know how exhausting life can be when you're at wit's end and down to your last package of diapers. Does anyone want to go shopping with a young child in tow? Lord, no. But it becomes a necessary evil in those moments. So, we drag ourselves away from the piles of laundry and hunt down our car keys, then rush to the store, thinking, We'll only be a few minutes. I just need to pick up some x, y, z. And we almost always end up at home afterwards, collapsing onto the couch after carefully setting down the sleeping baby in the car seat, and remember, Crap. We're nearly out of baby wipes. 

So I walked over to the mom in the checkout line, handed her the dropped sippy cup, smiled and said, "What beautiful kids! You're doing a great job. Keep it up." She mouthed a thank-you, and smiled back as if my non-judgment meant the world to her. 

It's Been Awhile

It's been a few years since my last blog post. So many things have changed, yet so many things have stayed the same. It's been a wild and bumpy ride to where we are, but I'm loving my life and finally feel like writing again.  In the past few years, we've moved, changed our views on lots of things, and grown physically and psychologically. I'm working for the first time since we've been married, Hubbs is working less, and our kids are both in school. I'm so much more alive now than I was before. I am happier and more outgoing. I am less worried about things and more "let's see what happens!" So...? Let's see what happens! 

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Ten things I've learned from my kids

My kids have taught me a lot about life and how to deal with certain situations. My guess is, even those of you without kids will enjoy these jewels of wisdom!

1. It's never too early for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
2. Spill your drink on the table? No problem.. that's what straws are for.
3. Don't sweat the small stuff. Lose a sock in the McDonald's play place? Eh, at least we still have our shoes this time.
4. Adopt a new mantra: "Dirt washes off. Dirt washes off."
5. When life gives you lemons, hit them with a big green bat!
6. Be prepared for anything. (A few items I make sure to have in my purse at all times: pens, paper, band-aids, Hotwheels cars, small toys, gum or candy, hand sanitizer, tissues, coins... My purse is not my own.)
7. Coffee is a must for a tired Mom.
8. Coffee + two year olds, not so great.
9. When someone steals something from you, the best thing to do is scream your head off.
10. If all is quiet, either someone is asleep or someone is making a mess.