Thursday, August 11, 2016

A Virtual Baby Shower

Most of us have family spread across the country.  My oldest daughter moved across the country to Tennessee and married a wonderful man.  It was a challenge for all of her family and friends in Arizona to travel across the country for her wedding and not everyone was able to make the trip. 

I was completely thrilled when my daughter and new son-in-law called to tell us that they were expecting.  I have been looking forward to becoming a grandma and I know my grandchild will be loved by so many.  I wanted to make sure to include family and friends near and far in the celebration of this new addition to our family, but how could I accomplish a baby shower that would include everyone. 
In today’s world of technology there are so many options to connect with others so I decided to try something fun and new – a virtual baby shower. 

First I created an event on Facebook and invited family and loved ones all across the country, but I did not include the expecting Mom in hopes of surprising her.  I did some Google searches and found some fun Baby Shower games and activities that could be adapted for our virtual shower.  
Each day I tried to add a fun fact, game or activity as well as sharing info about the baby gift registries that she had signed up for. 

I did have several folks who were confused by the concept, but with a little explanation they were quick to jump on board. 

Here are just a few of the fun activities I posted

The day of the event I invited my daughter and told her all about it.  She had the chance to scroll through all of the fun wishes from her friends and family.  She loved reading the responses to all of the shower games.  I will admit it was not the same as being there in person – but this was a fun way to include everyone. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Life from a Different Point of View

Have you seen this picture?  It has been circulating social media for quite awhile.  Many of us relate to the little girl on the right, joyfully being herself and making her own rules in life. 

I was definitely that little girl.  I got lost in daydreams, I became so engrossed in books that I lost track of the world around me.  I didn’t worry too much about what others thought of me. 

My mother used to share stories about watching me at dance class.  Parents sat behind a two-way mirror while their children did their best to follow along with the strict ballet instructor.  While other students were carefully paying attention, I was staring at my reflection, twirling around and generally doing my own thing.  It was clear I would never become a prima ballerina, but it was also clear that I was someone who would make my own way in life.

 I have always had a certain amount of disregard for rules.  I am so grateful to my Mom who taught me to stand up for myself.  I am not afraid to challenge authority and fight for what I believe in. I think that most people who know me would agree that I am still very much like that little girl - joyfully making up her own way of doing things.  

Friday, July 29, 2016

Would you go on a surprise vacation?

I LOVE to travel.  I have always loved to visit new places.  My mother always said I had wanderlust.  I have travelled with my husband. I have travelled with my daughters.  I have travelled by myself.  I have now travelled to 40 out of the 50 states and over 16 foreign countries. 

Yes, I think Travel is encoded in my DNA so I was really intrigued when I heard about a fun new travel trend – Surprise travel.   I saw a post that a friend shared on Facebook that introduced a new company called PackUp & Go. 

According to the Pack Up & Go website, “Pack Up + Go plans 3-day weekend trips around the United States. All you have to do is tell us your budget and fill out a quick survey.  We'll take care of your travel + accommodation arrangements - all while keeping your destination a surprise.”

According to Lonely Planet, “Customers have a choice of embarking on a road trip (starting at $450 per person) or booking a vacation that includes air travel (from $650). All you have to do is choose your dates and tell the company your budget, and then fill out a quick survey and check off a list of things you enjoy, such as craft beer, live music, comedy clubs, outdoor activities, etc.” Your plans include an itinerary based on your survey answers. 

I am sure this kind of travel isn’t for everyone, but for those with an adventurous spirit, the company does all the planning and you simply show up when they tell you.

I am so excited about this concept – I am thinking of doing a surprise trip for my husband’s birthday.  I promise to share about our experience. 

Is a surprise trip something you would enjoy?  You can check out their website at

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Beware of Discount Airlines

 I should have known better.  I will admit that.  The warning signs were all there, but I forged ahead because the low price was so tempting.  I was planning a trip to see my daughter in Tennessee and my husband found the irresistible ‘low fares’ of Allegiant Airlines.   I mean sure it only flew to Memphis, three hours away from where we wanted to go, but hey – I have always wanted to check out Memphis.  I could just rent a car and make this a fun bonus to our vacation. 

And yes, the flights are ONLY on Fridays and Mondays – I mean that’s a little weird, but hey with such a low price we could work around that. 

Then the fees started to add up.  Extra fees for luggage – okay lots of airlines do that.  Extra fees for a carry-on bag?  Well the price is really low.  An extra fee to reserve a seat?  Well I can’t stand the whole flight.  An extra fee if I don’t print my boarding pass at home?  That could be a challenge when I am travelling – what if I don’t have a printer?  Charging for drinks and snacks on the plane – gosh these fees are really adding up, the price is still low, but not nearly as low as it seemed at first. 

I was happy once we got to Memphis, and we enjoyed our vacation, but as we got on the road to return to Memphis I got a text saying our flight was cancelled.  That’s it – no other info, just cancelled.  What do I do now – I have to turn in the rental car. I don’t live in Memphis.  I have to get home.  What am I supposed to do?  I tried calling the airlines.  I waited on hold for over 45 minutes and finally got through to an agent who simply said, the flight is cancelled. I asked how I am supposed to get home.  He replied, “We will have another flight tomorrow.”   Ummm – tomorrow?  How does that help me today?  He then says he can refund the return portion of my trip.  Sure but you guys are the lowest cost airline – how am I supposed to get home?  No response from the agent. 

Thank goodness for technology – my daughter got online and found a flight home, unfortunately the cost was $500 more than the Allegiant flight. 

I have tried to contact the airlines to get back the extra cost I had to pay to get home, but the only option to contact them is via e-mail and according to their website it can take up to 60 days for a response.  I’m not too optimistic but I will keep trying. 

Unfortunately it was a very expensive lesson for me – Beware of discount airlines.  You really do get what you pay for.  Next trip I will use Southwest, I may pay a bit more up front, but I am fairly sure I will have less frustration. 

Monday, July 25, 2016

My thoughts on Race & the Black Lives Matter Movement

I am an unapologetic liberal.  I have always believed that everyone is deserving of love, no matter what the color of their skin or the person they choose to love.  I worked hard to ensure that my children were raised to judge people on their actions, not their skin color, national heritage or religion. This message has never been more important than it is today.  In a country that seems to be so racially divided, we need people to challenge racist views. 

I recently had the incredible privilege to visit the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis Tennessee.  Walking through the museum with my daughter was such a moving experience.  The story of racism in a divided America is not a new story.  The museum exhibits provide a tangible demonstration of the dangers of intolerance.  I was looking at the burned up shell of the Freedom Riders bus and the jail cell where Dr. King spent time for his challenges to segregation laws and I was struck with such a sense of frustration and a resolve to challenge the racism that seems to persist in this country. 

In what can only be seen as a perfect example of ironic timing, I had reserved a room at the famed Peabody Hotel in downtown Memphis.  My girls loved the story of the Peabody ducks when they were younger and I thought it would be such a fun experience to see the duck march in person.  As my daughter and I sat in the luxurious lobby, we started a conversation about the lack of diversity among the hotel guests, and the concept of what white privilege actually means.  It seemed so appropriate that the day after our museum visit, there was a large Black Lives Matter demonstration march in Memphis.  I heard the protesters as they marched right past our hotel.  My daughter and I went outside to cheer on the marchers.  We met some wonderful people, and we felt so energized by the marchers.  

I have heard many misinformed but well-intentioned friends discard the Black Lives Matter movement, using the "All Lives Matter" slogan.  I really believe that many of these individuals truly do not understand the dismissive and racist nature of using #AllLivesMatter.  There is no question that all lives do indeed matter, but that has absolutely nothing to do with the #BlackLivesMatter movement.  The BLM movement is trying to address the significant disparities in how people of color have been and are still being treated in this country, very much like the protests led by Dr. King.

I read a wonderful and simple explanation for people who do not understand this message.  If your house was on fire and you called the fire department, imagine if they sprayed water on your neighbor’s house instead of the flames in your house.  You yell to the firemen and scream “But my house is on fire” and the firefighter responds “But all houses matter”.  It would seem like an absurd response – because obviously not all houses have the same need at that moment.  The Black Lives Matter movement is a clear message that the African American community is feeling marginalized and disenfranchised, and there are some very real challenges to deal with.  Being dismissive of the movement does not address any of these issues. 

As we continue to deal with the most divisive election in this century, it is important to remember the lessons of the 1950’s and 1960’s.  Dr. King gave his life in pursuit of true equality for all Americans.  Standing at the Lorriane motel in Memphis, looking at the exact location where a murderer took the life of Dr. King, the message and the meaning of Black Lives Matter has never been more important.