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On a recent trip across the country we made a couple of stops that were essentially going to be bathroom breaks. First a quick visit to Old Faithful and then on to Cody Wyoming. The next day we worked our way over to Rapid City South Dakota where we had planned to make a quick stop at Mt. Rushmore.

We picked up a Jr. Ranger handbook at the rangers station and the kids set off in search of the the clues to complete the tasks outlined in the book. They spent hours in the museum and walking along the pathways under the faces. They loved every second of their search. It cooled down pretty quickly as it began to get dark. Fortunately we were ready for that. We bundled up and continued exploring the park. Not long after sunset there was a flag ceremony in the main amphitheater to retire the colors. For several hours it had seemed like it was just us and a dozen or so other people at the park but all of a sudden the seating area was packed with what must have been over 1000 people. I’m not sure where they had all come from but apparently the park is more spread out than I had thought. We sat there and watched as members of the military that were visiting that day walked onto the stage and a troop of Boy Scouts from Minnesota filed in to provide the manpower for the actual lowering and folding of the flag for the evening. A slide show played above the stage and the lights on the faces came began to glow. As the flag was lowered the entire audience joined together in singing the national anthem. There were people there from all over the country and possibly even the world. We had never met. We had never sung together. But on this evening it was one of the most beautiful choruses I had ever heard. I could feel tears start to well up and I almost wasn’t able to sing the whole song because it was so moving.

Later that fall, when my kids, who were 11 and 13 at the time, would tell people about their summer they would talk about their favorite day at Mt. Rushmore. There were no roller coasters, there were no video games, and this was their favorite stop on the trip.

Sometimes we have to remember that one of the best gifts we can give to our kids is the time for us to be together in a place where their imaginations can run wild.

Join the team at TravelingMom.com on Monday October 24 for a twitter party all about meaningful travel. I’ll be there! You can Win an iPad2 and talk meaningful travel on #TMOM Twitter party RSVP HERE http://bit.ly/nwVFbm #TAUCK

I’m looking forward to talking with the folks at Tauck travel and other moms about the Cowboy Country Northbound adventure which covers Yellowstone to Mt. Rushmore. CLICK HERE  for more details.

For more information on Mt. Rushmore visit the National Park Service Page

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October 4th is one of my favorite days of the year.  And here’s why:  My formative years (high school) were in the late 70’s – the big movie series back in the day was Smokey and the Bandit with Burt Reynolds and they always talked back and forth with the truckers.  They would always sign off ” 10-4 Good Buddy! ” –

Then in the early 80’s my mom and I drove across the US and took a CB radio with us and talked with truckers along the way – it was dangerous because we would get laughing so hard we almost had to pull over several times.

THEN in the later 80’s my sweetheart gave me his Beta Theta Pi pin on October 4.

THEN just after the millenium I passed the Outdoor Emergency Care exam and became a certified ski instructor and had to go back to my CB call numbers all over again 10 – 4 means YES affirmative everythings OK.

So actually over the past 30+ years 10-4 has always had a special place in my heart.

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Today we celebrated.

This morning started out exactly as it had 10 years ago. On a bright sunny day I sat on my couch watching television. And I cried. Just like I had 10 years ago. It is amazing seeing pure evil in action. We must never forget or become complacent and let our children forget that there is evil in the world and on occasion evil does have a face. I cried for the children who had to grow up without parents. I cried for mothers who outlived their children.

But this morning was different. My four children are 10 years older. They are wonderful kids. It was a busy day. We set out the American flag on the front porch and then started in on a series of chores that needed to be done today so that we could just focus on school this next week. At some point in the day I realized that we were all moving around the house doing these things but I wasn’t asking the kids to do anything. They knew the routine and were just doing their part. My oldest pulled out the vaccuum and took care of the main floor. My youngest pulled out his homework assignment due on Wednesday and asked his other brother for some help pulling together the necessary supplies to complete his collage. The theme of the collage “My American Dream”.

I took a step back for a minute and looked at the sunshine beaming into our living room and listened to the sounds of laughter and debate (which actor played the best Dr. Who) and I realized that if I had to turn in my son’s homework assignment today, and make a collage of My American Dream, I would only have to take a snapshot of my kids today.

Right then it seemed like we had to celebrate. We had to celebrate the memory of all the people who died 10 years ago and their families who have carried on – we had to celebrate our President at the time who carried us through this particular day with Grace and Courage – we had to celebrate what it means to be an American. So, we dialed up our favorite Chinese restaurant, ordered take-out, and sat in our living room watching Dr. Who and celebrated a quiet afternoon of no real significance.

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Dogs are people too. At least that is what they think.  Making sure they know the house rules is one of the kindest things you can do for your dog.  Then again it helps if your pup is super smart like mine is.

Dozer was a Christmas gift to me a few years ago from my son.  That’s one way for a kid to get a dog.  The deal was that a big part of the gift was the training.  So, Mike took it on himself to train our new family member.  Dozer is a Corgi and so he loves to herd.  But he is not so hyper as a Border Collie so he doesn’t need as much outside exercise time.  But he is really smart.

Here are some of my favorite tricks:

1. Tug – he loves playing tug.  We have even trained him to play tug with our other puppy and so the two of them can keep themselves entertained for hours.  One of his particular favorites is playing tug with a sock and with 6 people in the house our doggy often finds  a stray sock around the house.  So, when a sock becomes ratty it goes into Dozer’s sock pile.  On occassion he will come up to me with a sock in his mouth eager to play and it will be a newer sock.  I say to him “Not your sock” and he drops it and goes looking for his sock.  Good Dog.

2. Do a Barrel Roll – This trick took a while for Dozer to learn because his legs are so short.  Basically, it is just a Roll Over trick.  But the thing is, one of our kids favorite video games of all time is Star Fox. In that game the hero, FOX, flies through space saving the day.  During the game you will hear “Do a Barrel Roll!” over and over.  Now, it is so much fun playing the game with Dozer in the room – every time they shout out “Do a Barrel Roll” the dog obeys.

3. Off the rug – Recently, we put down a very nice area rug in our living room.  The only thing is that it is like a dog hair magnet.  The benefit of having a well-trained dog is that adding new commands does not take very long.  To soften the blow of not being able to sit right in the middle of the room anymore we brought a dog bed into the living room and put it by the window so that Dozer and our German Shepherd would know exactly where we wanted them to rest when they are in the living room.  Our dogs have been following this new rule basically from the start.

This morning I woke up and went into the living room and looked over and our little doggy had moved the dog bed into the middle of the room.  He was technically not on the rug.  He looked up at me and it was almost like I could see what he was thinking.

On a morning filled with tributes and memories of the 10 year anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy, this was a great reminder to me that hope springs eternal.

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Do you have a “Let’s Make a Deal” purse – one like Mary Poppins or Hermione Granger?  You know the purse.  It has EVERYTHING in there.  For me this was a carry over of the diaper bag.  It was easier to carry way more than I needed just in case there was that one most unlikely moment when I did actually need one obscure item in my purse.   But now my baby is in middle school and those moments of urgency are far fewer.

This summer I traveled with my friend Carissa Rogers to the Blogher conference in San Diego.  This is where I learned exactly what is on my new essential list of the top 14 things I never leave home without:

1. Wallet

2. Sunglasses

3. Cell phone

4. Keys – I have the keys on a lanyard which makes them easier to grab when they are loose in my purse.  It also makes it easy to hang them around my neck when I am just running into the store quickly and don’t want to take my entire purse in with me.  Wearing your keys around your neck sort of is a Grandma move – the equivalent of wearing socks with sandals – but I am finding the efficiency is worth the looks from much younger people.

5. Passport – I usually carry this with me as my form of identification.  It is government issued but doesn’t display my home address.  Besides that, you never know when you might have the chance to dash off to some exotic foreign destination.

6. Reading glasses – once you need them you really need them and now I don’t travel anywhere without them.

7. A great red lipstick and some waterproof mascara – This was really the main thing I learned at the conference.  A girl should really not go anywhere without a great lipstick and her mascara.

8. Watch – yes, your cellphone displays the time but I absolutely adore my watch ( also waterproof ).  It’s important to be on time and a great looking watch is a good way to make sure you do that.

9. Skanz bracelet –  a square code on the bracelet can be scanned by other smart phones and will load all of my contact information on to that phone.  Love this. Thanks Zebra Partners  – more on this later.

10. Business Cards – in case I run into someone who doesn’t have a smart phone OR if someone needs a note about something I will write it down on my business card and then that reminds them of my conversation along with giving them the information they wanted.

11. (Not pictured but critical) a Black Sharpie and a Silver Sharpie – you should never leave home without one of each in your purse.  You never know when you might have the opportunity to have Jane Lynch sign the Glee Tshirt you just happen to be carrying with you at the time.  Also, if you are at a Broadway show the playbills are often dark and if you happen to run into a former Miss America who is playing the lead you can have her sign your playbill with the silver Sharpie (that shows up much better on black).

12. Earrings – I make sure to have a great pair of earrings with me.  The pair in this picture was a gift from my mother after a trip she took to India.  They are my Default Earrings.  I wear them everywhere.  Yes, the watch is gold and the earrings are silver.  It might be like wearing white after Labor day but I’m OK with that.  The watch and the earrings both have sentimental meaning to me and so make me feel more confident when I’m wearing them.

13. Blue Tooth

14. Lucky Nickel – Several years back they started making nickels with an ocean scene on one side with the immortal words of Lewis and Clark “Ocean in view, Oh the joy!”.  My youngest brother had been saying this phrase for years every time he returned home from one of his great adventures and it had become a symbol to me too.  I love traveling but there is also a great joy that comes when I finally return home.  In my case this does happen to be very close to that same point where Lewis and Clark penned those famous words.  So, I carry my lucky nickel with me to remind me about the way home.

What are the items you can’t leave home without?

Disclosure: HTC, LG, and Skanz did give me these products while I was at Blogher.  They did not ask me to write this follow up post. The opinions and the fact that these products ended up in my top list of can’t leave home without them items are all my own.   I am an affiliate with Amazon and links from this article serve to provide more information about the items on my list but also link to my affiliate pages.

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Most interesting article of the day.

The faceless men of the web: what’s the value of free speech if you don’t know who’s talking?

It is a very timely and interesting look at the state of Social Networking and the balance between Anonymity online and full Disclosure.   It is an article that needed to be reposted on LinkedIn which then gets tweeted out on my Twitter account.

Moments after I sent this link out I received a message back from the author of the article.  I love the Internet. Its all about connections and sharing great ideas.  This is the Internet at its best.

The Internet also has a short attention span and seconds after receiving this tweet the discussion on twitter returned to Toilet Paper.  This actually really made my day.  ( I do really appreciate the people at ToiletPaperWorld.com for sponsoring the “Paper Caper” as it is now known ).

One minute an erudite discussion on Trust and the future of Social Networking Aaaannnnd  we’re back – the importance of Toilet Paper in our every day life.

PS Remember – unless you have cats in the house it is just good form to have your toilet paper roll off the top.

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Best Part of Travel

I love traveling.  Back in the mid 90’s I started the Stayathomemom.com website and my friends all laughed because they said “But you’re never at home”.

This last round of adventures found us traveling in 2009 for a year before returning home for a couple of months and then taking off for another one year adventure in 2010.  This morning I am back sitting at my desk in my office.  I am still unpacking from our year on the road and have cleaned off the inch thick layer of dust that was on everything but it is wonderful.

One of the best parts of going somewhere is coming home again.  My kids ran right to the kitchen door where we have made marks along the door frame marking growth and checked out how much they had grown in the past year.  Somehow, someone along the way, decided that we needed to not only mark the height but add the person’s name and the date.  This has been great because my youngest now found out he is exactly the same height as his older brother was at the same age.  Very fun.

I love drinking coffee out of my favorite coffee mug.

The only thing about coming back is that the house is exactly as we left it – there was no magical renovation fairy that came in and finished the bathroom renovation that has been underway for 4 years now.   But it is my bathroom and so its wonderful.

 

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