10 Reasons You Need a Kid-Free Vacation

When’s the last time you took an out of state trip or even a stay-cation with just your spouse? Other than our awesome honeymoon in June of 2007, we really hadn’t been on a REAL vacation together. Last year, my husband was awarded a trip to the Bahamas for being an awesome salesman, but our youngest son Elijah was only 6 months at the time, and there was just no way I could leave him that early! I know, I have been accused of being a stalker mom a time or three, but I confess and wear it proudly! Not to mention he was still  exclusively breastfeeding and wasn’t yet on solid foods, refused pacifiers AND bottles, so who was watching that kid without going nuts?!  If anything other than sweet human milk from a warm soft bosom hit his palette, he would gag and shake his head profusely.

So, off to the Bahamas we went, towing along a stroller with his infant car seat attached, an infant carrier for the times he didn’t want to be in the stroller, a big overly filled diaper bag that had my shoulder begging for mercy, and an infant who had stomach pains due to being overly gassy for the first time in his life, go figure. He cried hysterically for the first 10 minutes straight on our flight, and I was met with the most evil are-you-serious glares to the point I wanted to burst into tears myself. And then I drugged him with benadryl and forced my boob in his mouth for the 3rd attempt because, I was just panicked. Overwhelmed. And it was a safe dosage. And it worked. Non-judgement zone, k?

Fast forward to this past April. My husband again made the Presidential Elite trip from being awesome, this time with the destination being Orlando, Florida! With our sons now being ages 6, 4, and almost 2, me being the over-concerned stalker mom ceased (ever so slightly) and I was determined to go on that trip kid-free! We did, and it was amazing, and here’s why:

  1. Traveling to and from the airport alone without children felt like a vacation in itself. We seriously could have hung out at the airport and turned around and went right back home and been legitimately refreshed. Being able to just carry your one carry-on, sit down, have some coffee and drink it while its still hot, and peacefully wait to board the plane without shushing, threatening, and reassuring overly excited kiddos while hauling an arsenal of tablets, coloring books, snacks, drinks, diapers, wipes, kleenex, and Benadryl, was just simply heavenly! Speaking of Benadryl, last year when we went to Florida with the kids, Caleb, the one who needs to be sedated the most, was the one who REFUSED the “medicine”. He knew it was a conspiracy! What a smart kid lol.
  2. Packing is a breeze and provides a renewed sense of excitement! When I packed for our trip, it wasn’t as daunting knowing that I didn’t have to write out and check off a super long list to ensure the boys had plenty of clothes and back up clothes. We only needed one large bag, and it was exciting to pack cute little outfits, heels, and dream of holding hands and walking along the beach in your cute little cover up and then surprising him with new “night wear”.  Even if none of that actually happened, its fun to imagine it while you pack lol!
  3. We could hang out as long as we wanted and sleep in as late as we wanted. On previous trips with the kids, we had to be conscious of nap times and bedtimes to prevent overly tired and cranky children. Being on vacation with children means you need a vacation from the vacation. But not when its just you two!  In Orlando, we hung out at the Universal City Walk and sang Karaoke til the wee hours in the morning. We felt like teens again!
  4. You don’t have to worry about car seats and car seat safety.  Our last vacation with the kids we had to decide between taking car seats and checking them in at the gate or renting them when we got there. We discovered renting them is ridiculously expensive and towing them along in the airport is just…annoying.
  5. Uninterrupted Quality Time with your Spouse. Its wonderful to be able to channel all of your focus and attention on your love. We were able to have a spa day together, soak in the jacuzzi, hang out at the pool, and just be “us”, which provided awesome opportunities for us to simply bond, laugh, and intimately converse and interact with one another without the demands of our little ones.
  6. Opportunity to Socialize and Commune With Other Adults. Our last real solo vacation happened on our honeymoon before we even had kids. I remember meeting and hanging out with other couples, hooking up, having dinner, and just being our social selves. We got to do that again.
  7. No toddlers squeezing in the middle of you between the hours of midnight and 3am and your husband resorting to the couch. No explanation needed.
  8. You can Read a Fictional Book Again of Your Choice. Who has time to read books other than large-print kiddy books with multiple small children at home? You do when you’re on vacation and they aren’t with you! LOL I read a book from begin-ting to end-ting and it was beautiful. *In my Madea voice*
  9. Opportunity to Do Excursions! We were able to carelessly jump on shuttles and take an airboat adventure ride in the Florida swamps whilst looking for alligators! We fed gators, marveled at how they growled at us when we threw them food, and overall had a great time participating in fun activities together.
  10. It Shows Your Children that You WANT to be together. My boys have become accustomed to us going on date nights, and just recently we took a night away and got a nice hotel room to celebrate our 8th wedding anniversary. Our boys see that we genuinely love each other and want to make time to just be “husband and wife”.  Although they can’t fully articulate it now, it provides a great sense of comfort and security for them knowing that they have parents who love them enough to recognize that a loving marriage is one of the best gifts we can give them and actually work at it to have it<3

So, if you and your spouse have been overwhelmed by the demands of life, really sit down and carve out some time away. Jump on Expedia.com and find a reasonably priced overnight hotel stay or browse Groupon.com for some local getaways at a steal! Even if your marriage may be going through a rocky phase, please be intentional in MAKING the time to just be with each other. Make deals with other friends or family with children and take turns babysitting! Whatever you do, make the plan and make it happen!

“Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”- Mark 10:9

I’d love to hear from my fellow married friends! What do you do to get away? What are your favorite get away spots? Any tips for couples struggling to find time to reconnect?

Until Next Time,

Stephanie <3

Calm Yo’ Nerves, Mama – Part 2

Hey ya’ll!

When I posted the first part of Calm Yo’ Nerves, Mama, I shared it on my personal page and the Blog Fan Page, and one thing became clear, most of us mama’s are now modeling some of the characteristics that our moms used while raising us, and some of those are good and not so good. I read several comments and received lots of feedback with moms that are also struggling with how they react when their children make them angry, and more than we are all willing to admit – the yelling, verbal threats, and voice tones – get to be way out of control. If you’ve ever automatically lashed out by saying the following or any variations of it, its time to get that initial anger management under control!

  • You’re gonna get your face slapped!
  • I will pound your face in!
  • Do it again and see what happens! *what you gone do? lol*
  • Don’t let me come in there and find out that you didn’t do what I told you to do!! You’re gonna be sorry!
  • Or maybe your initial response is more action oriented by snatching your kid up by their collar  or jacking them up against the wall with angry bulging eyes.

Most of the time we recognize when its gone too far, but as discussed in the previous post, we know that we must STOP and take a “Take 5” and then DETOUR our thoughts and respond to our children in a healthier way, thus exemplifying the type of anger management and communication we can be proud for them to model.

I USED TO THREATEN MY SON THAT HE WOULD GET HIS FACE SLAPPED

Another shameful transparency moment: I used to threaten my son that he would get his face slapped when he did things that made me angry. One day I heard him utter that same threat to his little brother, and boy was I embarrassed that he learned that from me! Although I have never slapped him in his face, threatening to do so was very hurtful to him, and one time I caught him crying after I had already mentally moved on from the situation and thought OMG! why is he crying?!

You sa-aaa-aiiid, you were gah-gah-gonna slap me!” he expressed through sobs.

I had to put my big girl pants on, drop to his level, and apologize. “Mommy is so sorry! I said that because I was angry, and I didn’t think about what I was saying. Mommy would never slap you in your face and I am going to do my best not to say that again. Please forgive me. Can I have a hug?” And we hugged it out and I embraced him and reassured him that my love for him was unchanging and that I made a mistake. Even recapping that moment for you all makes me teary. I never want to cause my children emotional pain! But the truth is we are human, we regurgitate some of the fear tactics our parents used on us, and ultimately we are flawed and imperfect people who will do and say things we regret. Just as God extends His grace to us, we have to show that same grace to not only our children, but ourselves when we know we have made mistakes. Instead of telling ourselves over and over again, “you friggin suck as a mom!”, actually take the steps to STOP and DETOUR, practice it until healthy responses to our children become second nature!

WHY DO WE GET SO MAD?!

Now that we’ve learned the steps to take control of how we respond to anger, lets discuss WHY we become angry in the first place! And thanks to the study I’m taking taught by Dr. Kevin Leman in the workbook titled, “Raising Rock-Solid Kids in a Pleasure-Driven World”, I can share it with you all!  So what do you think the reason is? On page 26 of the workbook, Dr. Leman says “the underlying message of highly angry people is ‘things oughta go my way!'” GASP! Now that I think about it, that is nothing but the truth! Think about when you first brought your baby home from the hospital, and you monitored everything your husband did with and for the baby and harped when he didn’t do it your way.

  • “No, you have to put a clean diaper underneath the dirty one so you can hurry and put it on”
  • “did you test the water temperature with a stainless steel thermometer before putting MY baby in the tub first?!”
  • “that bib doesn’t match”
  • “why are you taking so long to put the baby’s clothes on?”
  • “no you have to feed him this way, not like that. Give him here let me show you”
  • “omg, if I pull out one more dry wipe because you forgot to close the top of it I am going to lose it!”

Ha! Whew, thank God for big sisters that warned me NOT to do that with my husband because I had to rebuke myself quite a few times when I wanted to *ok, I ain’t fooling nobody, I did it too*! But basically, we drove ourselves crazy with irritation and anger that things weren’t being done how we wanted them to be done, and as a result we snap and try to take back control out of fear that if it wasn’t done OUR way, then it wasn’t done right.

“Most studies reveal the basis of anger is fear, fear of being threatened or fear of losing control. When our kids aren’t living up to our expectations, we fear what others might think of us, or we react to fear of being a failure as a parent.” (page 26)

In closing, we get angry and lose control due to the fear that things are happening out of our control. The opposite of fear is faith!

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love. Ephesians 3:16-17

Wouldn’t it be amazing if we all demonstrated that we were rooted and established in God’s love in every area of our lives, even in our marital and parental relationships?  Will you join me in practicing that this week? I always admire the mom who responds to her child in that high-pitched loving tone lol. The one who says “oh no honey, lets not eat dirt ok?!” all chipper like. Let’s dig a little deeper, push ourselves and practice healthy communication for our kiddos!  Comment below some of your moments that you may not be so proud of and the steps you took to do better. Let’s be on the journey to be better together! Until next time <3

Whooooo is Wearing That?!

First off let me say that being a mother is the biggest honor and gift. I remember when I was expecting my first son, a good friend described my impending birth experience as an opportunity to assist God in a miracle. And boy was that statement accurate.

Despite morning sickness , oops let me scratch that because that is the biggest lie ever! Yes its normal for nausea to hit a prego first thing in the morning as she wakes up, but can we strike a petition for doctors and all the “What To Expects” and “Having a Baby” books to officially change the term “morning sickness” to “spontaneous and sporadic vomit reflexes all day er’day until who knows when?” Now I would vote for that! Anyways, despite the all day er’day vomit reflexes while I carried my first-born, Jabin, I thoroughly enjoyed being pregnant! My heart thumped a little bit faster whenever I felt him move, and my eyes widened with sheer amazement whenever my belly did a big involuntary jump or became lopsided or if I looked down and saw what looked to be an indentation of an elbow or foot or something through my stomach. Oh and don’t let me have pushed or poked whatever limb it was trying to burst through my flesh only to feel a little push or poke in return. HEART BURSTING EXCITEMENT AND LOVE RIGHT THERE!!! Like to feel a little human respond to their mommy’s touch en utero is just amazing. Ok, writing this I might just be having a little pregnancy nostalgia! #fixitJesus #uterusonlockmode

With Jabin, I gained a whopping 12lbs, and he was 8lbs 3oz of it. I was literally all belly and bounced back to a weight that was even smaller than before I conceived. Then came my second son Caleb. I guess I assumed that it would be the same? NEGATIVE! There was Kerby’s Coney Island…every day during lunch break….ok and breakfast on the way to work… #durp. And I craved cheeseburgers. Not just any old cheeseburger. But chili cheeseburgers. The servers knew me by name. That’s probably not a good thing. With Caleb I gained about 30lbs which was still in the normal range, but I remember being thoroughly panicked that day I stood on the nurse’s scale and saw I had crossed the 200lb mark. That was definitely a momentary pause for internal tears. Caleb screamed into the world weighing 9lbs on the nose. Sadly, no #teambounceback occurred after him. It wasn’t until he was over a year old that I made a decision to get back in the gym and start back running. As soon as I started losing a little weight and my cardiovascular endurance started to strengthen,  I gasped one day that Aunt Flow had not yet made her usual monthly visit! And I know I sound really dumb for saying this, but despite not being on any real birth control, we were really shocked that I was pregnant! LOL I was like where did this little bean come from?!!! But praise God for my sweet little man, who was born 5 days late at 9lbs 6oz! But I carried very big, I was constantly asked if I was having twins pretty much with all three of them but especially with Elijah, the last one. You don’t believe me? See below for a Flash Back Friday!

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Me at 36 weeks, and didn’t deliver for almost 5 more weeks!

I am describing my pregnancy weight gains and baby’s birth weights and showing you a photo to paint the picture that my body stretched far and wide three different times. And as I write this today, my body is a physical representation of those big beautiful babies that I carried. Stretch marks, saggy boobs, stretch marks, umbilical hernia, stretch marks, stomach muscles never closing which will eventually require surgery to repair, weaker bladder, bigger feet (anyone wear size 8’s?), stretch marks. Need I go on?  As women, for the most part the pregnancy weight comes on very slowly. And when the baby comes out, there is a big relief, but yet when we look in the mirror, we still look pregnant, everything is droopy, and we think breastfeeding will make us skinny in 6 weeks. And when that doesn’t happen, its not unusual to feel a little pang of depression for how our body looks, and when taking photos there is that “lurking durp” in our eyes…you know, that thing that shows we don’t feel that good about ourselves because we are FAT and WANT OUR BODIES BACK!

Let me reassure you and I as well, because I still look in the mirror sometimes and cringe at the sagging skin on my belly. Our bodies are fearfully and wonderfully made by the ultimate Creator Himself! Our soft bellies have the capacity to stretch to hold and incubate life. Our hips have the ability to open wide, receiving and delivering the precious seeds that were planted. Those wider than we like hips are home to our babies, and those marks on our bellies and thighs represent the breath of life that we were able to bring into this world. Our now saggy breasts were once swollen with the richest source of nutrition designed especially for our little ones. Even the sound of their cries could cause a milk let down reflex something serious! The bags under our eyes and the stiff backs are signs that we loved and nurtured our blessings back to sleep during the wee hours of the morning.

So when my husband came home one evening and greeted me with a pat on the butt and some “gifts” in a bag, I opened it up to find little articles of clothing, well you can’t even call it that, it resembled things that my 9yo niece might wear during a dance recital.  I first dissected it and questioned the sizing. “Ummm did you know this says an XL on the package?! I am NOT an XL! WHAAAHHHHH”, and when I got to the 2nd package all I could say was “WHOOOO is wearing THAT?!” But, I obliged, and tried on the little naughty wear, and with great hesitance I let him see me. I saw an ugly flabby saggy stomach and soft thighs, and he saw his beautiful, desirable bride that bore his children.

So if you are like me at times and find yourselves being way too critical of your post baby bodies, I urge you to remind yourselves of what your body did to give you that baby. Get up and move, take a walk or a swift jog, crack open that bottle of tinted moisturizer and apply some eyeliner and a little lip gloss. Ultimately, we have the power to make small changes every day that will help us be healthier and feel better about ourselves. Now pick up your phone, take a selfie, and give yourself a smile. You da’ bomb :)