6 Things I love About My Mom

1545787_10203348857948079_1388859174_nSometimes the only thing a girl needs is her mom. And I am no exception to this. Of course, a girl needs her dad too, but often enough I find that mom is the only thing that will do. During my growing up years I didn’t quite realize what a blessing it is to have a mom (because not everyone does). After I went away to college it became more apparent how much I needed her. She’s my best friend, sometimes worst enemy, but always the most important lady I know. Here are 6 things that I love about her.

1. The way she makes our house smell so good

Have you ever walked into someone’s home and noticed how good it smelled? Coming home from school I got to experience it quite often. She always had a candle of some sort burning. Usually it was something with cinnamon in it. During the fall, she always has something burning that smells like pumpkin.

2. Home cooked meals

Its becoming increasingly rare for people to have home cooked meals on a regular basis. My mom is an amazing cook (though she doesn’t think so). Recently, she’s been trying a few new recipes out from Food Network’s Ina Garten. Several of them have quickly become family favorites. If however, we do not like it, we joke that at least its made with love!

3. Her sense of humor

I’ve been around moms (and dads) who literally have no sense of humor when it comes to what their kids or their kids’ friends are saying. You know this type I’m sure, they take everything literally! In my home we always joke around and act goofy. It really throws some people off how we act around each other. Teasing is an everyday occurrence and no one is off limits.

4. Her hugs

Warm and inviting, need I say more?

5. How she still comes to my room to say good night

Hopefully most children had the experience of bed time stories and good night hugs. While we don’t have ‘story time’ anymore, mom still comes to my room to say good night and give me a hug. This may sound childish to some of you but for me, its the most comforting thing in the world.

6. She always knows when something is wrong

I don’t have to say anything and she knows. The best part is she will stop whatever she’s doing and help me figure out my problems. It may take hours but she doesn’t give up!

Thanks mom for being the best parent a kid could have! I really was blessed to be your daughter!

~Liz

Travel Edition: Going Camping

What to Pack for a Camping Trip

Camping
Beach        A favorite past time of mine and my family’s is camping. Growing up we didn’t have money to spend staying at a resort or hotel. So with a little saving and planning ahead, my parents bought a Coleman pop-up camper. After that, we took many vacations every year in our pull-behind camper. We camped all over- the mountains of Virginia, Myrtle Beach, Civil War battlefields, Colonial Williamsburg, a theme park or two, and many other places. One of our most cherished vacation spots however, is Ocean City, MD. While not necessarily known for the ‘classy’ atmosphere, it has been a beloved place for families in the MD/DE/PA area to go during the summer for many generations. My family is no exception to this. 
       This weekend we’re planning a Mother’s Day camping trip to ‘OC’ as the locals call it,  for my mom and my ‘Aunt’ Terri (no biological relation but she and her husband are just like family).
         For any newbie campers out there you may be wondering where to start, what to pack, and what to expect. Don’t worry, you aren’t alone! I’ve been camping since I was 5 and still don’t know it all.  But I’m here to share with you what I do know!

1. Where do I start?

        Well, you start by planning the kind of trip you want and location. For first timers, I do not recommend traipsing out into the wilderness with no experience. Its not smart. My family has always enjoyed staying at state parks (usually very inexpensive!) or at a privately owned campground. Now some of you may be saying “that isn’t camping” and I suppose compared to the rough and rugged campers you would be right. But this is a perfect mix of nature and convenience. 
       The second thing you need to think about is what you will be staying in- tent, pop-up camper, or an RV. Tent camping is the closest thing to the real deal but from experience it is so uncomfortable. If you aren’t committed to buying anything bigger than a tent, then there are many places around the country that will let you rent to test it out. Go with what makes you comfortable. 

2. What do I pack?

       That is a loaded question because there is so much that I could tell you to bring! It really depends on where you Weekend_Getawayare going, how long, and what your activities will be. Going to the beach and mountains are completely different settings that require totally different gear. Not only that, but each season at both places requires different things as well. 
       For my trip to the beach this weekend, I know it will still be a bit brisk down at the shore line so I will be packing light weight clothes with jackets to go over top. A look I love on the beach is bikini bottoms with a cute hoodie on top. I’ll still get my legs nice and tan without being too chilled. I’ll also be bring my Sperrys, sun screen, big hat, neutral color shorts, jeans, a few neutral color tops, bright accessories, and my Vera Bradley beach towel. 
       Regardless of where you go there are a few things you simply must bring: bug spray, small toiletries bag, first aid kit, bath towels, and depending on if you’ll be dining in or not, cookware, lighter, and charcoal. 

3. What should I expect? 

       You should expect a lot of memories to be made and a few mistakes that will make you laugh eventually. My family and I still make some whopper mistakes when we go camping but they make for a great memory later.
       Also, expect to see wildlife. When we camp at OC, we go to Assateague State Park at least once for a day. This beachy Wild_Poniesarea is home to dozens of wild horses and an even bigger population of heron and deer. After being with these creatures that roam freely around the park you learn respect for nature and to leave it alone. Take your pictures but don’t get in their way, you’ll regret it. 
       Finally, expect for plans to be shifted around. You can never stick to an agenda when camping. And maybe that’s a good thing. Be flexible and don’t let your trip be ruined. 
Do you have any tips for camping? Comment below! 
-Liz

Travel Edition: Adventure in Key West, Florida!

Last spring I took a trip down to the Keys for a little sun and sand but what I found was an adventure! 

Key_WestI have never seen water so clear and sand so white! Upon arriving at Key West, the tour bus I was on with about 35 other people dropped us off at the southern most point of Key West and the United States. In fact, we were 90 miles from Cuba! We took photos and then planned the rest of our day on the island. This was an adventure I took on my own. I vaguely knew a few of the other people on the bus from my Disney College Program (blog to come on my experience). I spent half the day navigating the island by myself and the other half with the entire group. 

Shortly after I returned from Fort Zach Taylor beach (on a vespa!) I foundKey_Lime_Pie my way to a snack shop by the dock. The wonderful treat I got to try was frozen chocolate covered key lime pie! I’ve never tasted something quite so unique and refreshing in my life. It was perfect after an afternoon on the beach laying in the sand (and stone, ouch!) of Key West. 

My next little adventure started soon after my frozen chocolate brain freeze ended. I had purchased a ticket to go snorkeling for $50. I assumed I’d just be swimming around in the water looking at sand and nothing really interesting. Instead we went out on a catamaran and sailed a few miles out into the water to snorkel at a reef! There were roughly 40 people on the ship and we were all given a life vest, flippers, goggles, and a snorkel. The boat’s crew lowered a set of stairs into the water and gave us the go ahead. I waited for about 20 people to go before me (in case of sharks or barracuda we were warned about) and then finally I worked up my nerve to jump in. 

SnorkelingThe water was luke warm and had high salt levels (I swallowed enough to know). I began to swim towards the other snorkelers and looked down at the sea floor below. At 15 feet deep I saw sea life that I never thought I would get to see in a natural habitat. There were tons of fish, bottom feeding sharks, some sort of sea snake, little sea turtles, and beautiful coral reefs. It was so peaceful. The first time I ever felt at ease with nature! The sun was incredibly bright, illuminating the sea floor. A school of small clown fish ran into me (literally) and a few turned to look at me and then swam away. After about an hour a half we got back on the boat and sailed back to the dock. The ride back was accompanied by a setting sun, a light breeze, fruity drinks (I had a cherry limeaide mixed with pineapple juice) and reggae music. 

It was a beautiful adventure and one I’ll always remember. When we got back into town the sun had set and we went to dinner. The downtown area of Key West was, in my opinion, a little sketchy. Not somewhere I’d take my children but it was great for people watching and a few hysterics. After dinner we boarded the bus to go back to Orlando. Unfortunately a few people were missing and showed up late, one passed out drunk in the back of a pick up truck. When we stopped in Key Largo she had to be taken to the hospital for alcohol poisoning. Did I mention she was underage?

Anyway, all around it was a great time and a really nice memory. 

What’s your favorite vacation destination? Comment below!

-Liz

Adventures in the Trees: Trying Something New

Girls Can Get Dirty Too!

SelfieLast week I went on a day trip to a fun little place called GoApe. Its mostly for the younger crowd but adults (like my fearless mom) can go too. They strap you in a harness and then let you go and climb through the trees. You go over bridges and on tight ropes, wiggly rope ladders and so much more. The best part? Zip lining!

Despite the girly persona I usually exhibit, I put on my harness and climbed with my sister and her youth group on their crazy outing. I was a chaperone and keeping up with those kids while suspended 30-40 feet in the air is not an easy task. I can’t tell you how much dirt I got in my Sperrys and down my hoodie from shooting down the zip line and hitting the mulch and dirt floor that was there to slow me down. My nails were also ruined in the process. 

By the end of the day all the kids were messy and tired. A lot of great memories were made in the process though. Not to mention most of us overcame our fear of heights! When Climbingpresented with the idea I wasn’t so sure about it, but the thing about life is that you don’t know if you’ll have an opportunity to do something again. So take it. That’s what I did. 

However, there were a few things I wish I had known or brought with me! Here’s my lovely list:

1. Baby wipes

The dirt just never seems to go away and no matter how careful you are you will get dirty. Welcome to nature. 

2. Hand lotion

All the climbing and cool air chapped my hands and it would have been nice to have something that would moisturize afterwords. 

3. Comfy shoes

While I’m convinced Sperrys are made for almost any activity, climbing may not be one of them. Since they don’t tie very tightly I got more dirt and wood chips in them than I thought possible. Bring tennis shoes or climbing boots. 

4. Nutrition bar

The entire course was about 3 hours long and you don’t realize how much energy you’re exerting climbing around. By the end of it I was so hungry! 

There you have it. Next time you want an adventure GOAPE!

What have you done adventurous lately? Comment below!

-Liz