Grounded: My One-Word Resolution for 2019

Another year has passed, and suddenly here we are in 2019. Time to start fresh with some new goals. Time to take the lessons learned from last year and apply them to this year. And time to reveal my new one-word resolution.

The words I chose for the last two years — Balance and Wellness — came to me quickly with little contemplation.  I somehow instinctively knew those words belonged to me for a year. But this year wasn’t as easy. My list of words to choose from was longer, and any one of them would be fitting for me.
But after a month of test-running my list of 20 potential words, I figured out which one I wanted to bring with me into 2019.
That word is:
Grounded has a handful of definitions:
  • Mentally and emotionally stable
  • Sensible, realistic and unpretentious
  • Unable to move, as in a grounded ship
  • Punished, as in a child who is grounded after misbehaving
But then I noticed that every time I attended one of my beloved hot yoga classes, the instructor would say the word Grounded multiple times.
Whether we’re in mountain pose, standing tall with our eyes closed and feeling our feet grounded on the floor or we’re in a seated position, noticing the long line of energy that begins where we are grounded on the floor and traveling up our spines to the top of our heads, I’ve come to think of Grounded as meaning something other than those standard definitions.
To me, Grounded means:
  • Mindful
  • Rooted
  • Supported
  • Calm
  • Focused
  • Aligned
  • Connected
  • Energetic
  • Present
  • And circling back to my favorite word in the dictionary…Balanced
Grounded also makes me think of one of my favorite guided meditations that I fall back on when I’m stressed or angry or nervous or worried or just generally ruminating over thoughts that do nothing but exacerbate whatever emotional I’m trying to soothe. To paraphrase, in this meditation, you envision tying this unwanted thought on a string that’s attached to a balloon. And from the ground, you watch the balloon float away with your thought.
Watch from the ground…Grounded.
I live inside my head a lot, and the image of watching my troubles float away while I stay firmly on the ground — and capable of walking away — is comforting. But I’d like to use it more. I’d like to improve my ability to let go of what’s unnecessary or out of my control and simplify my thoughts. I’d like to be able to plant my feet on the ground and be mindful of where I am at any given moment, mindful of what’s truly important in my life while ignoring the chatter.
So with my word in mind, I started off 2019 on January 1 by applying it as literally as I could. I went outside. I took off my socks and shoes. And I walked around my backyard, letting the earth kiss my bare feet. I stood in mountain pose, closed my eyes and imagined all the not-so-great parts of 2018 floating away with a bouquet of colorful balloons, while giving thanks to all the wonderful parts of 2018.
I’m excited to see where this word and this year will take me. Bring it on, 2019!

Roller Coaster 2018 Year in Review

“Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us.” ~Hal Borland

‘Tis the season for year in review posts. And now that we’re mere hours away from a new year, I thought I’d join in on my personal walk down the 2018 memory lane.

So what did my 2018 look like?

My January was all about preparing for a hysterectomy that would put me out of commission for six weeks. When a freak blizzard canceled my original surgery, I spent the rest of the month regrouping, rearranging and re-prepping for the second attempt, which was successfully completed with no complications.

I spent February in a blur of pain meds, hormonal changes, juicy novels, Netflix binge-watching and the realization that my son, who turned 14, had surpassed me in height.

In March I returned to work, reminding myself the art of moderation.

My body told me in April it was ready to get moving and in shape again. I signed up for Orangetheory Fitness and hot yoga memberships, two very different practices that I would soon learn greatly complimented each other. My first essay about my hysterectomy was published.

In May I turned 42, I published my second piece about my hysterectomy and I finally started believing my body was finding its new normal.

I had to wait until June to celebrate my birthday, but the parasailing adventure in the Outer Banks of North Carolina was worth the wait. My son graduated from middle school, my daughter graduated from elementary school.

July uprooted our lives with the news that we had to move unexpectedly. We found a new house in the kids’ school zone in less than a month. We spent the month packing.

Four days into August, we moved into our new house. Not two weeks later, my boyfriend and I were driving around Iceland on an unforgettable vacation. We wrapped up the month celebrating my daughter’s 11th birthday.

Life attempted to slow down in September. Daughter started middle school. Son started high school. We finished unpacking our new house.

October brought pink hair for me and the Halloween my son chose hanging out with his friends over trick-or-treating with his mommy.

In November, I spent time with my parents, celebrated an early Thanksgiving because the kids were with their father on the real one and got my first piece published on a travel site.

I ended the year with December Christmas craziness, my son’s first track meet, a vision board workshop, the anticipation of a kiss from my boyfriend at midnight on New Year’s and lots of new goals for the new year to come.

Happy New Year!!!

 

What Will My 2019 One-Word Resolution Be?



“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language 
And next year’s words await another voice.” ~T.S. Eliot

Every year around this time, I start creating my own personal year-in-review mental slideshow. I know it’s a little early. It’s still November. I haven’t even put up my Christmas tree yet. But I feel like I need to start early and really take the time to figure out how I did in life the past 11 months so that once New Year’s Day hits, I have a clear plan in place as to how I want to approach the upcoming year.

I don’t believe in New Year’s Resolutions. But I do believe in the power of a single word. And because I feel like my last two years were positively defined by two words, part of my early year-end reflection involves choosing my next one-word resolution.

My 2017 word was Balance. As a working mom who has a million things I want to pursue in my free time, I felt like I was living an unbalanced life. I spent the year finding balance in my body, mind and space. Every time I felt the stress of imbalance creeping in, that word flashed in my brain. In fact, I loved Balance as my one-word resolution so much I was tempted to use it again for 2018 (as I’m tempted to use it again for 2019!). 

But I knew I needed a new word, a fresh word for a fresh year. So my 2018 word was Wellness. As the year kicked off with a hysterectomy, I needed a word that would remind me why I chose to have the surgery, as well as a word to motivate me to stay healthy, both physically and mentally, throughout the year. That word was there as I dealt with the difficult recovery after surgery, as I struggled to get back into the shape I was accustomed to as an athlete, and as I listened to my body when I had pain I shouldn’t be having 9-months post-surgery and spoke up to my doctor. With Wellness on my mind, I can say that word helped me get to the here and now with a focal point I needed.

Now I need a 2019 word. And I want that word settled on and ready to work its magic when I open my eyes on January 1. Words randomly pop in my head all the time, but the following 20 have serious potential. Some are straightforward. Some have dual meanings. All of them can be applied to things I want to see in my life as we switch calendars.

So which of these will be my 2019 word?

1. Grounded

2. Breathe

3. Mindfulness

4. Priorities

5. Energy

6. Words

7. Calm

8. Flow

9. Meditation

10. Mountain

11. Momentum

12. Motivation

13. Listen

14. Create

15. Present

16. Steps

17. Float

18. Importance

19. Connect

20. Explore

Fakesgiving: Co-Parenting During the Holidays

I don’t have my children for Thanksgiving this year.

The good news is that this means I get the kids for Christmas.

But on Thanksgiving, the kiddos will be eating turkey and stuffing with their father.

I’ve been co-parenting for nearly five years now. For five years, the parent who gets Thanksgiving, doesn’t get Christmas, and the parent who doesn’t get Thanksgiving gets Christmas.

I’d like to say that five years of missing every other Thanksgiving and every other Christmas with my children has eased the emptiness I feel on my childless holidays.

But I can’t.

It doesn’t get easier, but I guess I’ve learned to cope with their blatant absence better.

As a former military spouse who had to figure out how to celebrate all the holidays and special occasions that were either postponed or outright ignored because of deployments, I learned to get creative. And flexible with dates on the calendar.

That means that this year, Thanksgiving has already come and gone for me.

Well, to be more accurate, “Fakesgiving” has come and gone.

Just as I’ve made up a new last name to call our household that combines mine, my kids’ and my boyfriend’s, I’ve made up new names for the holidays we celebrate early.

Because I refuse to ignore holidays.

And who cares when you celebrate together as long as you celebrate, right?

So this year, when my parents came to visit the first weekend in November, my family with the three last names smushed into one sat down for our Fakesgiving spread on the most random of days and shared what we were thankful for.

It didn’t matter that the calendar didn’t say Thanksgiving.

While I’m thankful to be able to share Fakesgiving with my kids, and I’m thankful I don’t have to plan an early “Fakesmas” until next December because this year I get to share the real Christmas with them, I can’t help but feel a bit deflated this week.

Everyone around me is planning for Thanksgiving, buying their turkeys and planning their menus.

Yesterday, as my boyfriend and I braved Trader’s Joe’s on the Sunday before turkey day, the busy yet cheerful cashier asked if we were excited for Thanksgiving.

“Well, we’ve already done our Thanksgiving,” I blurted out.

(I really need to stop saying that. People don’t know how to react. I need to just say yes and move on with my day.)

I try not to complain. After all, my kids are thrilled they get two of every holiday each year.

My divorce hasn’t totally scarred them for life.

They’re growing up learning that life is filled with the need for adjustments and it’s important to make the best of odd circumstances.

But I already know on Thanksgiving day, even though my boyfriend and I will enjoy our day hiking at our local state park like we usually do when the kids aren’t around for holidays, my heart will still hurt a little.

After five years, handing my babies over to spend a holiday with someone else still hurts a little.

And I think that’s ok to admit so I can acknowledge that hurt, say hello like it’s a familiar acquaintance, and then move on.

To planning Christmas with my kids!

Happy Fakesgiving or Thanksgiving or whatever you may be celebrating this week!

I Miss Writing

I miss writing.
I hear myself say these three words.
Every. Single. Day.
I can’t stand that I’m saying them.
I can’t stand that I’m not writing with the frequency and passion that once drove me to this blog.
Every. Single. Day.
I can’t stand that writing has somehow fallen off my list of priorities.
What’s going on? Why am I not writing?
This year kicked off with a major surgery in January.
I attempted to return to work four weeks after my hysterectomy.
I wasn’t healthy enough.
Two more weeks of recovering, and I was good to go.
But I was slow.
Slow to get my work done.
Slow to get back into physical shape.
Slow to get back to normal life.
But one day I discovered I felt normal and healthy.
The rough winter was over, and spring bloomed with the sunshine I craved, multiple pitches to editors and an outline for a new book I was itching to write.
I signed up for hot yoga.
I signed up for Orangetheory Fitness.
My boyfriend and I decided to go to Iceland for our end-of-summer vacation, and I started planning our epic adventure.
Summer was in full swing, and I couldn’t wait for all the beach days of paddle boarding and sunsets.
I said to a friend, “I’m so happy I can’t help but wonder when the other shoe is going to drop.”
And then it dropped.
The day after celebrating the 4th of July, the owner of our beach rental house informed us we had to vacate because she was selling it to a family member.
We had six weeks to find another house. In the kids’ school zone. And move.
No beach days for me.
I spent every minute of free time house hunting and packing.
I stopped finding time to write.
Hot yoga and Orangetheory were afterthoughts.
I contemplated canceling our trip to Iceland.
But somehow we found a house and moved in under a month.
I spent every minute of free time unpacking and creating a new home for my family.
And getting one kid ready to start high school and the other to start middle school.
And finalizing our trip to Iceland (because, dammit, I refused to cancel the trip to Iceland!).
I still wasn’t writing.
I stopped going to hot yoga altogether and made pathetic appearances at Orangetheory.
I treated our 11-day drive around the entire country of Iceland as a break from moving boxes and change of address forms and stress.
(Side note: Iceland was absolutely incredible. Truly an epic adventure. I highly recommend and will gladly help plan your itinerary.)
I returned home to work and new house stress and schools not releasing schedules because I had no proper proof of address.
I told myself life would settle down soon.
School started (after finally getting schedules).
I resumed a hot yoga and Orangetheory routine.
And while I wasn’t working on my books, I finally made time to throw together some essays and send out pitches.
But editors didn’t bite.
I got a couple of kind and constructive rejections, but mostly I got no responses at all.
Which is very discouraging.
And more discouraging?
Realizing I haven’t been published since May.
Realizing I haven’t written a blog post since February.
Realizing I have two drafts-in-progress of books begging to be worked on.
Which brings us to up to date.
These are my thoughts today.
I miss writing.
Because I have yet to find the time and energy in between a full-time job, parenting a teen and a tween, spending time with my boyfriend and taking care of my health to rekindle the passion I once had to write.
Every. Single. Day.
But life was no less hectic back when I published a blog post every weekday.
Life was no less hectic when I participated in three consecutive NaNoWriMo’s to make significant progress on my novel.
Life was no less hectic when I scribbled pages and pages of journal entries that included endless ideas for topics to write about.
I miss writing.
But life never slows down.
So it’s time to stop making a blog post worth of excuses for why I haven’t been writing.
And start writing.
Every. Single. Day.

To Whom It May Concern

Dear Pets,
The last four weeks post-surgery have been rough. 
And when I say rough, I mean I’ve been rotating the same comfy pants and baggy shirts for over four weeks. 
I’ve been keeping medication charts. 
I’ve been taking naps. 
I’ve watched more tv in the last month than I probably have in the entire last year combined. 
I’ve been missing exercise, baths, wine, going anywhere quickly and general contact with the outside world that now feels like a foreign country because I’ve been inside my house too much.
But you, my loyal and sweet dog and cat, have been right by my side through it all. You’ve cuddled close and absorbed my pain. You slowed down to match my pace. You looked cute and made me smile. Pet therapy is a real thing. And I’m so thankful for you both.
With love and appreciation,
A Furbaby Mama

Dear Authors,
I have read eight of your books in four weeks. You’ve kept me entertained while I rested and tried to keep my brain functioning as I take time off work. You’ve reminded me of the power of the written word and my own passion to share what’s in my brain. And you’ve inspired me to get back into a daily writing routine, as well as start a new project I’ve been contemplating for years.
Thank you for helping me find new words,
A Writer With a New Plan
Dear Psychic Energy,
As rough as this month has been, I feel like I’ve managed to rearrange you in such a way that any negativity is transforming into positive juju.  
I had my annual psychic reading last week. As always, my session was a practice in reflection, insight and motivation. And although most of the reading wasn’t much more than an affirmation of things I already planned to do and my mom later claimed she could have told me all that for free, I needed to hear it from an objective stranger.
You also went through a cleansing by smudging. I started with my house and finished with my body. My house instantly felt cleared of negative energy, and whatever negative physical vibes were left over from my surgery drifted out the open windows as well. I cleansed, I dismissed, I dispelled. 
Best,
A Cleared and Focused Woman
Dear Passport,
I’m starting the process of figuring out how to use you again this summer. Last year was the Dominican Republic. The year before was Costa Rica. The year before that was Turks and Caicos. My list of travel dreams never stops growing. Thank you for helping me satisfy my wanderlust and see fun new parts of the world. I can’t wait to see where you take me next!
Gracias,
An Aspiring World Traveler
Dear Beach,
Since I had my hysterectomy over four weeks ago, you have been my goal. 
As my happy place that just happens to be a short three minute walk from my front door, I fear I may have taken you for granted. Even in the winter, I typically visit you multiple times a week. I use you for sunsets, dolphin watching, paddle boarding, reading, dog walks and anytime I need a break.
For the past month, you’ve seemed too far away. The first time I reached my goal of walking to you, I was ecstatic! And I was also exhausted. Too exhausted to do anything but say hello and turn around and head home.
But two days ago, I finally reached my goal. On an unusually warm and sunny near 80 degree day, I did more than just say hello. I visited you for almost an hour and a half. I dug my toes in the sand. I meditated. I stared at bright blue sky as the clouds crept by. I read. I walked to the shoreline with my daughter as she braved the freezing water.
After weeks of not enough fresh air, you were exactly what I needed.
Namaste,
A Believer in Saltwater Therapy

5 Word Friday: My Current Status As Told By a Dog and a Cat

Sixteen days ago I had a hysterectomy. And for 16 days, I’ve never been more aware of every ache and pain in my body, every wave of intense fatigue and every limitation that reminds me I’m in the middle of recovering from major surgery.

Despite all that, I remain positive that I’ll continue to get better every day. In the meantime, here are my dog and my cat to illustrate my current status in 5 words:

Wellness: My One-Word Resolution for 2018

A new year has rolled around once again. And like most people, I spent the last few weeks of 2017 reflecting on the year about to close and outlining goals for the new year to come. 
Did I do everything I hoped I would do in 2017? Did I learn any lessons to bring with me into 2018? And more specifically, did my 2017 one-word resolution bring me what I was looking for, and how would that answer affect my word choice for 2018?
I may not have done everything I set out to do in 2017, but generally speaking, it was a year filled with exactly what I was seeking: Balance. That was my 2017 word, a word so perfect for me that I almost wanted to repeat it for 2018. 
My word helped me to balance my body by incorporating yoga and other exercises into my workout routine to keep me injury-free, by eating more nutritious meals and by drinking more tea and less coffee as per doctors’ orders. I balanced my mind by making meditation and mindfulness daily practices and by returning to my love of reading by carving out time to disappear in a good novel. And I took advantage of my balanced space by using my Meditation Station and making sure it continues to be a stress-free space I can escape to anytime for meditating, practicing yoga or cuddling with my dog, who often joins me for yoga sessions.
By the time I closed out 2017, I really did feel balanced.
But as a writer who prides herself on having original ideas, I knew I had to come up with a new word. Balance had treated me well, but I had to build on that, not repeat it. I had to take those goals accomplished and lessons learned, couple those with the new challenges I found myself facing at the end of 2017 and forge forward with a different word.
Despite my goal to balance every area of my life, my body had something going on that was beyond my control. Towards the end of 2017, when I found I could no longer ignore my near-constant pain and the myriad other pesky symptoms I was experiencing, I was forced to make a decision to advocate for my health and schedule a pretty major surgery that requires a lengthy recovery period. 
Suddenly, my health was in the spotlight, and getting well was all I could think about. Because of that, I knew what my 2018 word needed to be.

That word is:

My surgery was supposed to be shortly after New Year’s, but thanks to the worst timing ever of a blizzard, it was pushed back to this week. I thought by now I’d be almost halfway into my four to six week recovery, in the middle of my total focus on Wellness. But as we all know, life rarely goes as planned.
As I waited for the new surgery date to roll around, I shifted my Wellness focus from recovery to prep. I figured the stronger I am going into surgery, the more solid my recovery will be. I had 20 extra days to run, swim, practice my beloved yoga and meditation, and shed those holiday pounds I inevitably gain the end of every year. 
After surgery this week, my Wellness journey will switch back to recovery. Instead of running shoes and bathing suits, I’ll be focusing on rest and listening to my body’s cues. And then, when my body (and my surgeon) let me know I’m ready in late February or early March, I’ll shift gears again and gradually rediscover Wellness in those running shoes and bathing suits.
Where will my 2018 word bring me from there? I’m not sure. My January has been all about taking life one day at a time, and I imagine I’ll be in wait-and-see mode for a good portion of the first half of this year.
So far, I can say I’ve meditated every day in 2018 thanks to the Calm 30-Day Meditation Challenge I discovered on Twitter. As I learned from my 2017 year of Balance, meditation is beneficial for me in lots of ways, including stress reduction, pain management, sleep aid and maintaining a general sense of calm, so I plan to continue meditating throughout my recovery and beyond as an integral part of my Wellness journey. 
I expect each day my focus might be different than the previous day, but being patient and flexible are also big parts of my Wellness journey. For today, I’m focusing my Wellness on washing my hands like crazy and praying I can go a couple more days without catching the nasty flu that’s going around so this second surgery attempt will happen.

As for tomorrow and the next day and the next day? I’ll just have to wait and see.

15 Inspiring Cheryl Strayed Quotes About Life and Living

I’m a sucker for a good quote. There’s something about making connections between someone else’s words and my own life that makes me pause and think. Whether that pause is to soak in inspiration, wisdom, humor, motivation, an aha moment, or a sense of belonging, I jot down those quotes that speak to me in a running list I’ve had for years.
I recently finished reading Cheryl Strayed’s book, “Tiny Beautiful Things,” which is a collection of her “Dear Sugar” advice columns. As soon as I closed the book after the last page, I knew I needed to read it again. This woman is filled with wisdom about everything from love and relationships to family and loss, offering perspective that could benefit anyone. A beautiful writer with a true ability to dish out advice in a blunt yet kind way, Cheryl Strayed has quickly become one of the most frequently quoted people in my personal collection of favorites.
In need of some perspective? Here are 15 inspiring Cheryl Strayed quotes about life and living:
1. It’s up to you to make your life. Take what you have and stack it up like a tower of teetering blocks. Build your dream around that.”
2. “Don’t surrender all your joy for an idea you used to have about yourself that isn’t true anymore.”
3. “Don’t do what you know on a gut level to be the wrong thing to do.”
4. “Most things will be okay eventually, but not everything will be. Sometimes you’ll put up a good fight and lose. Sometimes you’ll hold on really hard and realize there is no choice but to let go. Acceptance is a small, quiet room.”
5. “I’ll never know, and neither will you, of the life you don’t choose. We’ll only know that whatever that sister life was, it was important and beautiful and not ours. It was the ghost ship that didn’t carry us. There’s nothing to do but salute it from the shore.” 
6. “This is how you get unstuck. You reach.”
7. “Stop worrying about whether you’re fat. You’re not fat. Or rather, you’re sometimes a little bit fat, but who gives a shit?”
8. “Forgiveness doesn’t sit there like a pretty boy in a bar. Forgiveness is the old fat guy you have to haul up a hill.”
9. “You don’t have a right to the cards you believe you should have been dealt. You have an obligation to play the hell out of the ones you’re holding.” 
10. “There are some things you can’t understand yet. Your life will be a great and continuous unfolding.”
11. “At a certain point we get to decide who it is we allow to influence us.”
12. “It is impossible for you to go on as you were before, so you must go on as you never have.”
13. “There are stories you’ll learn if you’re strong enough to travel there. One of them might cure you.” 
14. “Trusting yourself means living out what you already know to be true.”
15. “Nobody’s going to do your life for you. You have to do it yourself, whether you’re rich or poor, out of money or raking it in, the beneficiary of ridiculous fortune or terrible injustice. And you have to do it no matter what is true. No matter what is hard. No matter what unjust, sad, sucky things befall you. Self-pity is a dead-end road. You make the choice to drive down it. It’s up to you to decide to stay parked there or to turn around and drive out.”

Lessons from a Road Trip


A couple of weeks ago, my kids were on Spring Break from school. I took the week off from work. The cat and dog were set to hang out at home with the pet sitter. Our bags were packed, and my parents were waiting with open arms on the other end. All we had to do was get ourselves from Virginia to Florida and our vacation could begin.
Anyone who has looked into flying to Florida during Spring Break months knows you practically have to win the lottery be able to afford four plane tickets. So my boyfriend and I decided to skip the airport and take the more adventurous route and hit the open road. We had already driven the 14-hour trip to my parents’ house twice before, experimenting with both driving straight through in one day and breaking it up with an overnight pit stop. But that was just the two of us when the kids were with their father.
It can’t be that much harder with a 9- and 13-year-old, right?
The kids weren’t immediately convinced, so I took to Facebook and asked my wonderfully experienced and creative mom friends for tips on road tripping with kiddos. Living up to my expectations, my friends filled my feed with so much advice I had to take notes so I wouldn’t forget it all as the trip got closer.
I had every intention of writing this blog post. I just knew the trip would be epic, that I would pull into my driveway a week after we drove off with the best road trip advice to pass along to other families. I would share the tips my friends passed along, as well as others we came up with along the way. Yes, our road would be epic!
Well, our road trip was epic alright. But definitely not in the way I was going for. 
On the way to Florida, we broke the trip into two days. The first day we drove six hours and spent the night in a hotel in South Carolina, where we met up with friends heading in the same direction. We were safe and sound in Florida the following day after another eight hours of driving. We all managed that pretty well so we decided to drive straight through on the return trip. It was the return trip that might be the reason I’ll never get my kids to road trip again.
So what about those expert tips I had teed up? Yeah, those went out the window along with the stench of vomit and rules about gadget usage. All those detailed plans that were supposed to earn me Mom of the Year status disintegrated as each hour of the 16-hour trip home passed and transformed into the following three lessons that are so basic, yet so necessary in their simplicity. I should have started here:

1. Handy essentials are essential.

My 9-year-old daughter has never been carsick. However, for my 13-year-old son, carsickness is a fact of life he’s dealt with on every road trip he’s ever been on. So I always have a steady supply of plastic bags that he knows to grab the second he gets that queasy feeling, and over the years, he’s perfected his aim. While it’s not ideal to sit in an enclosed space with a puking kid, we’ve never had to deal with chain reaction vomit.
That’s why it was so shocking when one minute my daughter said her tummy hurt and the next minute she was puking in a McDonald’s parking lot. Even more shocking when, an hour later, she suddenly grabbed one of those plastic bags in the backseat for round two.
Convinced she had nothing left in her stomach, I figured we were done. My son had taken Dramamine, which worked well for him on both the boat ride we went on in Florida and the first day of the drive there (but not on the second day because, as he learned, it doesn’t work if you don’t take it.)
But an hour later, I heard the rustling of a plastic bag. Apparently, my son was experiencing a delayed chain reaction.
And an hour after that, the kids were tied at two pukes each. 
Round four was the worst round because it came on so suddenly that my poor boy’s perfect aim was off, and he missed the bag. Then, after driving at least ten minutes before an exit finally appeared on the interstate, I had to dig through luggage to find clean clothes and shoes before scrubbing floor mats with baby wipes in a gas station parking lot.
The moral of that story? Have a list of road trip essentials, and keep those essentials handy at any given moment. My list now includes at least 20 plastic bags (for both vomit and vomit-covered items that need to be double bagged so the smell doesn’t set off another chain reaction), baby wipes, ginger ale, gum, a change of clothes for each kid and the Dramamine that will knock those kids out (rather than the “non-drowsy natural” crap I bought).

2. Seating arrangements matter.

I have fond memories of my childhood summer vacations, trips that always involved a road trip. Whether my father was driving us from New Jersey to Cape Cod or to Myrtle Beach, the seating arrangements never varied. My brother sat in the backseat behind my father, I sat behind my mother on the passenger side. Sometimes we all talked. Sometimes we entertained ourselves individually with a Walkman, toys, books or crafts. There was never talk of switching assigned seats.
Maybe those childhood memories are the reason I didn’t relinquish my seat in the front of the car, even though I knew my son’s bouts with carsickness would greatly decrease if he sat in the front. Or maybe it’s because I wanted so badly for my children to bond and use the forced proximity to figure out a way to pass more than 15 minutes at a time without fighting. Or maybe it’s because I’m not crazy about the backseat. After all, my boy inherited the carsickness gene from someone.
But after the last vomit stop I gave my son the front seat. He felt better the rest of the trip, his sister was happy to be in the back with someone who allowed her to stretch out beyond the barricade they had created to keep each other on their own sides, and once I popped a couple of Dramamine myself, I discovered cuddling in the backseat with my girl and a pile of pillows wasn’t so bad.
Moral of that story? Most carsick person gets the front seat.

3. Don’t try to be Mom of the Year.

I planned to have a fancy binder for each child that contained maps, destination information, coloring pages, Bingo and other games. I envisioned the four of us coming up with elaborate, hilarious stories where each person adds a sentence for maximum interactive word play. I had podcasts lined up that I had researched and approved for age-appropriateness and attention-holding subject matter. Seriously, Mom of the Year material!
Let’s just say those binders never came to fruition because the kids said they sounded boring. And let’s also say those elaborate “add a sentence” stories lasted maybe five minutes because every sentence the kids added included the words “poop” or “fart” or a synonym of “poop” and “fart,” and five minutes was about all the patience I had for that. And those podcasts? Thankfully, the daughter of the friends we met up with in South Carolina recommended one because all the others I researched and downloaded were deemed too boring to listen to.
So after all the vomit and the declarations of boredom and the “get off my side!” fights and the “can we get back on screens yet?” whines and the countless failed attempts to interact with my children, I remembered another road trip tip shared by a Facebook friend: “We do what we must to survive.”
I was not going to win Mom of the Year, and as I gave the kids permission to get back on their devices (again), I decided that I didn’t need to. We had an awesome Spring Break, spending time with each other and my parents, staying active and having fun. This 16-hour road trip was just one day out of our lives, and I had no energy left to try and implement mandatory fun. It just wasn’t worth spending time with an inner debate with my mommy guilt. As my wise friend wrote on my Facebook thread, “They will not die over this, right?”
Moral of that story? Buy the plane tickets.

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