Summer Adventures are Coming Our Way!

Every summer, at some point, I say, “We should…”

As in, “We should go there” and “We should do that.” And guess what? Summer ends and we didn’t go there or do that.

This year, I’m creating a Friday Fun Adventure Map. I have created a work schedule that allows me to be at home part of the week, and I have left Fridays wide open. Sometimes, that’s because we have a family vacation planned—I’ll be sharing this year’s big trip to Italy! Sometimes, it’s just nice to have downtime.

But, I’ve decided to find another day for downtime and instead, to have an adventure with my daughter at LEAST every other Friday this summer.

So far, I’ve made a list of fun things we have never done in a one hour radius. I’m going to have several of them on cards turned over so we can’t see them. (I’ll have a section for rainy day activities as well, although with all of the amazing kid friendly movies on their way—thanks Disney—rainy Fridays might be saved for movies).

On Wednesday night, we will pick a card and go to that location! (I feel like I need to give myself some time to pack what we need and rope some other moms and kids into joining us on our day of fun occasionally.

Why am I writing this? Because I need to be held accountable. Watch out for more posts about our adventures in June!

5 Things to Have on a Trip (That will Help You Pack Light!)

I travel a lot and for the most part, have mastered the art of packing light. (I even wrote about it for The Knot this past summer!) It’s hard not to throw in a ton of outfits (because you love your clothes so much and we never really know what situation will occur), the reality is that with careful planning, sticking to a color code, and wearing your heaviest items on the plane, you can pack easily for a week in a carry on bag. However, I can’t make that happen without these five items!

Downy Wrinkle Releaser

Thought I try to pack things that won’t wrinkle easily, sometimes I need a garment for a work event or wedding that will wrinkle no matter what. Downy Wrinkle Releaser is literally a miracle product. I don’t travel without it. An added bonus is that it makes your clothes smell fresh if you’re wearing them more than once!

Shout Wipe and Go

These wipes remove stains quickly. (I’ve gotten out blood, wine, and ketchup with them) and they’re tiny. I actually keep these in my purse regularly for food mishaps at the office. Again, if you intend to wear a item more than once, these are a must have!

The Laundress Wash and Stain Bar

Though I don’t typically need something like this for a long weekend, if I’m traveling out of the country or for over a week in a hotel, this is a must for washing items that might need to be cleaned. In fact in a warmer climate, this is perfect for hand washing bathing suits and other items for multiple wear and hanging outside to dry.

Clorox Disinfecting Wipes

This is a personal must have for me because I watch to many TV shows that show all of the germs at airplanes and hotels. I feel a like my clothes and items are a little cleaner if I’ve wiped down surfaces with these wipes.

Packing Cubes & Baggies

I’m actually new to packing cubes, but they make a big difference! You can fit more into your suitcase by organizing like items in these. I tend to keep underwear and socks rolled neatly in ziploc baggies. You can squeeze the air out of them and they will lay flat in your suitcase.

I’d love to hear what tips you have for packing light! Comment on this post OR tweet them to me at @juliakayporter.

Friendships in Adulthood...It's Harder Than It Seems

I’m working on an article about friendships and working moms and it got me thinking about friendship and adulthood in general.

It’s rough to make new friends when you’re grown up. When you’re a kid, your friends are presented to you either at school, in extra curricular activities, or through your friends. As we grow up, we’re looking for more in friendships than just finding people who like the same things.

The reality is, with technology, friendships are evolving and we can stay in touch with our friends who have moved far away. But, there are other aspects of friendship we don’t have to deal with in adulthood.

If it’s Not Working, Move on
When you were younger, you had to hang out with someone if your mom made you, but you’re in charge now. If you don’t have enough in common, if it’s more work than fun or if you’re giving more than you’re getting, you don’t need to be friends with that person. I mean, obviously you should be respectful and kind to everyone, but your time is valuable and you’re not obligated to share it with someone that doesn’t value you.

If you Have to Buy Their Products, It’s Not Friendship
The Washington Post noted today that female friendships are suffering due to MLMs. On multiple occasions, people from my past have friended me on social meda—only to sell me a product. When I say I’m not interested, they’re not interested in anything else. I also feel guilty when friends ask me to buy their products—when I don’t, it sometimes complicates things. No judgement if you’re part of an MLM, but don’t get mad at your friends who aren’t “supporting your business” if they aren’t interested in the product and don’t push people away by pushing a product they have no interest in. I have lost many friends because of this and it’s rough.

You Need People Who “Get You” In Your Life
You guys. Life is hard. We are working, we have kids, we have family obligations, and we have homes to clean and groceries to buy. It’s a lot. If people don’t understand your passions, your goals, your day to day life…it’s not going to work. I’m not saying to cut out people in your life that don’t have children if you do, aren’t married if you are, etc., but if they can’t understand that you can’t always answer a text immediately because you’re in a meeting or that you can’t have lunch on Tuesdays because your kid has dance class, it’s going to make you feel guilty for something you can’t control. I keep my “friendship space” open for people who are like minded, are there for me, and who understand why I do what I do and value what I value.

If They’re Always Critical, It’s Not for You
This just doesn’t work for anyone. If someone’s criticizing you constantly from what you’re doing in your life to how you’re doing it, then maybe they’re not happy in the friendship either. You have too much on your plate to worry about pleasing someone that might not be able to be pleased.

Listen, you’re grown up. You choose how late you stay up, how you raise your kids, where you vacation and guess what, you can choose your friends.

Finding "Me Time" in a Chaotic Day

You read it all the time…find time for yourself. It seems difficult, especially when you’re a parent. But, like everyone else says, it’s so important for your happiness and sanity.

This infographic explains it best: From recharging and unwinding to allowing yourself time to better problem solve and cope, “me time” is essential. So, how do you do it? Here’s how I make it happen!

Plan Everything

I schedule everything—not just in my work calendar on my phone, but in a paper planner where I can see my entire day and see what times are free and unaccounted for. I’m a fan of the Passion Planner because it allows for goal planning and reflective journaling as well (something I like to do in my free time). I often find slots of time I would undoubtedly waste on social media that I fill with something valuable that makes me happy (like reading a chapter of a book!) Get your Passion Planner Here!

Find Simple Pleasures that fit in Small Time Slots

I love knitting, but with work, keeping up with housework, and running my daughter to her activities, it’s hard to fit it in. I’ve noticed though that I often have a few minutes during drop off time and pick up at preschool, while I’m waiting at the doctor’s office, or even while overseeing activities at home where I can knit a few stitches. Instead of just sitting idly during these small time slots we all have in our day, have something handy that makes you happy, whether it be a book, crossword puzzle, craft, or even just a few minutes to call someone you love!

Share “Me Time” with a Friend

Though we think of me time as solitary time (and that’s still important), find an activity that you like to do with a friend and schedule it in. Make time to do it. Plan in advance if you need to. In fact, my husband and I have football season tickets and a subscription to a regional theater in the summer. This is time we schedule well in advance to do something together that gives us joy. Because we plan it so far in advance, childcare isn’t as tricky.

I’m blessed with a supportive spouse who understands the need to do things that make us happy, so we are quick to take over for the other when we need a moment of peace!

What things do you do to find your “me time”? Tweet them to me at @juliakayporter!

Fast and Fun Thanksgiving Craft with Your Kiddos!

If you’re like me, Thanksgiving snuck up on you this year. If you’re looking for a fun project, try Joann’s Turkey Napkin Rings!

They were quick and fun. I had to help with the fabric glue so my soon to be four year old didn’t have felt stuck to her dress, but she enjoyed cutting (with supervision), putting on the googly eyes, and of course, showcasing the finished project.

I will say, make sure you hold the felt carefully for multiple minutes (we had an eye pop early on!)

Overall, this was fun (fast) and will be perfect for any Thanksgiving table! (Also, I’m a bit of a perfectionist, so it was hard to give up the reins and let her do her own cutting!)

If you have a crafty kid (or you’re a crafty kid at heart!) this is a perfect way to celebrate!

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Shop for Gifts and Support a Child in Need

If you’re like me, you’re hard at work making a list and shopping for holiday gifts for your friends and family. If you’re really like me, you’re selective about where you shop. My favorite places are small businesses and those companies that support an amazing cause.

Beyond Beanie is one such company. When you purchase from them, you’re not only supporting a an Artisan in Bolivia, but you’re also helping a child in need. The purchase of one beanie=5 meals, one bracelet=dental care, one bag=a set of school supplies and one poncho=one school uniform.

If this isn’t enough to help you make a purchase, how about a discount code? Use code JULIAKAY25 for 25% off your purchase.

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I've gone MIA...for a good reason!

If you’re a follower of this blog, I’m so grateful.

Though I set a goal to write at least every other week, I’ve gotten swamped, and it’s all very good—I hope to get back to my blog schedule soon, but in the meantime, I’ve been working on some amazingly meaningful articles for me personally at adoption.com, and having a blast with my other freelance work, which you can check out here.

Also, I work at a university and for the first time in a few years got back into teaching on top of my other position. Not to mention, my daughter started PRESCHOOL this August. It’s all been a whirlwind, but a great one (with a quick trip to Disney thrown in the mix!).

In the meantime, if there’s anything in particular your’e interested in me writing about, don’t hesitate to ask!

Patience is a Virtue...But It's Hard When You're Waiting to Reach Your Dreams!

Full disclosure: I'm 37 years old and it's only been in the past year that I've been in a job that doesn't feel like work: one that I'm passionate about. I also have the ability to do something else I've wanted to do for a long time: write! 

I've had the opportunity to chat with a lot of 20 somethings about what they hoped their life would be like and how they hope to get to a place of career and personal satisfaction. It isn't always easy.

This didn't come to me as quickly as I always wanted. 
My career is the product of 22 years of education (yup--12 years of school like everyone else, but then 4 years to earn my BS, 3 years to earn my MA while I was teaching HS full time, and then 3 years in a PhD program, while I was also working and adopting my daughter!) I've also worked in other positions that weren't necessarily my dream job, but that gave me the vital experience I needed to be where I am today. 

I've Been Realistic
I've spent most of my career in education. I know that "world" works and that you have to get certain credentials and degrees. I've also always wanted to write for various publications--again, you have to pay your dues, get experience writing, etc. A lot of people in my life have been a little "too" encouraging and maybe weren't always realistic, so it was important that I was!

I Didn't Give Up On My Dreams (And I'm not "waiting to retire" to do things!)
I have never given up on my dreams and goals. Ever. I just understood I had to do certain things to make my way to where I am today and I've always been writing on the side to build up my portfolio of published articles. It wasn't easy and going to graduate school while working wasn't easy either--but it's what got me to where I am. In talking to a 25 year old recently, she said she wanted to do other things too like travel, but her parents encouraged her that those were things she should wait to do until retirement. I don't prescribe to that notion. I am of the "work hard play hard" thought. I want to do things now, so I plan dream trips regularly with my family--time isn't promised to us and depending on your career path, retirement may not come when you expect it to. 

Everyone reaches their goals at different times--you can't base your life off of someone else's, but you also shouldn't be discouraged if you're not where you thought you'd be..you'll get there!