Over the last month, I have been taking part in a consistency challenge with Mattie James. The challenge was to write a blog post every week day from July 6-31, adding up to a total of 2o blog posts for the month.
To be totally honest, I started it but definitely did not think I would finish it. I knew we would be on vacation two weeks out of the month, and with my birthday yesterday, I wasn’t sure how I would realistically get it all done.
I decided to do the challenge for several reasons. The first was because my word for 2020 is consistency. The second is because I had gotten lazy with posting on my website. I was posting once a week or once every two weeks, and that definitely was not working out in driving traffic to my blog. You see, the way Mattie explained it, when you focus on social media, you’re focused on what is essentially rented space. Someone else owns your social media space. If Instagram gets shut down tomorrow (not likely but absolutely plausible - remember Vine?), where can your audience still find you? And are you still providing value there?
I wasn’t thinking of all those things, and my posting had gotten way too sporadic. I was coming up with every excuse under the sun to not post and I was claiming “writer’s block” wasn’t letting me come up with content. The truth is, I was getting in my own way. I wasn’t setting aside time to write and it showed. During the last month, I planned ahead, I wrote several posts at a time, and I scheduled blog posts in advance when I knew I would be tied up. They didn’t take nearly as long as I had built them up to in my head, and I’m grateful that I decided to take part!
While I don’t plan to continue to post every single day, Ido plan to post on a much more consistent schedule. And in any case, I'm proud of myself for getting through the month of July!
If you are new to blogging (even if you’re not) and haven’t been consistent with posting, I challenge you to come up with your own consistency challenge and stick to it. Let me know how it goes!
Happy Friday, friends!
Today, I turn 35. I remember being 15 and thinking 35 was old. When I was 15, my parents were only 38! Most days, I still feel like I'm pretending at this whole "adulting" thing.
And the older I get, the more I realize that I will continue learning every single day. This year in particular I feel has been a very enlightening year, and I've learned (or re-learned) so much.
I've learned that...
You can love people and not always agree with them.
Friends might be forever, but they might also just be for a season, and that's okay .
There is no substitute for fresh air.
How much I put in will determine how much I get out.
Time is valuable, and MY time is worth something.
Tuning out the outside noise is not just good, it's necessary sometimes.
If I surround myself with negativity, I will become negative. The same goes for the opposite.
There is no greater confidence booster than realizing you were perfectly made by God.
But mostly, I've learned that I am the only person who is responsible for myself. The way I wake up, the way I spend my free time, the people with whom I surround myself, and the information I take in all affect me and my outlook. In 2019, I decided to simplify, and it was such a release for me to start saying "no" to events, to activities, and to things I didn't want to do. And this year, I have truly simplified (as have many of us since it was forced on us with the pandemic). I have turned inward often, in prayer, in reflection, and I have reminded myself often that the choices that I make are what is best for me and for my family. I have come to the realization that I will never be able to control anyone else's actions - my friends, my children, my husband - but I can control my REACTION. I can control my own actions, and that has been a lesson more valuable to me this year than anything else.
Cheers to growing, learning, and living each day in faith and in positivity.
If there is one thing I am grateful for when it comes to social media, it's all the amazing women I have been able to connect with. I have found so many moms who in one way or another I can relate to and who make me feel a little less alone when it comes to motherhood. I'm linking all their Instagram pages, but most of them have really incredible blogs with tons of information on there.
@themattiejames aka Mattie James
Mattie is the ultimate blogging boss mom. She puts out such amazing information, her campaigns are so well done, and she has a really great way of showing her audience the behind-the-scenes of blogging. She also has some incredible courses, and if you're a new blogger, you should definitely be following her.
@thoughtfullyorganized aka Jessica DeSiato
I never knew how much help I needed in organizing until I met my friend (and neighbor) Jessica, the mind behind Thoughtfully Organized. She is truly thoughtful about the way she organizes everything and she makes organization seem achievable. Follow her for some incredible tips!
@whineandcheezits aka Rachel Sobel
If you want to laugh, you need to be following Rachel. She's brutally honest, and her tweets will make you think that she has been reading your mind.
@JoyfullyGreen aka Joy Green
I met Joy in New York when we were there for a Johnson's event in 2018. She really is a joy and her Instagram is a whimsical dream. Think balloon arches, rainbows, and flowers. Her little ones are too cute, and her personality is infectious.
@BambinaDiaries aka Krystal and Maddy
Two Miami natives who are in Orlando and Atlanta, respectively. They have some great resources and share all kinds of awesome products and local finds for moms.
@adventuresoflawyermom aka Jazmine
Jazmine and I co-hosted an event at Ann Taylor in December, and all I could think when I met her was "This woman has it all." She's gorgeous, and she's smart. She has great style, and her posts are very informative.
@drschellcares aka Dr. Jennifer Schell
Jenny is an ob-gyn who started a postpartum concierge service. She answers women's gynecological questions on IG (it's not medical advice, relax), and I have seen how much good she has been able to do.
@stephaniejimenezmiami aka Stephanie Jimenez
Funny story... Stephanie and I actually went to high school together and I used to drive her home after school! She is a badass mom of two who has battled with binge eating. She is very vocal about her journey to healthier living and about how she manages her emotions to prevent binges. Her stories are really entertaining, too!
Go give these super moms a follow if you aren't already. I promise you won't be disappointed!
After a couple of really heavy reads back to back, I was in desperate need of a good, light summer read. Enter Kevin Kwan's Sex & Vanity. I picked it up because Kelly Saks and Maria Tettamanti both mentioned it in the span of a few days (consider me influenced). Once I realized that Kwan is the same author of Crazy Rich Asians, I was even more excited to read it - I never read the Crazy Rich Asians series but I did love the movie, and I might even read those books in the future, too.
I really enjoyed Sex & Vanity, and it one hundred percent made me wish I could take a trip to Capri soon! After the heartbreaker that was American Dirt, this lighthearted read which pokes fun at the uber and nouveau riche was exactly what I needed.
Lucie Churchill is a girl caught between two worlds - born to a blue blooded New England socialite and an American-born Chinese daughter - she has always pushed down her Chinese side to fit into the high society of New York. While she is in Capri for a wedding under the watchful eye of her older cousin Charlotte, she meets George Zao. She hates everything about him, until she doesn't. At the wedding, her cousin Charlotte catches them in a heated romantic exchange, and she makes it known that she does not approve. Lucie puts George out of her mind, until years later, when she is newly engaged and their paths cross again in New York.
And while it was light and funny, it was also a really important commentary on how culture plays a huge role in our lives and how being of a mixed heritage can really affect how someone is treated even within their own family, especially when one of those backgrounds is deemed as "less sophisticated." It's probably not award-winning literature, but a good summer read nonetheless.
I truly enjoyed reading Sex & Vanity, and I think you will, too!
Get the book
*links are affiliate links
This weekend, we headed up to Lion Country Safari with the kids. I had actually gone with them last year and we had enjoyed ourselves, so we decided to do it again since we didn't want to spend the weekend watching Netflix. In case you haven't heard of it, Lion Country Safari is a drive-through zoo attraction located in Loxahatchee, FL. It's about an hour and fifteen minutes north of Miami. There is a campground, the drive through safari, and then a theme/water park attached. I have only ever done the drive-through safari, which is what is open right now.
We purchased our tickets online ($19 plus tax per person - kids 2 and under do not need to pay) on Friday for our visit on Saturday. Tickets are sold through Eventbrite, which you can access on their website. I printed them out at home, but I didn't need to do that. Once we arrived at the admission gate, which has a plexiglass panel between you and the attendant, they asked us for the name on the reservation, confirmed we had purchased our tickets, and waved us through. As soon as you drive in, there are restrooms and a snack stand in a parking lot off to the right hand side. We stopped to use the restroom, which is manned by an attendant - everyone wore their masks, the doors are left propped open to minimize touching surfaces, and everything felt very clean. We did not purchase anything from the snack stand, but it was open.
Once you drive in, the drive-through safari part is about an hour/hour and a half. We arrived around 10:30 and there were a good amount of cars, but we never had to wait. While you are in the drive-through safari, you can NOT get out of the car. You cannot open the windows, and there is nowhere to stop and use the restroom/eat/etc.
The last time I went, we were given a CD to play while we drove through and a pamphlet to follow along during each area, but to limit the amount of contact, they ask you to stream the audio through their website and to read about the animals on their site. You can find the guide here and the audio here.
There are a lot of animals to see. All the animals were out and about - some of them we had to look closely for, and others came right up to our car. An ostrich passed right by us, a rhino crossed the road two cars in front of us, and we saw two impala fighting right by the road. The kids loved it and were bouncing around the car from window to window the entire time.
Once you leave the drive through, you can get down to use the restroom again or visit the gift shop (we didn't do this). There is also a large parking lot where you can stop to buckle the kids back in to their car seats, pick up any messes they made during the safari, etc. Overall, it's a really safe experience and the kids truly enjoyed it. It took up the entire morning and the kids napped for the majority of the ride back, which is always a good thing!
I put up a question box for you all on Instagram, and here were some of the questions you had!
Are there educational or interactive aspects for older kids?
I think the audio tour and the brochure are really good for older kids. Eddie and I were the ones reading and listening and then translating for Caleb. But for older kids who can read, it would probably be good for them to read up on some of the animals as you're entering each section and then identify them while you're in there!
Was it a long wait time to drive through?
Not at all! We didn't wait to get in at all, and once we were inside we went slowly through some attractions behind other cars (where animals are gathered, people tend to slow down, stop, take pics).
Did you make any stops? Did the kids get fussy in the car for such a long time (travel time included)?
After the drive up from Miami, we stopped to use the restroom. But that's all. My kids do really well in the car and on road trips. They are used to being in the car for extended periods.
Worth the drive?
I think it depends on your kids! If they like animals, definitely worth it. I can't think of anywhere else where the animals are so close to the car!
Potty situation for a pregnant woman? Too full on a weekend?
We were there early, and when we arrived at the restrooms, there was a steady in/out of people, but nobody was lingering. They have an attendant for the bathroom and marks on the floor to maintain distance, but remember you cannot stop or get out of the car during the actual safari part.
Did it keep Chloe's attention or did she get antsy?
Between the snacks and the animals, her attention was held! She went back and forth from the backseat to my lap, but it was fine!
Is there a long wait time to reserve tickets? I checked last month and you had to reserve far out.
We bought our tickets on Friday morning for Saturday, and there were people purchasing their tickets right outside the gate (on their cell phones), so I think it should be fine.
Lots of animals?
Do you have to have any contact with anyone at the entrance to check in?
Nope! They are in their guard house and there is a piece of plexiglass in front of them.
Were you concerned that the animals could damage your car?
It honestly never crossed my mind, but I guess it's an inherent risk. While we were there, we did see some of the staff trucks and one of them looked like a rhino had charged into it - which I guess is a very real possibility lol) but we never felt concerned for that.
Do you have to stay in the car the whole time?
During the safari, YES.
How long is the drive through the park?
1 - 1.5 hours.
If you head Lion Country Safari, let me know if you use any of these tips and how they work out for you!
South Florida Bloggers
2019 Best Parenting Blog