Staycation- Check! 

Okay, how long has it been since you last took a vacation?Getting out of town can be really hard at times…especially with a young family! Travel costs are always on the rise, and a car full of kids (and all of their stuff!) is exhausting to think about. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good vacation – but I’ve always felt like you don’t have to “get away from it all” to have awesome quality time together.

I recently came across this from The Dating Divas, and was super impressed! It was designed by Alexa Z Design, and it is perfection!

There is so much in this awesome pack! I love the idea of a quality “Staycation” – there is so much to do and see in our own hometown, and we never get a chance to go and do it. Not only does it save a ton of money, but I feel like we can have just as much fun staying local.

The Divas offer up a ton of tips to do it right, too, which is key! I feel like not enough people know how to do an awesome Staycation, and I think too many people would treat it like more work than it actually should be. More work = no fun! The Dating Divas really outlined in this pack how to make it just as much fun as an out-of-town holiday.

The Staycation Kit includes:

Staycation Invitation

Summer Vacation Bucket List

Family Activities Itinerary

Kids & Spouse Love Coupons

Summer Staycation Postcards

Romantic Vacation Playlist

Steamy Couples Games (for after the kids are in bed)

I really love the bucket list! There are a ton of awesome ideas on here that make a cheap Staycation possible. There was so much stuff on there that I would have never thought of…I was impressed! The itinerary is fantastic too – it makes planning really easy!

I really love this idea. Who says you can’t send postcards from home? I bet a faraway relative (like a grandparent) would get a kick out of getting this in the mail!

Of course, it’s the Divas – and no Diva vacation would be complete without some fun couples activities for the bedroom after the kiddos are asleep! They have included a ton of awesome “love mix” songs, perfect for a night in with your spouse.
Plus, tons of creative and exciting couples games!

I think I’m a believer in the Staycation! How fun does this look?

You can grab yours here for only $8.99!!


Action Steps

List one thing you’d like to accomplish this year, then list 10 things you must do to accomplish this. 
Think small, make a phone call, look up a phone number or web site, etc.
Along any life journey there is a point where a creative wall block is built. Unexpectedly, it’s violently crashed into and melodramatically all hope in life is gone never to return. This is not true, but the wall itself has safely kept any sign of “future” tucked out of sight.
Create an action plan for these “valley days”, what will you do to climb this grey wall and live your life with creative zest? Where will you go for inspiration? What words/quotes/etc. inspire and bring you hope of purpose?
For me, a while back I put together a folder on my task bar of saved websites I collectively call “my inspirations”, however, before I even open any of these links and begin to read I have to actively (and often) remind myself not to compare my own blog and/or business to whatever site I am about to visit. If I compare myself to it and the success it has found I will NOT feel inspired but instead overwhelmed, unaccomplished, and really rather pathetic. If you can’t tell your inner comparison critic to be quiet then I suggest you not visit any inspirational websites. But try some of the other suggestions below.

Get back to simplicity
Read through your own old journals or blogs (I personally have a million…handwritten, and personal ones on Xanga, Live Journal, and Blurty…yeah…taking it WAY back!) Sometimes all you need is getting back to the heart of who you are, and what used to light a fire in you. Before you worried about a mortgage, a real job, kids, making money, being a creative genius every second of every day, meeting deadlines, etc. etc.
Make a list
What things consume your thoughts every day? What worries are actually important and which can be given attention at another time. Make a list of all your worries and all the things you need to accomplish this week, a brain dump if you will. Prioritize your tasks and worries and start knocking them out TOMORROW. Not today, today “give yourself permission” to be still. Don’t start a new project, don’t finish an old one, don’t make a deadline, don’t do any of the things that are the most urgent on your dump list. They are important, but you are more important. Giving yourself time to relax, meditate, pamper yourself, simply sit still, alone, and quiet and you’ll see what a violent creative rush will come from self reflection and refreshment.
Connect With A New Muse (heck more than One New Muse is even better)
Just because you’re a creative genius, it doesnt mean you are always inspired, nor can you “do life” on your own. Everyone has a muse, someone that speaks life into the heart or who’s writing consistently stirs up the fire in you even when you feel blank and cold. For me, there are MANY inspirational people/bloggers that I refer to when I’m in a funk. But, I’m not going to list alll of them (itd take days…and Im lazy) 
but a few include
White Hot Truth, Danielle Laporte is truely a rare breed. Creative, unique, effective, inspiration, AND is not out to toot her own horn (unless the situation calls for such, haha) but so passionately wants to help others release their creative voice, while giving the tools to do so. I especially enjoyed her Manifesto of Encouragement, What to do inbetween projects She also has a wonderful creative kick e-book study called The Spark Kit.
I Grow Up Coach is another awesome resource that also does career counseling, but has some very unique information onsite, including something that honestly was the sole biggest inspiration for me creating this “Spark Your Saavy” blog, and journey of my own, called Tough Tuesdays. Michelle presents probing questions, musings, challenges, and inspirational artwork all in one weekly post. These are similarly, to Spark Your Saavy, designed to revv up the creative, vixen(or the male equivilent) in you. 

Late Musings

Can I just come out and bluntly say I’m not your typical girl? But then again I will backtrack and say I don’t really believe in that word at all. “Typical”.
What is typical anyway? 
Is it what is the norm?
Is it just what is the norm for your specific locale- your specific race or age bracket or “profile” (think 5’10 beach blonde Caucasian raised an only child in a decently strict Methodist household in a medium sized suburb of the epicenter of the tourist industry….lol….just in general….ha).
What am I supposed to be?
When you see me shopping in Walmart with my cartful of kids, junkfood and no ring on my finger, what is your first impression, honestly? 
I muse these questions a lot of the time but in reality, I don’t want to hear your answer. Nope, not really.
This is all about me dahhhling. Bahahahaha. okay. So, truthfully, cross my heart and hope to die, I’m joking.
I do want to know. You don’t shape me, define me, make me but you do influence me. Your thoughts, your actions, words, and accusations do have an affect on how I live my life. Who I want and need to be. Who I let myself become. What about you?
Do you take the opinions around you, about you, personally? Do you let the negative slide off your back and keep going or do you genuinely look and examine, think that maybe the negative may have a little truth to it and try to improve yourself? I don’t mean taking all things said and done to heart, letting them beat you down and tear you apart, but simply using them to build your character and grow your strength, endurance for healthy self evaluation. 

Honestly, my own self esteem has been one of the weakest areas of my life(soul…whatever).
Outwardly, I am this 5’10 blonde with initial shy tendencies but confident, cool, sarcastic, and collected. A (slightly less than) perfect picture of self confidence.
Inside, I’ve fought with my own personal self confidence ‘demons’ for as long as I remember. Whispering the things wrong with me, the things I would never measure up to be, the flawed areas of my life, the ways that made me unlovable and not worth time and effort for anyone. Blame it on nature, nuture, ‘ugly duckling’ phases, alcoholism, unreliable friends, shitty boyfriends, abusive relationships…whatever blame you choose to defer the end result to. 
While alll of these circumstances are true and valid I believe they defeat the purpose of reflection.
I see blame as the procrastination of self reflection, being too stubborn and lazy to take responsibility and accept change and growth. Maybe these situations set me up for confidence failure, but it was simply me who did not want to put in the effort to better myself and the situation. 
I am trailing off a bit, but I wanted to lead ito my real topic of conversation which is rather personal but needs to be said. And I’m the gal who swore her blog would be so open and honest it would make your head spin, so here I am keeping my promise to you, dear reader (you owe me!) 
Boys are my weakness. Always have been, possibly always will be. This is true of nearly any girl but I mean this in a way that for a long time, if he didn’t like me, if he didn’t call back or kiss me goodnight the world was crashing down and I was worth nothing. I let silly two week relationships that failed consume my thoughts, mourning what could of been longer than the relationship itself ever reached. Convincing myself “he” (various ‘he’s) was the one and I was dumb enough to scare him away and why can’t he see I love him.
I didn’t love him. I simply wanted to. It’s ironic how loneliness can play tricks on even the most confident soul.
I have since heard it said that far too often we meet someone and set these expectations for them, look at them in this light of their potential and become blinded by that. We are enthralled by this vision of the person we want them to be, the person we “know they can be”, but aren’t yet. And sometimes that’s all we see.
We assign these fantasy traits and convince ourselves that the fantasy is how they actually are. But, they’re not. We “get our heart broken” and truthfully, it is not that persons fault. It is our own fault by saddling them with this role they would most likely never be able to fill. But of course, when the relationship fails we are quick to say, “well he used to be so different but he’s just changed. What an ass”. We ponder why they have changed and what we did to cause it. Endlessly torturing ourselves with the reason for this ‘drastic’ morphing into this jerk who doesn’t care.
But, being a former, romantically blinded silly girl, I have the right (in your own best interest) to tell you to wake up.
He is not an asshole. This person is not drastically changing. You are not to blame, beyond the simple fact that they aren’t who you wanted them to be. Get out of bed, stop withering away. Stop pining over someone you would eventually see through; someone you would eventually see that they were not your ‘perfect match’.
One man lost is not the whole world. You are going to find someone else. You are not going to be alone forever unless you choose to be. Your life is not over, get out of bed and live it! 
As for me, I am alone now. First time since 9th grade. I will (again) admit that the situation has not been easy for me. I’ve been used to getting what I want, when I want it. Used to only putting in minamal effort (sadly). In short, used to not being alone; and its weird. The kids of course are always physically with me but I often get lost in my thoughts, pondering the next years and for once in a long time thinking about my own self, my own goals, my own dreams that again have promise but were once sacrificed for the sake of living my life in communion with some one else.
Kids come first, but in essence my life now is just about me. What I want. I have concluded over the past two weeks how I want to handle ‘boy’ and ‘relationship’ issues in the next few years. I want to be single at least a year.
Even if Mr. Right comes knocking at my door, if he really is right he will know I need this and will be patient.
He will know that while I’m doing this for myself, in the end it is for him as well. I want whoever he may be to have me at my very best. The confident, balanced, organized, emotionally even keel me that I’m dedicated to becoming in the next year. Growth, change, and daily lessons will of course continue to span a lifetime but, I want a strong starter lap.
After all, they deserve the best as much as I do.
I’m all for having fun, going on dates, getting to know someone, meeting new people. No problem with those situations in the least. I’m not a freakin celibate nun or anything close to that. But I have worn my heart on my sleeve for the last 25 years. On purpose. I actually enjoy vulnerability as allowing yourself to possibly getting hurt is also allowing yourself the chance to jump in and find beauty, love beyond imagination, bliss. I would deal myself a little brokenness if it meant I was closer to an amazing, happy life.
But, for now, I am tucking in my heart. Not to be cold or unattainable, but simply putting it in my pocket, saving it for a rainy day, challenging the one out there to get to know me, keep me in mind, impress me, chase me, sweep me off my feet, invest time, be there, cheer me on, accept all of my flawed self, push me, fight for me, carry me, don’t let go, don’t let me let go, dance with me, dream with me. 

I’m not ready yet, but wait for me, my love. Then, my heart shall surely be yours.  

Play It Safe? No Way!

Is it better to be safe than sorry? I don’t think so. Don’t play it safe, be BOLD!

Do you want to play it safe?

“Research on the attributes that we associate with “being feminine” tells us that the most important qualities for women are: thin, nice, pretty. If you want to play it totally safe, you have to be willing to stay as small, quiet, and attractive as possible.”-Brene Brown

I do not want to live my life playing it safe. I don’t want to rest in conventional, content to rush about in a daze, checking errands off my to do list, putting in facetime where required, doing all the things expected of me. Getting by, by giving up on life, is not my style.

Ladies, safe is not the new black. I don’t want you to play it safe. When we get too used to playing it safe–being small, quiet and attractive–we forget what it’s like to be out in the world, unencumbered and earnest. 

We forget what it’s like to beat on our chest with a Tarzan yell and declare, “Today’s the day to break the rules! To climb trees, write a poem, eat cherries, to live today as if it’s all I’ve got!”

To play is safe requires us to forget that we are overflowing with a unique life force. Overflowing with dreams, and hopes, and an incredible capacity to love. It requires us to make our adventures and goals fit within society’s ruler of acceptable.
Playing safe takes away our opportunity to carve our place in the world. There’s a cosmic space that belongs only to us– it’s our unique contribution to the world– and safe doesn’t allow us to paint it with rainbows, to sing at the top of our lungs, to make millions in the service of others, to dance naked, or to take pride in our quirks.
Safe keeps those differences, those shimmering contributions, from ever emerging. Safe makes us afraid to be big, bold, and unique. Safe makes us forget what that would even look like. Which leads me to this…
How Not to Play it Safe

We are a generation of educated, gutsy women who are capable of so many incredible contributions (from raising amazing children to creating art, from making a difference in our communities to starting businesses, from exploring the world to inspiring others) yet we spend so much of our energy on our outer appearance. We don’t feel good enough unless we “look good enough.” And “looking good” requires being thin, stylish, pretty, and pulled together. All of the time. And seemingly without effort.
Reality check? This is impossible.

Stop letting your outer appearance dictate how your feel about yourself, your life. Stop striving for thin as if it’s the answer to everything. Stop trying to fit in with whatever pretty happens to equal this year.

Be Big. Be Unique. Be YOU.
Strive for healthy, for strong, for capable. Love your body by fueling it properly and moving it and adorning it with fashion you love. Celebrate your unique beauty, the bloodlines that connect you to each and every gorgeous woman in your family.

Deck yourself in sequins, in pinstriped suits, in cowboy boots, in sundresses, in rock tee-shirts—whatever it is that tickles your fancy. Dress for the woman you are, not the one you’re pretending to be. Honor your reality. Practice loving you, as is.

As far as being nice goes… I’m all for kind, for loving, for rose-colored glasses and solving problems with honey. But when nice starts equaling quiet, safe, small—it’s time to break out the bold.

You’re a woman. You’ve got an opinion, a unique take on the world. Make sure it’s heard. Don’t play it safe.

You’re hurting yourself and those around you by agreeing with something that makes you want to pull your hair out. You’re disrespecting yourself by constantly grinning and bearing it. You’re giving up your power by biting your tongue.
There’s a time to be nice. 

There’s a time to get your sass on. There’s time to stand up for yourself no matter what the cost. There’s even a time to pull the bitch card. Don’t be afraid. Be Bold.

Parting Words?

You are a woman, thin or thick, small or big. You are a woman, pretty or unusual, attractive or unique. You are a woman, nice or sassy, quiet or bold.
Wherever you fall on the spectrum, ladies, don’t play it safe.

This is your life. Live it with all the guts, glory, and bravado you can muster.

Dive in. Make it Count.

And don’t worry–you’re not alone. I promise you, I’m doing the same.

Your One Wild Life

The Summer Day by Mary Oliver

Who made the world?

Who made the swan, and the black bear?

Who made the grasshopper?

This grasshopper, I mean- the one who has flung herself out of the grass, the one who is eating sugar out of my hand, who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.

Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass, how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,  which is what I have been doing all day.

Tell me, what else should I have done?

Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

What in your life is calling you? When all the noise is silenced, the meetings adjourned, the lists laid aside, and the wild iris blooms by itself in the dark forest, what still pulls on your soul? In the silence between your heartbeats hides a summons, do you hear it? Name it, if you must, or leave it forever nameless, but why pretend it is not there?” 

Nearly all little boys and girls grow up being asked what they want to be when they grow up, and thus met with typically gender assigned ocupations. Girls must want to be ballerinas and models, boys firefighters and ball players; though most never actually become these things. It is not to say that childhood dreams are a bad thing; they certainly have their place as a means to expand and mature a child’s imagination.
Reflecting back on the dreams of your childhood, we often find that innocence and bold spirit that’s been long forgotten; hidden beneath the years of bills, babies, and making a buck or two. These goals from childhood are fueled by the fervent, confident, stubborn spirit that has yet to experience being let down, dissappointed, rejection and hurt. This innocence is wildly free, the place we crave to go back to as adulthood experiences leave us bitter and confused. Throughout the years we try to shift through the advice of others, current interests, and other factrs to embark on a quest to find what inspires the passionate soul, regains firey determination. You may find a job you initially enjoy, but with time, your growth, maturing interests, and change can leave one a bit disillusioned.
What do you love now? Ask yourself, what hobbies and simple pleasures do you enjoy? Where do you see yourself in five years? What dream or goal keeps nagging you deep inside? What would it take for you to reach the end of your life with no regrets or stones left unturned? What dreams have you labeled ‘impossible’? What things are listed on your bucket list?
Personally, as a child and young adult I determined my destiny to be that of singer, then a writer, a missionary, a nurse, a youth counselor, and a therapist. In college my major changed at least four times, and with the birth of my eldest son, my dreams were put on the shelf for a while. Soon after Aidan, his brother Avery was born 13 months following and brought with him the insane hormones that wrecked me, plagued me with PPD, shut the door and seemed to leave me in the dark no matter what.  
Nothing made me happy, I could not shake the blue and it unfortunately took a toll on my family, frustrating and angering my husband. He tried his best to understand how I was feeling, forgive me, and pick up the slack, but months of this drove him to anger, frustration, and abuse. Though not always physical, I was sentenced to a solitary existance with the only voice I heard telling me I couldn’t, I wasn’t enough, I ruined lives, I would never be strong or smart enough. Dreaming was silly, did I really think I would ever make something of myself? I was foolish girl that can’t even cook without burning it but I think I can change the world? No way, get back to the kitchen, where you belong.      
Three children, one miscarriage, and one divorce later, I am beginning to understand myself and pinpoint what truly ignites my soul. Initially I pursued a journey of self discovery, but have found , ironically, passion and purpose actually pursued me. Destiny followed me, like a shadow waiting for me to turn around, get the picture and run with it. Though I tried to ignore it, these unfulfilled, unaccomplished, unanswered questions kept me up at night, wrestling to keep the notion that I had found my purpose already in being a mother. I lied to myself. While this role of mother is so wonderful and fulfilling, it is not all that I want to be, nor all I am; and that is not a bad thing though I told myself it was.
Dozens of failed attempts to find “myself” later, here I am, a thirty year old mother, person, woman. Here I am, also, a freshly discovered graphic designer, marketing guru, and event planner.
I cannot leave my heart’s unrested battle-cry lay dormant at my feet anything longer. This is the new-age renaissance of creativity, what better time to pursue that which consumes my thoughts, nags my heart, has pulled me from some of the darkest places I have ever been before. I am not afraid of aging, I don’t fear failure, I don’t believe in perfection or am crushed at how I’ll never measure up.

I only fear settling, choosing to do something or work at a job that only lets me live a half life.

Never diving in deep, to the depths of my soul, discovering where my passions truly lie and being aware of their evolution. I just want to take a chance on myself; I just want to live; not survive, but thrive. 

I dare you to do the same.

Unplug Challenge

It’s interesting to me that we so often discuss that social media can be detrimental to our relationships and yet, we never seem to adjust our routines. 

Yes, we are a full blown technological world now. Today I wrote a WordPress blog, stalked my best friends (okay, all of my friends + probably acquaintances too *insert sheepish look*) on Facebook, approved 5 Insta followers, tweeted my new inventory I added to shopify, sent out my gmail newsletter, skype’d a business meeting, and logged onto an online class I’m taking. WHEWWWWW!! 

We spend so much time “being social” and yet, in this world of instant satisfaction and remote connection across the globe, we have isolated ourselves. We connect without any real connection. Coversate but dont fall  off the couch giggling so much we’re crying, with our best friends. 

We socialize but remove the whole relationship part of it, at least not beyond pleasantries and small talk. Where you can look in your friend or child or business partners eyes and engage. Feel their energy. Hold them during a tough time when often, being there has nothing to do with saying the right words. It is no wonder we are in chaos. 

Of course, for many technology is unavoidable and their livelihood. Understandable. But what if real profit, happiness, and success will never be fully realized because we don’t even see the definition of it, and the ways we’re off course, until it’s too late?

We see “social” and ultimately, we see profit and our financial dreams and purpose finally realized. Our reach, span of influence globally accessible. But what if in all of this we are not truly on the path to success? It certainly is different for everyone, but what makes it such, at the end of the day? 

It’s ultimately about people. Relationships. Hugs. Helping others. Connecting both body, and mind, and soul. Finding meaning. Love. Gratefulness. Peace. 

As much as I do enjoy and profit from social media and the like, I would choose really listening to a friend, than a full bank account. 

I’d choose date nights and indoor forts with my boys, then a name for myself. 

I’d choose crafting and crying over wine with my best friend, than knowing all their is about SEO. I’d choose love, successful and fulfilling relationships 
I’d choose just being me. My body. My quirks. My habits. My fitness. My favorite yoga pants. My peace. Over everything social media constantly tells me I should be, act, do, wear, share, and love. 

Maybe real success cannot come until we mindfully unplug and reconnect with the souls we were put on this earth to know, create with, and genuinely, actively love. Including, ourselves.

Go To Sleep

So, Im a shopaholic, bonafide and certified and stamped with a gold seal.Before my sweet niece, Alina Rose, was born I just happened to pick up this page turner and its easy to see why its now her favorite book.

Okay, maybe its not. But its mine (the video below is not work or child appropriate, FYI)

Sidenote: Miss my red hair, even if you don’t MOOOOOOOM!!!!

What is in your beach bag?

This week I’m sharing my Friday Finds for the beach!  

What’s in your beach bag? Growing up in and still continuing to live in the Emerald Coast/panhandle of Florida, the beach is the center of everything. I’ve had a LOT of experience packing and unpacking my beach  bag and have seen how these have totally changed now that I have “procreated”. of course. It definitely also changed after we went from one to two then two to three kids as well.

Some things are great. Others you thought would but they didn’t work out that way. And then of course, I have had my share of epic fail moments too (I:e forgetting to wash my towels and realizing all I brought was a black sheet. Black @ the beach? No Bueno on this Irish skin)! 

Hard to believe right?!? Well, I have.

My perfect beach environment has also changed. 

Priorities used to be: 

1) A lot of hot shirtless people my age

2) The presence of a bathroom to brush my tangled hair

3) Close proximity to an alcoholic beverage (once legal age of course, Mom!!!)

Now, what are they? 

A bathroom still, for those unexpected number 2s

The availablity of close parking and minimum walking distance

Enough space to bitch at my kids without funny looks or unwanted comments and questions (like, duh! That riptide is unforgiveable, sweetie, much like my overweight ex-mother-in-law……..

Just kidding Mama, you know I still love you…around Christmas…)

Yes. I spank my minions (when deserved)

  • I know how it happens
  • Yes my hands are full
  • No we’re not trying for a girl, we’re divorced.
  • Yes I know my boys look like twins, but they are 13 months “together” 
  • And yes, all the same father (he lives in Cali and yes pays child support, would you like my street address and SSN also? Get out!)

Without further ado (and in no particular order), I’ve created a printable list for you to download, print, and add to for your next beach trip. Below I have also created a short list of essentials that are not on your typical beach trip packing list, but in my last thirty years of beach bum life,  I would not want to leave home without!!! 

Have fun and sunscreen it up; cancer is not just an Obama Administration hoax!

Firstly, Lets Talk Beachwear 

Well technically these are on my body not in my bag. Nevertheless:

As far as beachwear goes, now that I’m a mother I don’t generally like to over indulge in my own fashion for beach as inevitably, no matter what I wear or do at some point one boob will be out due to the desperate grabbing of toddlers or some organic snack will be on my butt with me yelling my ass off at my 8 year old to not go any deeper. Child neglect is much more of a crime than my last years bikini print. 

However, my I don’t skimp on two things, a good beach hat, an easy to throw on coverup, and fantastic (but frugal sunglasses). If you’re in the market, here are my suggestions.

Beach Hat (Frugal) ($$ Fashion)
Sunglasses (Frugal) ($$ Fashion)
Coverup (Frugal) ($$ Fashion)

For the kids, I’m not a helicopter Mom, but at the beach, there is nothing more scary than watching your children go under a white capped wave. Seriously

I love these life jackets (Frugal) ($$ Fashion)

My boys insist on goggles, especially at the beach because salt water in the eyeball is basically a slow death.

I would definitely also recommend bringingExtra Clothes, Bangles/accessories, and Flops, because…DUH! Another useful idea is to label your shoes, swimsuits especially, and even your toys and blow ups if you intend on reusing them. I usually also label my towels, beach chairs and cooler. I’m fond of my shit.

Sunscreen is kind of a no brainer but I want to mention it anyway. Every year we get both vacationers and even locals that are down on the beach red and patchy as if they have no idea what the sun is and what it does and not only is it NOT a pretty sight but it’s also really horrible for your body and there are a lot of sun are and sunscreen myths out there I’d like to take a minute to debunk

Towels and clips !!!!!!!!                            At least two per child and extras left in the car to protect it from sandy wet suits

Swim Shoes

Gotta love a good pair of water shoes. Some shells just hurt and fishies nipping at your toes when you wade your lazy butt in to pee, isnt too delightful.

Flushable Wet Wipes: 

Just trust me

Sun shade for my car

Have you ever sat your sunburnt booty on a leather seat that’s been saturated with 99 degree weather for the past 4 hours? OUUUCCCH

Garbage and Laundry bags
Usually the beaches we hit have some sort of garbage and recycling bins but these can be a long, sandy walk my lazy butt doesn’t want to endure. Garbage bags will get it all in one trip! I also bring them because at times we leave but not go straight home so I rinse my boys down and strip them down and bag the wet suits (and towels). It’s much more simple to put wet and sandy items in a laundry bag and toss it in the wash when I get home rather than having to dig through 8 beach bags

Beach Sand Spiker & Koozie
Water is totally essential even more when you’re in Florida so dehydration is a huge problem. I personally just loathe the plain taste of water so I use my infuser instead of water bottles and I hate getting the bottom all sandy because it will inevitably get in my mouth. Yuck. I love my monogram Spikers and cup sand free cup net, for the win!!

Rolling Beach Chair/Cart

Otter box for my IPhone + Waterproof speaker/ear buds

Yes I think my Otterbox may be more essential than water. Maybe. Yes. Maybe. Probably. At least for my sanity. 

Sand away spray: DID YOU KNOW THIS EVEN EXISTED? Me either. But it apparently does.

Lip balm (usually tinted)

The beach is about the only place I rock an edgy purple or hot pink pucker. I’m too pale any other time 🙂 

Detangler or Beach Spray

My newly bleached hair cannot live without detangler and/or leave in conditioner. The bald look would just never work for me.

Camera (with case and cleaner spray)

This is pretty much a given, most of the time on a beach trip I will just bring my phone for any embarrassing obligatory snap and posting but if we are going on our annual Mexico Beach (Florida) trip, you better believe I’ve packed my Canon DSLR and a back up battery with said case + cleaner. Especially at our gulf beaches you really have to make sure you take care of your equipment. Salt is awful for electronics.

Beach Pillow and Books

Currently I’m reading about four different books because um, basically I’m just THAT ADHD that I can’t reaword only one book. I get bored. So at the moment I’m reading “Big Magic”, “Orange Rhino”, “Raising Cain” and working through two awesome workbooks, The Desire Map and My Big Beautiful Book Plan (can you tell I’m SLIGHTLY obsessed with Danielle Laporte’s energy? Well, I am.) 

Yes I’m old. My boys definitely love their iPad books and I do own a few, but I just realllly love the feel of an old book in my hands with the sound of the waves crashing to the shore. 

Plus, I can’t spank with my iPad!!

Planner/Notebook/My Fav Pens There has been this huge Erun Conndren dad going on but honestly, I much prefer putting together my own planners with these pages from Alessia Claire and Clean Life and House and makes some super awesome letter notebooks. I’m seriously notepad and planner obsessed, you’ve have no idea!

You Suck Notes Genuis. These have come in handy more often than you’d think!!

Paddle board. Okay. I’m lying. I’m too lazy to paddle after working and parenting three boys on my own all week. But I’ve heard it’s fantastic exercise. 😉

Now heres my little list of 

“Get Off My Beach, Fool” items, for your enjoyment:

Your drama/your mamas exboyfriend’s sisters cousin twice removed. Seriously. Enough. Said.

Glass bottles and all your trash

Food for the “Pelicans” Those are not pelicans, they are seagulls, and not only are they disgusting and annoying but they WILL shit on your head and make you contract herpes which you will deserve if you’re dumb enough to feed them anyway (okay maybe not, but still, don’t feed them, SERIOUSLY)!

And a couple little rules of thumb because honestly, the people I have known nearly my entire life, as well as myself, really DO want you to come to the beautiful place we call home, and see all that there is to enjoy. 

We very much value the quality of life we are enabled to live by having a beautiful place to share with people we hope will take a break from their insanely 24/7 technologically overshared  lives and enjoy what we were all created for. 


Connection with those close to us.

Nature, wildlife & all it’s wonders.

Good, magical cuisine.

And of course, damn good locally brewed beer! Bottoms up! 
This is a little printable list for you to download! Have fun! 

My Letter To The Perfect Parent

Okay. I know I got a little upset tonight. You were explaining why something was important and I know by the defensive stance I took it seemed as if all I cared about was my pride and not whether I was doing the right thing for my child or not.

I know how it must of looked and/or sounded. I do want to apologize for my attitude because I know you thought you were helping. I know your intentions are good. This is what I need you to know and please keep your ears and heart open as you read this and really think about it before you do what I did and immediately go into defensive survival mode. That will solve nothing.

I know you are a wonderful parent. How could I not? You raised me and I wasn’t even yours by blood. I know even more so that you are an amazing and caring grandma to all of my children and you want the best for all of us. I know you mean to help and you want to see me succeed. Here’s the thing.

I know I’m not perfect. I get angry. I make the wrong judgement call. I leave the skin on apples when I cut them and sometimes I get selfish and would rather take a bubble bath than finish the laundry. I know you take stains seriously and I’d rather just buy a new shirt than deal with it (gasp!)

But I’m trying.

I’m not a perfect parent and I’m sure not even close to as good as you were, but I’m their mom. I love them all with every thing inside of me. In theory you know this but while you are probably my most trusted friend and keep me honest, I don’t open up very often about what I struggle with daily.

I say this hoping it doesn’t sound self centered, but the truth is I battle many things EVERY day that you are aware of but have never had to deal with, personally. You’re no idiot. I would never claim that. But. You’ve never had an addiction. You lost your second husband and that was a very trying period but your kids were grown. My brain battles are exhausting, I get weary and overly aggravated. Sometimes I don’t win them. Other days I do. Some days I’m happy I just got up in the morning and kept it together all day, even if no housework has been done.

There is something deep and dark in me that feels faced with some invisible but constant battle. A force telling me to be scared. Telling me I’ll never be good enough. Telling me getting up and doing the right thing is pointless. That trying is pointless.

While I know and try to expose these lies for what they are, there still is not one single moment in my day that I don’t fight these thoughts. I fight for my soul. For my children’s souls. For sanity in the middle of all the madness though some days I confess, it feels like losing touch with reality would be much easier. Drinking tea and flying high seems like it would embrace me with ease and I would perfectly melt into that world, unlike fighting for my place on the unsteady ground I reach for in this one.

If I didn’t care or love, I would of left you with them long ago. If I didn’t I wouldn’t fight these lies, or my addictive nature at all. If I didn’t put them first in every single thing I would never be in recovery. I would never have a setback because there would never be any steps forward. If I was as selfish as you think at times I would never let any of your foods for thought marinate. So, I care. There’s nothing I want more than to be their mother, the best one I can be.

Even though I will never be you.

My house may never look like yours till Jude is 18. I will never be who you were and continue to be in my life. But I’m their Mom. I’m me. Mary Lee.

I think I have what they need. I have watched their eyes flutter as they slowly doze off. I’ve felt their bodies relax next to mine after hour long cry fests because they miss their dad and I had nothing to offer but my arms and all the rest of me.

But I have given that. And I will continue to without a second thought; even if you don’t see it. I’m their Mom.

I don’t say this because I mean i am close minded and don’t need your help or discount your wisdom or advice. I cherish those talks. I just NEED you to see me. See that even though I’m not you, I love them just as fiercely and devotedly as you did me. Offer wisdom, don’t dismiss my instinct and opinion. Guide me, because I trust you and that’s saying a lot, I don’t trust easily at ALL and you know this, but also believe in me. And say that you do. Please. As small of a thing as it may seem to you, it isn’t. I need this now from you.

I love you, as you know I do,
Your perfect grandsons’ imperfect mother