The discriminatory and un-American immigration ban set forth by the U.S. President has targeted and impacted many innocent people and has lead to the detention and deportation of families, professionals, students, and other hardworking members of our communities, legal residents and Green Card holders. The ban heavily targets immigrants of Muslim countries.
Though this feel very personal, I did not want to come on here to explain why I have joined protests and supporting groups that are fighting against this bigotry.
Instead, I wanted to open up the platform for someone else, a former refugee herself, to share her story and the story of many others targeted by this ban.
I arrived to Istanbul with eyes wide open, eager to learn its history and hear the stories of those I met along the way. I found out almost immediately that the Turkish people are very aware of the preconceptions that they thought I, as an American, might have of them. They wanted to make sure that I walked away from every experience with a deeper understanding of their culture, religions, and people. This made me feel ashamed, and yet grateful for the opportunity they extended to me at every turn. What would follow then would be the welcoming of everyone I would meet, whether it was through the generosity of food or offering of cultural knowledge.
As I wondered around I found people fascinated by the fact that I was from America. I often found myself approached by teens and kids wanting to practice their English with me, locals curious about where I was from. I found this warm reception humbling. I also was embarrassed that we Americans rarely extend this kind of warmth to them in our own country.
Looking through my phone for a picture of my boys at swim class today and this one came up that I took accidentally. I was sitting on the sidelines watching them swim, and because the lifeguards want us present for drop off and pick up, I don’t have time for a workout, so instead I check their home school work for the day.
When I started blogging in 2008, I really couldn’t afford to fly anywhere…well, that, and I didn’t really want to. My kids were little and people can be real jerks to families with little kids on planes. I just never felt like it was worth it. Plus, after our cross country road trip in 2009, I realized how much easier it was to just pack up a car and go, and how much more of the in-betweens we got to enjoy.
This year I am aiming to making road tripping a bigger part of my travel. Though we have a few trips in mind that will require flying, I am most excited for our time on the road – even once we are overseas.
This morning I woke up at 3:30AM to drive my 19-year-old son and his girlfriend to the airport.
They were heading on their very first international trip alone, together. It’s her first time out of the country, his first time traveling abroad as an adult without us.
As I showered them with a check list of last minute items, made them confirm 4 times at least that they had their passports, gave them all the things to watch out for and be careful of, I could hear the excitement and nervousness in their voices and it made me smile.
I have often said that over the years traveling with my family has grown to become one of my absolute favorite forms of travel because they, my children especially, take in the world in a way that I haven’t in a long time or never did. Experiencing places through their eyes or for the first time again (because it is the first time for them) reminds me of how precious these moments are. I take nothing for granted.
Our recent trip to Jamaica was a great opportunity for us to come together as a family and a fun vacation full of first-time experiences for my kids, which helped to make the trip even more special.
Right now I am home preparing for the holidays with my family. We like to spend them here. With New York City as our playground, we enjoy all the lights and scenes.
However, once all the festivities are over, we start feeling the urge to get out there for some winter fun, and boy have we had some over the years.
Here is a collection of some of my favorite winter escapes to help inspire your next trip:
‘Tis almost the season for festivities, gatherings and all that is good as we prepare for the holidays and having our college teen back home.
It’s also the time for exams, which means long nights of studying and even longer drowsy days. This is a fact. What is also a fact is that chances are your teen, like mine, will try to drive somewhere in this low-attention state.
Most parents, and certainly many teens, don’t really think much of driving a short distance while a bit exhausted. However, the number of teens who do this is rather high and quite dangerous for the rest of us. In fact, new research conducted by Liberty Mutual Insurance and SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions), revealed that 56% of licensed teens have admitted to driving when they felt too tired to drive their best, 32% are driving drowsy at least sometimes and nearly 1 in 10 teens have completely fallen asleep at the wheel while driving. One in every ten. Those are scary numbers.
As the winter months start to settle in, my family and I start planning at least one big trip for the incoming year. I think the reason we initially started taking our annual excursions was because after our very first cross-country 2009 road trip with little ones, we returned feeling like there was nothing we couldn’t do. We still don’t know where we will be venturing to in 2017. The list is long, we’re still figuring out the budget, and with the boys getting older, their input on how and where we travel has become more valuable.
It’s the last day of November 2016 and what seemed like a hopeful time at the start of the month has become somewhat filled with uncertainty for so many. Who knew 30 days could pack such a punch?
However, this isn’t my first rodeo. There have been a lot of really tough times – which honestly have felt even tougher because they have been so much more personal in the past. I have allowed myself all the emotions that come as a result of these past few days (ahem, the election), but I also quickly was able to identify what I wanted my role to be and how I wanted to approach it all. For all its crappiness, November has brought some really positive changes too.