The BadAssMama's Guide to Vacation Prep

No more classes, no more's that time of year! It's time for summer vacation...or at least a few long weekends here and there if you're anything like me.

While vacation with kids is really better defined as "family time" than the 100% relaxation that vacation represented in our pre-kid lives, it is a chance to take a break from the daily grind and reconnect with what matters most. It's also a great opportunity to let someone ELSE take care of the cooking and cleaning for a few days.

While I'm certainly no expert, I have a few sure-fire tricks that help to make preparing for my annual family vacation go a bit more smoothly. I hope these can help you enjoy your family time even more:
  • Go for the upgrade - Many hotels (even the value chains) are willing to upgrade a family with 2 kids or more to a "junior suite" for no additional fee. A junior suite will give you enough room to let the kids run around without slamming into the corner of the dresser and ending up in the local hospital. They usually come equipped with a sleeper sofa and extra room for a rollaway bed or pack-and-play (giving the grown ups the opportunity to watch TV or have some private time in the evening, rather than going to bed at the same time as the kids). These expanded rooms often include a kitchenette (with refrigerator and microwave), which leads me to tip #2.
  • Order ahead - In my opinion, grocery delivery (both at home and on the road) is a mom's best friend. Order juice, milk, fruit, breakfast cereal and snacks to save on your restaurant bills while away from home. For those with little ones, save the packing space and add diapers, wipes and pull-ups to your order. Many family resorts will keep your perishables in cold storage if they arrive before your room is ready. Garden Grocer delivers directly to all Disney resorts in Orlando. Even if you're not splurging on a major destination trip, most cities have Peapod or Fresh Direct delivery service available. Just call the hotel to make sure they can store any cold items if your room is not ready upon arrival. If grocery delivery is not available, Google the closest grocery store to your hotel and stock up on arrival.
  • Have breakfast in bed - Nothing sets the day off in the wrong direction like a vacation morning that feels more rushed than your typical Monday. While it might be nice to have a leisurely hotel breakfast each day, chances are the breakfast buffet line will be overflowing with your fellow tourists ten minutes before you need to be on the bus for your next excursion, the pancakes will taste like rocks and the coffee will be burnt. Save yourself the disappointment and some money and eat breakfast in your hotel room each morning. The kids can have cereal in their PJs while they watch cartoons (they'll be up at 5am anyway...) and you can enjoy your coffee at a more leisurely pace.
  • Hide from your kids - At least once a day, you need to carve out some time for yourself, or you'll need a vacation AFTER your vacation. While ideally you would be able to bring a grandparent (or a babysistter) on the trip to give you a good chunk of "me" time each day, chances are this isn't going to happen. So make a deal with your spouse/travel companion to take turns sleeping late, make time for a massage, time by the pool with a good book or just a quiet cup of tea sans kids. Trust me, even 20 minutes a day can make ALL the difference in the world.
  • Do laundry - OK, this may seem like an oxmoron, but my BIGGEST vacation tip is to take time to do ALL of your laundry before you go home. Nothing kills your vacation buzz faster than feeling like Cinderella in your laundry room for 3 days after you get off the plane. Add laundry detergent to your grocery order, get quarters from the front desk and do all of your laundry the day before you go home. There is nothing more joyous (to me, at least) than transferring clean clothes directly from your suitcase to your drawers when you get home. Trust me on this one...
  • P-L-A-Y - It may be tempting to focus on keeping your schedule, making sure that no toys are left behind and that you make it to the airport on time but you will only TRULY enjoy your vacation if you take some time to relax and actually connect with your kids. Play tag, have a pillow fight, build a fort out of sheets, have a race down the hallway to your room every night before bed. I mean, come on, if you're just going to focus on your to-do list it would be easier to do that at home.

Makeup Mondays with D'Angelo Thompson

Beauty is a Sensual Experience...
by D'Angelo Thompson

As we prep ourselves for the day or night, make it a sensuous/conscious way of celebrating your temple. Whether it's bath or shower gels, natural hair shampoos, moisturizer for your face/body, fragrance and grooming. Take your time and do it as a celebration of all that is you!

Change IS Good

It's crazy how something as small as a haircut can change everything.

Let me explain.

I've been a bit MIA from the blog for the past few weeks - partly because of vacation, but mainly because I've had a wicked case of writer's block. Combined with life block, parenting block, marriage block, career block, overall personal and professional development block.

Or maybe it was just a mid-life crisis.

In either case, I've been hiding from the blog because every time sat down to write, I felt so overwhelmed with the perceived hot mess that my life has become that the words would simply not come out of me. It was like my life was one massive bout of PMS. You know, when nothing is wrong but EVERYTHING is wrong? Yeah - like that.

I thought that vacation might cure my blues. Some time away from never-ending daily grind might help me to push through and find my temporarily misplaced mojo. Six days of gorgeous weather, good swimsuit choices, room service and housekeeping later I was still a hot mess. Rather than focusing on the joy in my kids' eyes as they raced through the amusement park, played fooseball for the first time and hopped exclusively on the circles down the hotel hallway, all I could think about was how exhausted I was, how I wished they would just sleep past 6am, stop having tantrums and throwing things at each other. I was irritated with my husband, irritated with kids, irritated with everyone else's kids around me and extraordinarily irritated with myself.

We came back from vacation on Tuesday and still I could not shake my funk. The next morning as my kids ran around like tiny lunatics in the background, I stumbled groggily to the bathroom to at least shake the funk from my breath. I looked in the mirror and found yet another reason to be irritable. My hair was a hot mess. As any Black woman with a relaxer will tell you, every few years, despite our best efforts, the hair starts to break. For me, it was a big section in the center of my head accompanied by an annoying faux-bang worth of breakage in the front.

Then something clicked - I might not be able to simplify my commute, my kids or my career - but I could simplify my hair. It was like a lightbulb went off. After 26 years of relaxers, I wanted natural hair. It fit better with my lifestyle and exercise habits and I actually liked how I looked with short hair - I just hated the upkeep of going for a relaxer touch up every 2 weeks. A short, natural cut was perfect!

So, I did it. No hesitation, no planning, no delay. I found a way to simplify my life and I grabbed it with both hands. And guess what? I LOVE it! And it's inspired me to try new things in other areas of my life. So, if I don't like how much I'm yelling at my kids - I'm going to try something new! Want more romance with my main guy? Be spontaneous! I do not have to be defined by the way my life has "always been". I have the power to change it at any time.

And to think...all of this inspiration from a little haircut

Vacation time!

The sun is shining, the grill is clean and preschool graduation is tomorrow. You know what that means - The BadAssMama is heading out on vacation! I'm going to take a much-needed tech break as well. So, I'll be signing off now - see you all later next week...

Beauty Mondays with D'Angelo Thompson


Inner Glow
By D'angelo Thompson

I LOVE talking about and doing make up...regardless of how beautiful a client looks it's about how she feels within. So today, find a quiet space for 5 to 10 minutes and check in with your inner voice and ask HOW AM I DOING? If you can take a few minutes a day and do this, answers will come and their will be an inner glow no one can touch!

D'angelo Thompson, make up, groomer, beauty educator, blogger  and author

Makeup Mondays with D'Angelo Thompson


Perfectly Edited
by: D'Angelo Thompson

Shopping for products can be grueling even for an experienced make up artist. My best advice is to sample products for two or three days before you commit
and or seek out recommendations.

The new Sephora in the Meat Packing District (MPD) in Manhattan is beautifully edited, easy to shop/navigate and it carries the best of the best in the world of beauty and hair care!