5 Things I did to make Packing for a Family Vacation Easier

5 Things I did to make Packing for a Family Vacation Easier

I always look forward to family vacations. As much as it is stressful and packing for four people is extremely hard, I love the feeling of having that family bonding and just being away from the everyday hustle of life. I think it is the only time that I actually get a time out from doing house chores. I love that feeling that once in a while I could sit early in the morning and only think about  going out.

But before we head off to the fun part there is always the preparation part that bugs me for months. A lot of times I work before my vacation and there is this dreadful feeling of packing and not bringing enough things when we leave the house. Since I have packed so many times, I learned a few tricks that made things easier for me this time.

1. Make a list

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I know this is old school but many times we take for granted sitting down and just writing everything to remind ourselves and free our minds of worries. I love to write everything but there are times that I wrote so many things that I get disorganized and I don’t know where to find things that  I previously wrote. So, this time I got a really nice notebook that is just a right size. The very first thing I do is I write my main to do list in no particular order and just add on things as  I remember it. Then, I break it down to different categories with details, like what outfits to wear, the activities and things to bring.

2. Pack Ahead

Yes, this is very important. I remember I had so many vacations that I did not sleep the night before because I am still packing frantically. Although this is still a struggle for me, I actually start packing days before our trip. I don’t think rushing on the last minute packing for four people is a very good idea.

3. Use Luggage organizers

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I became a big fan of organizers when I had kids. Their stuff are too small that you can easily misplace it and even worse you tried packing everything perfectly and end up in a mess as soon as you get to your destination. So, to save me from tears and stress I use luggage organizer cubes and put my kids outfits on separate cubes with labels in it if I cannot see what is inside. I usually use the mesh materials so it is easier to find things. When we get to our hotel, I just take it out and load it in the drawers.

4. Make space for Mommy Stuff

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This is just me having a “me” space in the luggage. I think I am more efficient when I can find my things right away. It just saves me so much time when I can get ready for the day without fussing on where I put my clothes or night creams without unpacking everybody’s things. What I did is set one side of the luggage for my clothes and essentials instead of splitting it into two different locations. As I have said I just want a quiet  morning and be ready for the day when I am in vacation.

5. Be Flexible

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I know there are times that no matter how hard I plan our outfits and things to bring there are just moments that everything does not fit in the luggage. It is a struggle because I am obsess about being prepared, I always have this fear inside of me that I am not ready enough. But this time, I embrace that worry and just decided to be flexible. I declared to myself that I am not bringing 5 large bags with 2 kids and a stroller. I just accepted that not having too much is enough. If everything fails there is always laundry. If I forget something, there is always a store to buy it if I really need to.

It sounds crazy that I am packing for everyone but for me I am more at peace when I am prepared. But this does not mean that I will do this forever, one of my dreams as a parent is to teach my kids to be independent and my wish is someday when they are old enough I hope they can pack on their own. Or at least be able to choose their clothes and what they need to bring. Although it’s amazing how my older son participated on choosing his outfits and helped me put things together. I think that is a good start. With all this, I still think that we should not forget what is important and that is family vacation is a time to be together and have fun.

 

Things that Inspired Me in New York

Things that Inspired Me in New York

I love traveling. I mean it in such a way that when I start making reservations and sitting down to make my to do list, I feel like my flight is already tomorrow. I even love packing and making sure everything is organize and has everyone’s name on it. But let me say that I am not crazy adventurous either, I will not jump off a cliff or do anything that will make me nervous. I am really a simple person, I love sightseeing and just discovering my new environment. Even sitting down to have coffee and chocolate on a different place makes me happy. My husband is my total opposite and I think that creates balance and sometimes misunderstanding that can be easily fixed. But I think what I am really trying to say is I just love the feelings and memories that traveling gives me.

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Before I give you the impression that family trips is a breeze, it is not. It is truly challenging and believe it or not I have prayed every minute to assure myself that everything will be okay. I would like to complain that traveling is extra hard with kids, but busy New York just won’t stop inspiring me. It reminds me so much of a place where I grew up. It’s crowded, everything seems to spell h-a-r-d-w-o-r-k but everyone is surviving. It reminds me so much of my old self. So, here I am writing and sharing the things that made my trip easier and worth it.

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The coffee shop that had a library. I don’t think I need to explain where the inspiration is coming from. It is just as simple as I love coffee and sitting down with a book. It transport me to a different place, it makes me forget the bad things and later on when I come back I have a different look on things.

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The busy Times square. It was truly crowded and with 2 kids I don’t know how we survived. But looking at every corner you will see a lot of families with little ones traveling together, which is very comforting. But what really got to me is I suddenly remember my college self walking in the crowded side walk in my university. The 18 year old Vanessa who laughs on every hard lesson, failed test and break up. It’s funny how it reminded me that I can laugh on anything because I can be strong if I choose to.

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The picture perfect boat ride to the statue of liberty. How can I not be inspired by such a beautiful sight. I felt like I have a gigantic post card right in front of me. It was breathtaking. All I could say to God is thank you for this opportunity. Being grateful just lifts my spirit and recharge me from the everyday stress of being a mom.

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The Skyscrapers. Reach for your dreams it says. Nothings is impossible. Just always look up and find what you are looking for. I am usually embarrass to look up on buildings, it’s not like I have not seen it before but I just can’t stop myself. I think I had my mouth open too at how amazing it is. I must be on daze, every single building seems to have it’s own character and it just won’t stop letting me know where I am right now.

As I have said I love traveling. It was one of my favorite thing to do, even a taxi ride from our house to the mall or park while the rain is pouring outside gives me a wonderful feeling back then. But now, it’s just a peaceful place for me, away from the daily stress that life gives me. It actually makes me love more what I do everyday as a mom and wife, I guess everybody needs a little time out once in a while.

How to Pursue what you Love when You are a Busy Mom

How to Pursue what you Love when You are a Busy Mom

This week is a week of learning and growing for me. I would have to say that more than learning it is looking back to the things I love to do before I became a mom and a wife. It is a picture of me bored in class with a pen and a notebook, lettering the name of my crush. It is me drawing flowers and butterflies as I pretend to listen as my teacher explains how to find X. It’s funny how I started being more dedicated now that I don’t have all the time in the world. But I think not having enough time made me realize that doing what you love is important too.

So, finally I committed to it, I quickly ordered my books and pens, enrolled in a class and every night I sit down and just be my 13 year old self. It’s refreshing to find a part of yourself that you missed for a long time. Although there are times that I wonder what am I doing as my hand aches from practicing. There is a mountain of laundry that I need to do and here I am probably wasting my time. Then, it hits me back with a thought that even though I am a busy mom I should pursue what I love. Here are the 3 things that kept me going.

1.Make time for it!

I have to start with this one because I have a million excuses on why I cannot sit down and practice my writing or draw that flower. I don’t think there will be any time for what I love to do if I don’t make one for it. So, this week every night when the kids are sleeping I dedicate 30 minutes of my time practicing. I don’t think it really matters how much time you put in, the most important thing of all is you did it. You can put in 15 minutes, 10 minutes or even 5 minutes, JUST DO IT!

2. Focus

This is one of the most important lesson I learned on being productive. The temptation of Facebook and Instagram is so easy to give in to. Or even that mountain of laundry or that urge to finally sit down and watch TV. I could list a hundred things that can get me all distracted but I think the point is STOP and FOCUS. I think it is truly obvious that I don’t have time and wasting another 30 minutes browsing the internet or pondering whether I should get off the couch does not help. What I did was put away my phone, be in a quiet place and just concentrate on getting things done. It will surprise you how much you can accomplish being focus on such a short time.

3. Do it with a friend

If everything fails and you can’t find the heart to motivate yourself. Try doing it with a friend and it will give you a boost. Who will not choose to do what you love and at the same time enjoying it with a friend. This week I enrolled in a cooking class with a friend, cooking really stresses me out but having someone who have more experience than you and love cooking is all the push that I need to allow myself to learn something new. This reminded me that when I cannot find the heart to start, sometimes a little push and inspiration from people you love gives you the change that you are looking for.

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I believe that the most beautiful thing about this week is I discovered that it is possible to look back in your passion and it’s never too late to start over again. I also realize that there is always room to grow and it is up to us whether we embrace it or just continue having excuses. As for me, I will stop having excuses, I will just do it and just embrace that achy hand.

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PS. Got these books at Amazon.com just in case you want to try too. Also, don’t hesitate to share what gets you going to pursue what you love to do. Let’s inspire each other! 🙂

 

Always Choose Love

Always Choose Love

Have you ever found yourself deciding whether to stay calm and collected or yell out of frustration to your 3 year old?

I did.

It is one of the hardest thing in the world. How can I be so tough over someone so little and still learning what the world is all about especially their feelings. But sometimes I have to admit that I am human too and I have my limits even though I am a mom.

You see, I grew up knowing that following your parents and elderly is important. I got spanked, I got yelled at and I experienced sitting down listening to an unending sermon of what I did wrong. There is no reasoning or tantrums can change that in the old times.

So here I am wondering how am I gonna do this. My 3 year old son is starting to learn that he has the right to speak up and be heard too. A lot of times all he says is no. No to going to school. No to vegetables. No to gym class. No to being nice.

The other day I went to his gym class. He was suppose to do things on his own and us parents should just watch. But, he decided to throw a fit and cried until I come sit next to him. I brought him to the restroom to calm him, and honestly, I am reaching my limit. How can he not listen when we had the talk before his class started. My mind is searching all the things I had learned from books and advises on what to say and do. I am panicking because nothing convinces him that he needs to do his class on his own. Finally, I gave in and just sat behind him as he do his exercises while crying. Then, something light up in my mind. What am I doing? He needs my support and love. Finally, I found the courage to give him what he truly needs. After he did his forward roll routine, I opened my arms and catch him as he came running. I gave him a hug and whispered, good job and  I am proud of you. Like magic, he became more confident and started doing things on his own. He even let me sit outside his class.

That was amazing. Many times in my head, I tell myself that I am the parent and I should show authority and power over my kids. Many times I end up being frustrated and disrespected. Then I was reminded by my son that day to always choose love. There is no greater power than love, it is a message to your child that you are there no matter what. That your love is far greater than all their fears and anxiety. So, everyday I promise to myself that I will choose love no matter what.

 

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How to start Your Day Right when You are a Busy Mom

How to start Your Day Right when You are a Busy Mom

I love mornings.

I love waking up early and just enjoying a cup of coffee and a book.

I think mornings are a sign of a new beginning and a reminder that life should not be wasted. Every day seems to be a second chance to be a better person than yesterday.

But it is so easy to waste mornings as mommy responsibilities drowns me as soon as I open my eyes. I do love being a mom. That is why I stopped making excuses instead I fill each day with determination to start my day right. I have read so many tips on how to start your day right but here are my top favorite things to do to jump start my mornings.

1.Get enough sleep

This is no secret. Having enough sleep changes a person perspective about life. Although every mom I know wants to sleep, the urge to finally sit down and be able to browse the internet when the kids sleeps seems to be strong. A lot of times I waste 2 to 3 hours just watching my shows and browsing Facebook. It is so easy to convince yourself to relax and  do nothing when the whole day you were on your feet, running around and constantly busy. Finally, I had to stop. I no longer want to wake up everyday crawling out of bed with a headache. Each night I carefully spend my time on things that are important and make it a point that I go to bed to get my 7 hours of sleep. It is still a work in progress but I am slowly getting there.

2. Plan your day

Yes, I make it a habit that I have my day planned for the next day. It is so easy to forget things when you wake up without a map of your day. Having a plan motivates me to get going. It also gives me the comfort that I will not forget appointments and things that needs to be done. Plus I get to plan a me time even if it’s just me sitting for 15 minutes reading a book. Though I have my day well planned there are times that I have to be flexible and ready for changes. If there is one thing I do best it is to be ready to accept things that I cannot change instead I always prepare myself to find a solution and not waste time crying over spilled milk.

3. Prepare

Another Yes. Get everyone’s outfit ready and involve the whole family in the process. Yes. Lunches and snacks should be ready. And yes, for having that diaper and school bag ready. I believe that being ahead is important, it is such a wonderful feeling when you can sit with the family and have breakfast together because you have prepared the things that you need for the day. Every night I spend that 15-30 minutes to put things together to save myself from the stress of the morning rush.

4. Eat  a Healthy Breakfast

Since having enough energy is important to complete my tasks, eating healthy is a must. I am a sugar junky, I will not deny that but since I learned to eat better especially for my mornings, I felt more motivated to get out of the house and be where I am suppose to be including the gym. I have been struggling to avoid that low energy moment, because I don’t think my kids really get it when I said I am tired. So, everyday I say good morning to eggs, wheat bread, fruits and coffee or tea. And don’t forget your water.

5. Pray/Meditate

There is not greater feeling than to have a moment to reflect and strengthen your inner self. Without stopping and seeing things more clearly, there seems to be no purpose in this busy life. I have to constantly remind myself that I am a mom and I am important to my family. By seeing who I am more than the chores and appointments, my love to what I do grows everyday and what a wonderful feeling it is that every time I hug my kids and my husband I can truly say that I love what I do and who I am.

 

 

 

Mom, Please put that Lipstick on

Mom, Please put that Lipstick on

When I was 17 years old, I met a girl who boldly said “You don’t have eyebrows, let’s fix that!” I did end up laughing with her because it’s true. I remembered after my high school yearbook picture got printed, I hid it right away, because I realized I looked weird and yes, it’s the eyebrows. Later on, that girl became my bestfriend throughout Nursing school. It started with the eyebrows then the eyeliner and the lipstick. Everyday I smile each time I remember the girl who changed how I look at myself in the mirror.

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When I started working as a nurse, I started in the day shift. In my mind, I am the first person who will get them ready for the day, I just don’t want to scare them or discourage them to go on just because I looked like I am tired already on the beginning of my shift. So, I did wake up earlier to put that make up on. I just want to be the right person to motivate them and make them feel that things will be okay.

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Then here comes motherhood. Giving an extra time to fix yourself is such a pain. I prefer to have that extra time to sleep or read my book, which does not happen. Instead I am greeted every morning with a kid sitting on me and saying “good morning, mom”. From the time I get up, it is all about taking care of the family. Long time ago I promised myself that I will get out of the door looking like I got everything together even if I have kids. I am truly having a hard time keeping that promise, a lot of times I don’t know myself anymore. I am like a machine and when everyone is asleep, I realize my day has gone by. That is a sad feeling but it is true.

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So, here I am reminding myself to put that lipstick on, it takes a minute. A minute of reminder that being beautiful in the outside is also important. A little time to actually look at yourself in the mirror and see your face light up. Nothing can beat a self talk, telling yourself that you got this and you will keep believing until that day comes.

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I will lie if I say that I do not miss sitting in front of the mirror taking all the time to put my make up on. But I see my face differently now, it is a mom surviving everyday. She only have a few minutes to be beautiful but in the eyes of her kids, she is super woman. Let’s love ourselves and let’s not give up.

 

My Mini Mat Story

My Mini Mat Story

Sitting down to eat seems to be a distant memory for me. Everyday I see myself running around in the kitchen like a storm. I can think of a million excuses to say but let me share my 3 challenges during meal times. First, running after my 3 year old who decides that sitting down to eat is not really the best thing to do. Second, cooking is like a math problem that I have to actually concentrate to solve, because most of the time one plus one is not the end of it when you are following a recipe. And, third, my 14 month old sometimes decides to play ball with food and that simply means that you will never know when an egg will come flying to you or to make things easier for him the whole plate.

But every mom is truly a super mom. There is nothing that will defeat us, as for me meeting the mini mat is one of my favorite thing during meal time. Aside from the fact that it’s truly sturdy and easy to clean, it came with all the good stuff like being BPA free, hypo-allergenic and does not harbor Bacteria. This little thing reminded me that, one, your kids can stick around during meal time when you actually sit down, just like it’s sticking or suction power to the high chair table. It is truly a learning experience when my son sat down the whole meal because mommy is eating and laughing with him.  Two, it separates food into portions, so they can clearly see their options. Same as we have options to be mad and miserable or to just let go of things we cannot control. And, three, since they have options (healthy choices of course), they have the power to choose what they eat. Yes, we have to remember and to teach out kids that we have the freedom to choose what we want to be in life.

As I always say one of the greatest strength of a mom is her love for her family. Every day is an adventure filled with challenges but the most beautiful thing about it is you get to appreciate little things that made every struggle easier to overcome.