New Perspectives

We are a month into our project, “Dedicating one year to life.”  I am shocked by the difference a month has made.  The family has made huge progress toward our goals.  The kids are adapting to the changes.  We have been trying to make the changes at a slow pace to give us all time to adapt but sometimes I feel like we are on a freight train barreling down the tracks to a completely different life and there is simply no stopping now.  Maybe this is a good thing.

I have high-functioning anxiety.  I have for as long as I can remember.  It got much worse after becoming a parent.  It is something I hide and never speak of.  I even tried to hide this in the middle of a paragraph with a disclaimer at the beginning when I wrote this.  I have gotten very good at avoiding things that make me uncomfortable.  I have big dreams and I am honestly afraid to live them.  Just admitting this to myself was an issue.  Writing this is giving me palpitations.  I am trying to be brave.  I keep telling myself that I don’t have to hit publish.  I could just delete this and nobody will ever know.  I know I need to confront my fears.  I know that many of them are irrational.  I am afraid that if we continue to do this project that I am going to be confronted by some big things.  I am more afraid that if I stop now that I am going to be a bitter old lady that let fear ruin her dreams.  I have overcome some of my fears over time and it has always been for the best.  I have a list of excuses about why I can’t live my dreams that I have been hiding behind.  This project is breaking down those hurdles. 

I have grown as a person as I spend more time thinking about what I truly want in life and perhaps more importantly, what I don’t.  I always read these articles or hear these stories where the people “gave it all up” to travel the world.  I will admit that I am down right envious of those folks.  I often feel like I “gave it all up” to live the American dream.  You know the one.  A nice house in the suburbs full of crap that you don’t need.  The two cars, two fulltime jobs, kids in a good school kind of life that you didn’t know came with fun add-ons such as debt, stagnation of dreams, an ever-expanding waistline, and boredom.

I have spent a lot of time getting to know what I really want.  I have always known that I have some very big dreams.  I also always knew that there was no way that I was ever going to do any of them.  It was just one of those unspoken things between my husband and I…or so I thought.  Because of this project I found out that when my husband said that he would do any of those things with me and he thought that we could do them, he was being…SERIOUS!  I had no idea.  This information has been a bit of a shock.  I took the time to go over all the crazy things I have tucked away for someday.  I am planning, truly planning, my five-year plan based on things that I actually want.  Our list of things stopping us from living our dreams gets shorter everyday.

I’m still scared but I’m ready.

Freddy’s Steakburgers

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We recently took the kids to dinner at Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers in Amelia, Ohio. The food is made fresh to order. The steakburger patties are thin so they cook very fast. I went with the classic. The beef was well seasoned. The shoestring fries are thin and crispy! They were very good. However, the star of the show is the fry sauce. This creamy sauce is the perfect complement to the crispy fries. Bottomless drink refills and unlimited fry sauce are at a self-service area near the food pick-up window.

The place is perfect for a fun, family dinner. It’s not the healthiest stop but sometimes it’s alright to indulge a little. The kid’s meal is basically slightly smaller portions of the same food. The whole family enjoyed themselves. I cannot comment on the custard they serve for dessert. We were too full from the large meals to want dessert. It is an affordable dining option with meals coming in under $10 per person.

Parky’s Wetland Adventure

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Looking for an affordable, kid-friendly outing on a hot summer day in Cincinnati?  Consider a trip to Parky’s Wetland Adventure on the Eastside.  It’s in Woodland Mound Park which is part of the Hamilton County parks system.  It’s $3.50 each for kids ages 2-12.

We have been trying to visit all the different parks around Cincinnati. There are so many of them! It may keep us busy for ages. Isabella, six years old, loved it. The place is a perfect way to run off some energy and enjoy the heat. There is also a toddler section so we may revisit this with Octavia when she is a little older. Ivy was too old to play here.  She and I had time to chat while Isabella played with kids her age. Octavia slept through most of our trip. She’s a newborn and sleeps a lot.  The view of the river from the benches at the back was amazing!

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They have a snack/drink shop and picnic tables to eat at. After Isabella was done playing in the water, we grabbed a drink and quick snack. We chose to sit at the picnic tables near the playground next door to the waterpark instead. The girls had a lot of fun playing at the playground that is built into a hill. The tables were at the top of the hill so I could watch them playing.

There is also a nature center near the waterpark area that is free and worth a visit. It was a fun place to visit for a bit. There were plants and local animals. There was a short trail right by it that we walked. We had a lot of fun. This place is definitely a great way to spend a hot summer afternoon with the kids.

STARLITE DRIVE-IN

Do you want to feel like you have stepped into a family night from the past?  You can do just that at the Starlite Drive-in!  We enjoyed an old-fashioned night out with our kids.  I was trying to find a place for a family night that the girls would enjoy but that would be a good option for a newborn.  Octavia is only a month old.

I stumbled upon this while searching options in the greater Cincinnati area. The Starlite Drive-in is located in Amelia, OH.  This is an extremely affordable option for taking a family to the movies. They do a double feature.  Prices are currently: 12 and up is $8.75 and kids 4-11 are $5.25. Three and under are free. You can buy a food permit for $5 and bring in outside food.  I stopped at the grocery earlier in the day and picked up some favorite snack food.  We brought a cooler for juice and water bottles. The entire outing cost us under $50.

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We took the minivan for this trip. We turned the backseat around and laid out blankets in the back.  The kids had a blast.  I didn’t have to worry about where to feed the baby.  Best of all we got to spend some time together snuggling and it gave us a great memory.  Your kids only stay little for a short time.  Make as many amazing memories as you can!

Tips for Packing for Kids

Packing for children can be quite tedious and leave you questioning every choice. You don’t want to be bogged down by heavy luggage but you also do not want to be stuck without a spare outfit when you need it most. The first step to deciding how many outfits your child needs is to figure out what their normal daily needs are at home. Do they get dirty a lot? Are they toilet trained? Then consider where you are going and what your activities will be. Will you be outside? Any special outings that require a nicer option? What will the weather be like? Do you need to layer to accommodate changes throughout the day?

My oldest child is 15 so her needs are similar to an adult. I tell her if there is weight/space limitations. She typically brings an outfit for each day of a short trip plus a couple extra options. She may wear jeans or shorts more than once if it’s a city or mostly indoor trip. She will bring one nicer outfit to change into before a nicer dinner or outing. She will bring an extra swimsuit and sundress. Teens are capable of packing their own bags with little to no guidance. Travel is a learning experience. Packing and planning ahead is part of that learning. Make sure to give your teen ample time. When a teen makes poor choices, fails to plan, or waits until the last-minute, you must decide if you are going to bail them out or use it as a learning experience.

Children between 5 and 12 need more guidance. They can and should help with planning and packing for their personal needs. I tell my 6-year-old where we will be going and what type of outfit that requires for each day. She lays out her choices and I check to see if they are appropriate. I pack the good choices. I explain why inappropriate choices will not work and give her a chance to try again. Set very clear limits on toys. This may include the number of items, the size/weight of the toy, if it’s an electronic toy, if it needs to be quiet, and the space within the bag that can be allocated to toys. You may need to offer guidance and supervision depending on your child’s personality, age, and level of experience with these sort of tasks.

Babies through preschool age children require more thought into what to pack. How much to take will really be child dependent. A baby with reflux or frequent diaper blowouts will take extra planning. Can extra bibs help offset some of the need? Do not forget to take this into consideration when packing for yourself. I carry an old shirt for myself in the diaper bag at all times since I had the pleasure of driving home in a sports bra after a diaper blowout in a baby carrier at a park. Assume that a toddler and preschooler will get dirty or wet if the opportunity presents itself. You can let toddlers and preschoolers help by choosing between two items or by handing you things. You can also give preschoolers the ability to pick out favorite clothing pieces to build an outfit around. The more involved they are at this age the more independently they can pack later.

We aim for a couple extra outfits per week/trip for school age children and 1-2 extra outfits per day for babies through preschoolers. There are ways to work these extra items in without feeling like you have majorly over-packed. I typically pack 1-2 extra sundresses for my girls when going someplace warm because they are lightweight options. A swimsuit top can be worn in a pinch. I pack comfortable clothing to use as pajamas that can double as regular clothing in case of emergency. This is my go to for short trips and camping. Do you need your kids to be clean for dinner but don’t want to pack a ton of extra clothing? Consider having them wear the next days clothing to dinner. This has worked for us for normal dining options many times. Casual dresses and button downs with khakis can work on a child at nicer restaurants and still be comfortably worn for sightseeing. A clean onesie is all that’s needed for a baby in warm areas and a sleeper is acceptable in cooler ones. Babies are cute no matter what they are wearing so no need to stress over the perfect outfit for everything.

Beware of buying new clothing for little kids for a trip. It’s a lot of extra pressure. They may not like the way it feels. It may get dirty or even ruined. It may get lost. Remember that this is supposed to be enjoyable. Relax your standards a little. A stained shirt is not the end of the world. Let the kids be kids. Let things go so that you can enjoy yourself.