Summer Road tripping with the littles

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This wasn't the first and won't be the last time I take the kids out of town solo. It's never easy, but it's always worth it. A lot of times we just call it sleepovers because it centers around me picking a nice hotel where we swim, make s’mores, and stay up late playing games with room service. Our trips haven't been particularly adventurous until this past year now that they are getting bigger. They've mostly been a way for us to really bond. I'm not on a crazy schedule so we take our time, we color, someone else cleans up after us and brings dinner to the room, and I just really use that time to give them my total undivided attention. It's usually around when my husband is already out of town so it ends up being easier for us both to be in a new environment.

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Our trip to South Lake Tahoe was super spontaneous. I talked myself out of driving out of town with the kids on my own at least 3x in 24 hours because I do spend the night out of town with just us, but more like pick an easy resort and two hours or so away and go swimming. At most, we maybe leave the place once or twice and just hang out on the property. It’s also never been a destination that felt so “very middle of nowhere” on my own.

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I would have loved to rent a kayak or boat because the water is so beautiful and crystal clear, but I stuck to activities this round that I thought I could manage on my own easily. We stuck to hiking and exploring the lake. I picked out hiking trails and beaches that were pretty popular so there was pretty much always a lot of people around even if the areas we were at looked desolate in photographs. I didn't geotag where we were while I was gone because as much as I love chatting online, there are still too many people out there that could use that information to target a woman who is traveling on her own. Actually, I exercise that same bit of caution online as I never mention my kid's school or camps or post a photo with them wearing any school tees.

I thought I was going to chat more about what we did while we were gone (Mostly Eagle Falls, Sand Harbor Beach, and exploring the city to eat), but I got so many DMs and questions from friends about traveling on my own with the kids that I decided to make this post about that.

Here are a few of my tips if you are going to attempt a few nights away like this yourself before the summer is out:

Be Alert: I'm an optimistic person, but my father has instilled street smarts into me from day one. I'm never going to be the person who just leaves their purse on a chair during a birthday party, and when traveling, I'm always going to remain on high alert especially if I'm traveling solo without my husband because there are crazy people out there who target women and women who may be alone with children. I make it very clear to my children that not all people are good people and I'm here to protect them, but I need their help sticking close to me and listening so I can keep us all safe.

Let Someone Know Where You Are: We planned really last minute, but my husband had our hotel information and we just got our daughter a Gizmo which also acts as a location tracker so we had that with us and activated so he could stay on top of where we were in case we had any issues.

Hotels/Resorts > Airbnb: So everyone may not agree with me here, but I felt 110% more secure staying in a hotel with multiple other guests, kid-friendly, with and someone we could check in with more than I did trying to be in contact with a homeowner and then being off in the woods somewhere on our own. For all that we may as well went camping somewhere on our own. . . . which wasn't something I felt comfortable doing on my own.

Talk Through What Happens If You Get Separated: I just got my daughter a Gizmo which is like an Apple Watch for kids that you can program up to 10 numbers of people they can contact by calling or texting. I felt much more at ease knowing she could call me if we got separated (when we weren't in areas with no cell service while hiking!). For both children, I've always told them to look for a mommy and yell out my full name instead of "mommy" if they ever got lost. In a mommy and me class, they explained that teaching this to young children can help so you can identify them in a crowd where there may be a ton of other kids saying mommy and to specifically tell them to look for a woman for help because women will most likely commit to helping a young child while a man may be hesitant of looking like he was trying to run off with them. My kids are of an age that they can remember my phone number, but there are companies who make tattoos of your name and number you can put on a child's wrist for the day that I've ordered for things like days at Disneyland when they were too young for basic conversation.

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Are you heading anywhere with the littles this summer? DM me @jasminepennamma and let me know. I’d love to hear!

Summer School - Learning A New Skill For The Summer

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School is out this week and although both kids will be enrolled in camps while my husband and I are working, it still feels like we will have some downtime because we will be light of the sports and extra activities. With my oldest being an early reader and my youngest starting, I’m going to do my best to go to the library each week so they can pick a new book for us to read together. I remember being part of summer book clubs like Book It (free pizza at Pizza Hut!) and 600 Minutes (Free ticket to six flags!) which I loved, but while I think these programs helped me start an early love of devouring books, I wanted to try my own twist to it.

In college, I never really had a summer “off”, but whether I was taking summer classes or working at an internship, while it felt great to have a break from the demands of the school year, that didn’t mean I needed to take a break from learning. For me, the best part about the slow days of summer is that you have a chance to learn on your own terms. So while in school I would pick a class I was really interested in that had nothing to do with my major, and even while away on internship I would enroll in something that excited me like a commercial acting class or art class.

For myself and my kids, I want us to each pick a skill that we want to learn and use books that we check out at the library, YouTube videos, and a lot of trial and error to work on it to continuously get better over the summer. For me it will probably center around shooting and editing video and for my daughter around art. I’m not sure what my son will pick, but I know he’s always been into helping in the kitchen so I may start him out with snacks and smoothies he can make after school. We haven’t picked it out exactly, but we have a few days together at a hotel when school is out to try and figure it out!

Dirty 30

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30th birthdays are known to be huge milestones, but I couldn’t exactly put my finger on WHAT this milestone was because the closer I got to 30, the less of a milestone it looked like. I still have friends who are in the Dirty Thirty Club who are out every night, drinking until the dawn breaks, or running out of town for every excuse of a college reunion type party. So I can’t really say that 30 feels ‘old‘ like it did when I was younger. Everyone is still out and about living their life! So for me, thirty became a time to cherish my loved ones and to learn to age well instead of a year to be afraid of.

My 20's were met with exciting firsts like my first NY apartment (29th and 5th), my first paid ‘corporate internship’ (Neiman Marcus), my first helicopter ride (and engagement!), and of course the first day of the rest of my married life (in Hawaii). With the 20's behind me, I look forward to the 30's and other firsts like first born, first word, and family first. And what better way to start that off than my last day of my 20's in Vegas with my friends, and the first day of my 30th in Maui at the Four Seasons with my husband? I could get used to 30!

And I’ll leave you with that sunscreen speech from ’99. From NY to LA, can you tell I was paying attention?! (Minus the part about not reading beauty magazines. The nerve!). Not planning a move from Cali anytime soon though, I’m starting to really dig my soft side.

Do one thing every day that scares you.

Sing.

Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts. Don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours.

Floss.

Don’t waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind. The race is long and, in the end, it’s only with yourself.

Remember compliments you receive. Forget the insults. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.

Keep your old love letters. Throw away your old bank statements.

Stretch.

Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don’t.

Get plenty of calcium. Be kind to your knees. You’ll miss them when they’re gone.

Maybe you’ll marry, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll have children, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll divorce at 40, maybe you’ll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary. Whatever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself either. Your choices are half chance. So are everybody else’s.

Enjoy your body. Use it every way you can. Don’t be afraid of it or of what other people think of it. It’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own.

Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but your living room.

Read the directions, even if you don’t follow them.

Do not read beauty magazines. They will only make you feel ugly.

Get to know your parents. You never know when they’ll be gone for good. Be nice to your siblings. They’re your best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.

Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle, because the older you get, the more you need the people who knew you when you were young.

Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard. Live inCalifornia once, but leave before it makes you soft. Travel.

Accept certain inalienable truths: Prices will rise. Politicians will philander. You, too, will get old. And when you do, you’ll fantasize that when you were young, prices were reasonable, politicians were noble and children respected their elders.

Respect your elders.

Don’t expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund. Maybe you’ll have a wealthy spouse. But you never know when either one might run out.

Don’t mess too much with your hair or by the time you’re 40 it will look 85.

Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it’s worth.

But trust me on the sunscreen.