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Tried It

5 Travel Must-Haves

You’ve been there too – 30,000 miles in the air when you realize you forgot it. Sadly, you’ll have to make due with what you can while silently cursing yourself for your temporary insanity while packing.

I’m not talking about your toothbrush or razor. I’m talking about the travel must-haves that make your trip much more relaxing and leave you refreshed and ready to take on the world.

Heck, I travel enough to warrant a second set of toiletries. Forgotten toothbrush, no more! Basics aren’t included in this list.

But here’s my list of the five things you shouldn’t leave home without.

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1. Battery Pack(s)

Considering that I’m a little bit of a connected-freak, I tend to travel with about five. But for most people, one will suffice. You can find them just about anywhere, like Amazon. Or if you make friends with Twitter, they’ll give you one with your Twitter handle on it. True story.

If you are in an unfamiliar city and can’t find an open outlet in Starbucks to charge your phone (and then find your way back to your hotel), an extra battery pack will become your saving grace.

Trust me – it’s happened to me. And of course it was when my dead phone doubled as my hotel room key too. Go figure.

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2. Smart Watch

Traveling usually includes a lot of walking. If it isn’t tracked, it didn’t count. So, make those steps count.

Plus, a smart watch can usually double as your boarding pass, Starbucks card and oh yeah… A watch that changes time zones all on its own.

ipad

3. Tablet

If you haven’t noticed already, I do love my tech. I most often use my time on a plane to decompress and catch up on some light reading. Although, the tablet could also help you squeeze in some light work if you need to.

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4. A Good Travel Bag

Maybe it’s a tote, maybe it’s a laptop bag, but you should really have a great bag that fits underneath the seat in front of you and includes lots of pockets. You’ll need to stash all your tech; plus some makeup, gum, snacks, books, etc.

travel flat

5. A Good Pair of Flats

I’ve talked about my Tory Burch Minnie Travel Flats before, but I can’t tell you how much you need a decent pair of flats for travel. They should be comfortable, fit well and not make your feet stink.

Your neighbor will thank you.

Bonus

BM

My newest travel must-have is a decent hydrating cream. I’m partial to this one from Bare Minerals. Flights are really good at dehydrating your skin. You feel a bit like a prune when you step off. So even after you’ve thrown down a couple of bottles of water, you still need a little pick me. A good hydrating cream can do just that.

Happy travels!

 

Disclosure: Stay At Work Mom is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com

If it ain’t broke…

I recently got a new pair of black Kendra Scott earrings. Woot!

As I walked into the house with my newly acquired prize, a pack of fire-breathing dragons swept by, knocking the new earrings across the room and onto our tile floor and into three pieces.

By fire-breathing dragons, I mean two young children.

By two young children, I mean me.

Actually, my kids were there, and they may have knocked into me (like they always do), but I dropped them. Sad day.

After a few months of mourning the loss, and hanging onto my new three earrings even though I have only two ears, I decided to drop by the Kendra Scott store just to see what they’d say.

I fully imagined the conversation going something like this:

Me: Hi. I, er, my kids dropped my brand new earrings – never worn before. See – there’s no ear funk on them yet. They’re untouched.

Shop girl: (rolls eyes) That sucks. Maybe you should grow another ear. And who has ear funk? Really?

Me: (defeated, puts head down) OK. Thanks a lot.

So I gathered my three earring pieces and headed in, full of low expectations… on Christmas Eve. Because there’s no better time than to take something back to a store. I used to work retail. I know better than to do this. But I did.

When my husband and I pulled up to the store, it looked a little something like this:

long line photo

Yikes! Not what I hoped for, and yet exactly what I expected.

I grabbed my earring pieces and took my place at the back of the line.

Within a minute, Shop Girl came out with a big Kendra Scott bag full of bottled water and cookies looking chippier than ever.

Editors Note: Is “chippier” even a word? I should look that up later before I publish this.

She saw the somewhat pained look on my face and asked what was up. After I told her about my debacle, she took my earrings and headed into the store. Almost as soon as she was gone, she reappeared WITH A NEW PAIR. No questions asked. No fire-breathing dragons to be blamed.

There are a few places that get customer service right – Nordstrom consistently comes to mind. They understand their customer, how they shop, and they make it easy to do just that. Today, Kendra Scott has been added to my list of best in class. From the cookies to the water to the no problem exchange, they nailed it.

There are a few things that stuck out here:

  1. Identify and anticipate needs: They new everyone would be stressed (it was Christmas Eve just a few hours before stores closed), and knew people hated standing in line. Before anyone had a chance to complain, they found a way to keep us entertained.
  2. Listening: Of course, Shop Girl’s listening was more like looking at the earrings while I made a sad face and said, “They were broken before I got wear them.” But she got it, and responded immediately.
  3. Surprise: I fully expected to pay for another earring, or pay to have it fixed. But they surprised me, and won a long-term customer for it.

Tell me your great customer service story.

Stay At Work Mom’s Apps to Keep You Sane During the Holidays

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Work. Travel. Shopping. Baking. Juggling Schedules: These are all things the Stay At Work Mom experiences during the holidays.

The struggle is real. But these apps will keep your life a little more sane and a little more organized so you can spend time on the things you really want.

Food Mom

1. Allrecipes

This app has saved my life on more than one occasion – my mother-in-law asks me to bring XX to the family get together… I need a quick dessert for a neighbors holiday party. The ratings are usually pretty accurate. Plus, it makes deciding on dinner simple when you’re on the way home from the office.

2. Pepperplate

Everyone has family recipes that they want to keep handy. Pepperplate helps you organize all your recipes that aren’t online, and save the rest of your favorites from online sources. I’ve even added my entertaining recipe lineup from my favorite cookbook, Baked. Hint: It’s not an app, but they have awesome recipes for entertaining.

 

Travel Mom

3. TripCase

All your travel plans in one app. Every avid traveler knows to use this app. And if you’re juggling kids, luggage, snacks, etc., it’ll keep you sane. There’s also a version for your Apple Watch that lets you get your updates without ever picking up your phone.

4. Routehappy

Do you need to stay connected on the road? Routehappy can do just that. Instead of listing flights just by price, they are listed by Wi-Fi quality, device charging options and roomy seats – all the amenities a Stay At Work Mom needs.

 

Work Mom

5. CubeFree

If your family holiday is a little like Christmas Vacation, and you need to get away to get some work done, check out CubeFree. It’ll show you quiet and connected places in your area, including cafes and co-working spaces. The ratings are great too.

6. Trello

This one is for the Type A Stay At Work Moms out there. Trello will keep all your projects – work or home – organized. You can also include your colleagues or spouse on projects and assign tasks.

7. Wunderlist

Do you get a thousand texts from your spouse or kids asking you to pick up something from the store? Add them to your Wunderlist, and you’ll never get those texts again. You can share lists and tasks with your family to make sure you never forget anything again.

The day my Fitbit died

I’ve had my Fitbit for about a year now. At first, I refused to challenge friends. After all, getting active should not be about competition. It should be about staying healthy and active, and living the new American dream… That lasted a few minutes.

Then, the challenges began.

First, it was innocent. Let’s compare steps!

Then, it became all out smack-talking – which included a little bit of not updating the tracker until everyone else went to sleep. Then, time zones became another issue (I tend to go to bed early, so my steps are done early too).

But when I was in Chicago, my Fitbit band broke… the week before SXSW. For those of you not familiar: SXSW is a interactive, film and music festival in Austin, Texas every spring. Around 30,000 people come from across the world to partake in the sessions, networking, concerts and parties. Since there are typically not that many people in Austin – I think ever – you walk. And I mean tens-of-thousands of steps each day.

So, the week before SXSW, I sent a frantic tweet to Fitbit to ask about getting a replacement band. They kindly replied and replaced it. But it arrived after I had made the trek down south for the weekend.

All those steps, lost.

I learned a valuable lesson that week: If your Fitbit isn’t working, the steps never happened.

 

I mention this because now it’s really broke. #nohope

Why I should never be charged with saving the world

My husband and I went to go see Terminator Genisys last weekend. For those of you who haven’t seen it yet (or don’t want to), here’s the non-spoiler recap: John Connor sends his right-hand man, Kyle Reese back in time to save his mom, Sarah Connor. Oh, and Arnold Schwarzenegger is back… in the “I’ll be back” kind of way…. but older.

The end.

Now you can impress your husband by understanding the plot line without seeing the movie. Or maybe you can convince someone you saw the movie – without giving away the details for non-movie-watching conversation participants, of course.

I digress.

During the climax, Kyle and Sarah are running around Skynet trying to save the world, and I have a sudden and strong realization: I should never be charged with saving the world.

The reason may surprise you.

  1. I could probably handle a gun, knife or some kind of clever weapon from the future. After all, I tend to be pretty tech-savvy (I’m usually the one setting up our surround sound at home, or fixing computers when they break).
  2. I took self-defense in college, which totally counts toward badass status.
  3. I can pull off a black tank top and black cargo pants. The color definitely makes me look a little more like “sun-kissed” tanned than “ghost-white.” And let’s be honest – in Texas summers, we live in tank tops. So the natural, “girls saves the world” uniform, is covered.
  4. I can totally get down to “Save the World” by Swedish House Mafia. And I can imagine myself doing so while dancing under the strobe lights. I realize it’s less relevant, but it totally counts.
  5. I’d love to think I can handle a major crisis while calm and efficient – both very important in this sort of thing.

The thing is – I am directionally challenged.

It’s true. If I can’t Waze it, don’t count on me coming.

I travel some for work. When I do, I always make sure I have enough of a phone charge to make sure I can get wherever I’m going and back. I also take a photo of my car in a parking garage and the sign that says exactly where my car is.

When I’m trying to get somewhere within a building, I wonder aimlessly until someone takes pity on me and gives me directions. I get anxiety about it – my pulse picks up and I grit my teeth.

But, I realize you may not believe me, so there’s this:

Hubs even has a name for me: Wrong way birdie. I pretend he’s being endearing, but it’s true.

The day after the movie, hubs, the kids and I venture out to get the kids’ haircuts. Ironically, one of our favorite sushi restaurants is opening a new location in the very same complex.

I think it’s a sign. We should eat more sushi.

So in my excitement and with a few minutes to burn, we decided to drive by for a sneak peek. I turned onto the street in front of the restaurant and ogled the construction as we went by.

Then my husband said it: “Um… you’re going down a one way street – the wrong way.”

Damn.

I pull up to the stop sign to turn (the right way), but there’s a cop… and he’s spotted me.

Five minutes later after some razzing from both the cop and my husband, I’m allowed to leave – this time, without a ticket.

So that’s it.

If the zombie apocalypse is going to happen, don’t call me. Because I won’t make it, and I won’t save the world.

For your listening pleasure:

#sorrynotsorry

Mom-Shaming: The New #Selfie

A few weeks ago, I read an article about a mom who was shamed on Facebook for breastfeeding her child in a restaurant. Of course, she discovered the photo and delivered a pointed rebuttal to the original poster. Well played.

Apparently, mom-shaming is becoming a “thing,” like #selfie, non-post-workout yoga-wearing and “The Rachel” haircut.

I’m not even sure how that happened.

Here’s the thing: We all have moments – we’re tired, we’re bored, we’re not on our A-game. Our kids have moments too.

Mom-shaming hasn’t happened to me, but I bet I can identify with the typical mom. I have done extensive unscientific research with my mom group. We’re all in the same boat.

We’re doing the best that we can.

We don’t get owner’s manuals with our babies when they are born. I know what it feels like to be in a store or a restaurant with a child who is in the middle of an epic meltdown.

We’ve all guessed from time-to-time – playing it by ear and hoping no one notices. But people do. And people are beginning to act like the mean girls who bullied before cyber-bullying was a thing. It’s a gross invasion of privacy, and is detrimental proof of immaturity.

It makes me sad and angry.

We all have different ways of raising our kids. Believe it or not, we all make mistakes. We also have beautiful moments.

So on that last line, I’d like to change the conversation. Forget #momshaming. Share #momlove. I’ll start.

Since this mom and her kiddos are identifiable, I’ve asked permission to post this publicly. It also happens that she is a good friend… after all, our youngest kids have been betrothed. I joke… kind of.

mom

 

Now it’s your turn. Catch a beautiful mom moment and share the #momlove.

The one that comes first

Eeeks! My first blog post. This is one of those moments that I may regret when Timehop comes around every year… but for now, I’m so stinkin’ excited to meet you!

Here’s the deal:

Let’s get this out of the way now. I’m one of those moms who popped out two beautiful kids and kept working any way. They call me a “Stay-at-work mom.” It’s perfect for our family – just like other families where mom or dad decide to stay home. Don’t give me the side-eye.

I should be featured on Pinterest fails. Luckily, they haven’t found my mishaps… yet. If you don’t tell, I’ll share them with you.

I have the wonderful privilege of working in tech for a nonprofit and meeting people every single day who inspire me. I cry regularly at work because of it. Our brand team uses it as a litmus test for good content.

I also get to travel for work and/or leisure. I’ll take both. When I was breastfeeding, I pumped in dozens of airport bathrooms and on planes. Mom problems. Anyway, I’ve always had a case of wanderlust.

And with that comes a craving for culture, food and wine. I’ve even hit up a couple Plum packets with a glass of wine for dinner in the past. Like I said, no side-eye. You know you’ve done it too.

My good sense of fashion usually comes from my husband who worked in high-end retail for a number of years and is my personal stylist. I’ll take a Gucci bag and pair of Jimmy Choos any day! Of course, good finds can be found at Target too.

I have a group of mom friends who are just as crazy as I am, and one of the only reasons I’m not in therapy. My husband – or as he prefers to be called, Super Dad – is the other reason.

Many of my conversations start out with, “So I have a funny story.” This one is the same.

So, here we are. Let’s be friends. I’ll toast you wherever you are.

Cheers!

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