Last year, on our trip to Tennessee, I fell in love with log cabins. On this year's vacation, I couldn't help but pay attention to all of the gorgeous Colonial homes in and around Williamsburg. Having grown up in Virginia and lived here all my life, Georgian and Federal architectural elements look very normal to me, and of course I spent five years completely surrounded by Jeffersonian architecture at UVa! Even though I'm not a historian or an architect by any means, I wanted to round up some examples of some of my favorite design elements common to Colonial homes. Please note: If you'd like to add any of these images to your Pinterest boards, please click on the link below the image and pin from the source so the creator gets credit!
Our vacation to Williamsburg, Virginia was the third vacation I've taken with Mr. Q and his family. My first experience traveling with his family was a trip to Oak Island, North Carolina with Mr. Q and his parents, sister, aunt and uncle, cousins, and grandparents when we were dating. Having grown up an only child and used to vacationing with just my mom and dad, staying in a beach house with a large group of family members took some adjusting on my part! Traveling with family members is so different than traveling with just your significant others, or even with a group of friends. It can be so rewarding to share experiences and make memories with family. Today I wanted to share seven survival strategies I've developed on our family vacations.
1. Be flexible. Traveling with family means going with the flow - it's not solely your vacation, and you've got more than one person to compromise with. Sometimes that means you'll eat lunch at a restaurant that isn't necessarily your first choice. Sometimes it means you won't get to go on your planned kayaking trip because of thunderstorms. If the restaurant your family member chooses isn't your favorite, there's still probably something on the menu that will be delicious to you (my mother in law is the queen of ordering chicken at seafood restaurants). Having a sense of humor goes a long way - pouting because you didn't get your way doesn't make you feel any better, AND it makes the rest of the family miserable!
2. Know your personal vacation style. I know, I just got done reminding you that it's not all about you, but knowing where your personal comfort zone begins and ends, and whether you'rean introvert or an extrovert can be really helpful when traveling with a group. As an introvert, I need at least a little bit of alone time each day, so I might go down to the gym solo, go for a walk, do some yoga in my room, or read my book on the balcony. I need that time to recharge and my family understands that I still love hanging out with them - just not 24/7. It's also okay to pass on activities you know you definitely won't enjoy.
3. Acknowledge different vacation styles. I'm an only child, so growing up I pretty much ran the show on family vacations, and my family's trips were pretty packed with activities. Now that I travel with Mr. Q's family, I've realized that some people value relaxing over sightseeing, especially since unlike me the other members of my family don't get summers off from their jobs! I've learned that watching television and taking naps are totally valid vacation activities, AND that the world won't end if I go for a swim, check out a cute boutique, or visit a museum by myself while the family gets their nap on.
4. Visit the "touristy" attractions... Popular places are popular for a reason - they might be a little bit quirky or tacky, but chances are they appeal to a wide range of ages. It's great to find activities that appeal to everyone in your group, but when that's not possible, let go of your inhibitions and enjoy the Sesame Street themed part of the amusement park with your little cousin, or the Christmas store with your mother-in-law.
5. But don't forget to get off the beaten path. Some of the most fun things we did on our trip to Tennessee last year were actually Plan B - things we ended up doing because it poured down rain all week! Most hotels and resorts have plenty of brochures about local attractions in their lobbies or activity centers, local travel magazines (with discounts!) can be found at the grocery store, and online resources like Yelp make it even easier to find something to do. Do a little research, find one thing that you know you'll enjoy, and get your family on board. Or, if you're feeling really adventurous, pick a quirky neighborhood or cute street to explore without expectations.
6. Divide and conquer. On our family trips, we spend plenty of time as a big group, but we also spend time in smaller groups. We might do mother/daughters time and go get pedicures while the guys watch a movie, or let the parents have a date night while the young folks go explore the city. It's also important to me that Mr. Q and I have at least a little bit of couple time for a date night or daytime excursion.
7. Do your part. Mr. Q and I know we are lucky that his parents actually want us to come along on their vacations! We make sure to chip in on groceries and help with chores. Whether someone else is footing the majority of the vacation or you're splitting the costs, everyone will appreciate it if you do your dishes, keep your space clean, and don't leave your belongings lying around in communal areas. Maybe even volunteer to cook breakfast or make lunch for everyone - you'll be the vacation hero!
I hope that these trips will be helpful to those of you who will be traveling with your families this summer. It is possible to travel with in-laws and not only survive but have an awesome time! Have you traveled with family members? Would you consider a family vacation?
I'm sure you've heard the common idea that it takes 21 days to form a new habit. The truth is, it depends on the habit! For me, summer presents a time to re-focus on my health, hobbies and well-being. I've been making some gradual lifestyle changes, like cutting down on soda and processed foods and adding some strength training to my routine. It might sound silly, but brightly-colored workout gear is part of my arsenal and sometimes I sleep in a gym outfit because that gives me one less way to procrastinate in the morning. I want to get down to a healthy BMI and keep my blood sugar regulated so that I can drop the "pre-diabetic" label next time I get a checkup! Here are some pieces that would definitely make great rewards for meeting my fitness, health and weight loss goals.
David Nail's "Whatever She's Got" is the perfect summer country song... the lyrics remind me of some of my favorite Dierks Bentley and Brad Paisley songs. You can watch the video here. I'm linking up with Musical Mondays at My So-Called Chaos.
1. What is the most difficult thing you have been through? Losing my dad. I've written about my dad's illness and passing several times here on the blog - when I was in my third year of college, Dad's kidneys failed and he was put on dialysis. While I met people who had been on dialysis for 5, 10, 20 years, my dad just seemed so weak and diminished that I was convinced his kidneys were going to fail at any minute. I struggled with depression and a lot of pent-up anger that year. The next year, my Dad was diagnosed with a brain tumor. My parents decided not to tell me my dad had cancer until after I had taken my finals and he was in his last days. I didn't realize how strong I could be until I gave the eulogy at my dad's funeral, but it took years for me to be mentally stable about losing him. 2. What was your best birthday? My 21st - not because WOO BOOZE but because I spent it with my bestie who shares my birthday and our best friends. There was Red Robin and balloons and stolen glassware and surprise phone calls and it was one of those nights when it feels like anything could happen. My camp staff friends were such a family for me. 3. What has been your favorite thing that you have done in your own city? I've lived near Roanoke for my whole life, so it's hard to narrow my life down to one favorite activity! The recent coolest thing was when Dierks Bentley and Miranda Lambert came here. 4. What is your idea of the perfect date night? Dinner at either Wasabi (Japanese, obviously) or The Quarter (Cajun) and a concert. Even though country is not Mr. Q's favorite genre, he's always up to go see my faves with me. Honestly, I enjoy watching our friend's band play almost as much as a big show at the Civic Center. Live music is as good as a night can get for me. 5. Have you ever been to a blogging conference? If so which one(s)? If not do you want to? No, I think I would feel out of place at a blogging conference because I'm not a big-time blogger and I don't really think about "growing my audience" or the other things conferences seem to focus on. It would be neat to meet other bloggers, but not in an environment where everyone is trying to impress everyone else.
I just finished Wild by Cheryl Strayed. It was the perfect summer read for me - all of the adventure of hiking the Pacific Coast Trail without the sunburn and bug bites! Strayed's reasons for hiking the trail were so heartbreaking, and I could relate to the shock and depression she went through after losing a parent. To break out of her downward spiral, she decided to do something brave and a little bit crazy - hike from the Mojave Desert to the Bridge of the Gods in Washington. Her drive to keep going in spite of health problems and threats from wild animals and questionable human beings is really inspirational.
2. Do you find yourself reading more of a particular genre during the heat of summer?
Since during the school year I spend so much time reading either YA literature or professional books, I'm making a conscious effort this summer to read novels and memoirs written for adults.
3. Who are your favorite book villains (either to love or to hate?)
Not so much a villain as an antagonist, I 100% adore Severus Snape from the Harry Potter books. I can't remember when my Snape-loved kicked in, but it was initially due to his sarcasm and snark - he's the ultimate example of how not to teach teenagers! I love how J.K. Rowling developed Snape from the creepy guy who was always looking over Harry's shoulder and thwarting his school corridor mystery-solving into a tragic hero.
4. If you could choose one author’s writing powers to harness, who would you choose and why?
Harper Lee. To be able to write just one perfect book, that captures the spirit of a place and a time period and brings characters into the world who are realer than real people because they speak for multitudes - what a gift!
5. Do you read one book at a time, or read multiple books at once?
In high school and college, I always had multiple books going - what we were studying in class along with what I was reading for fun. During the school year, I am always reading a book from the school library during in-class reading time to prep for book talks, and I'm usually reading a professional book or something written for adults as well.
6. What are some of your favorite non-fiction books?
I love books of humorous essays, like Mindy Kaling's Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, Tina Fey's Bossypants, and Chelsea Handler's books. When I am in a more serious mood, I read books about teaching: my favorite memoir about teaching is Educating Esmé by Esmé Raji Codell my two favorite professional development books are The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Millerand Getting Started by Linda Ellis and Jamie Marsh (my thesis advisor at UVa!).