Tag: Ambers

In a couple of days I’ll be hitting the road with my best friend (the other Amber) and all of our kids for the long-awaited Road-trip of 2017.

It’s a tradition we started 5 summers ago, after reading stories from one of our favorite authors (winky face to you, Melanie Shankle) about the adventures and memories that came from doing the same thing with her best friend and their kids every year.

We loved the idea so much that we started our own version of the tradition: No husbands. No plane rides over oceans. No babysitters. No fancy Pinterest-worthy handcrafted car-entertainment. Just 2 Ambers, 5 kids, and the open road. Actually, this year we’ll have 6 kids because one of them has reached teenager status and officially needs a friend to survive a long car ride with “the littles”.

Every year the Road Trip is the best of times:imageimage

And the worst of times:

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But it never fails to be the highlight of our kids’ summer and the thing we all talk about for the rest of the break.

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One year the car broke down.

One year we promised to take the kids to the famous Sea Glass Beach, got lost on an 11 hour tour of the coastline, finally discovered that the beach was too dangerous because of high tides, and settled on getting ice cream as our “fun” for the day.

One year Amber was kept awake all night long for two nights in a row, driven crazy by the faintest sound of a Mariachi band that she assumed was outside her window (because that’s normal…?) but it turned out that the radio next to her bed was set to the Spanish station on the lowest volume.

One year my 6-year-old son lost his ever-loving mind in an Oscar-worthy meltdown at Disneyland because he was terrified of Johnny Depp- a fact we were all unaware of until we were boarding the ride for Pirates of the Caribbean and he literally tried to jump off the boat in a mix of terror and fury.

This year we’ve got Yosemite on the docket, then we’ll head to a random water park in a little town called Gilroy, which is apparently famous for it’s garlic production… So basically Gilroy Gardens will either be really cool or really lame, and I guess we’ll just have to find out when we get there. (Sidenote: “Gilroy Gardens” is actually harder to say than you’d think, so now we just choose from “Gilmore Girls”, “Bilbo Baggins”, “Gilroy Bilbo”, “Guru Gardens” or any other wildly incorrect but fun to say pairing of words.

After GooGoo Gardens we’ll head to Santa Cruz and Capitola for the last couple of days of our trip where we’re guaranteed some beach fun and delicious pastries from our favorite little cafe there, aptly named The Buttery. We’ve made it a point to stop there almost every single year, BECAUSE BUTTER.

When all else fails, we always have The Buttery.

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I guess you could say we’ve learned a few things about road-tripping the hard way over the years, so we thought we’d share a few insider tips, in case you’re hitting the road with your littles this summer too.

  1. Whatever number of water bottles you think you’ll need for a long car ride- double it.  This will also double the number of potty stops, but by God, we can’t let them go thirsty.
  2. Crossing the street with children is the equivalent of crossing the street with 5 drunks. Proceed with caution.
  3. Never underestimate the power of candy. Also never underestimate the power of promising a “surprise” even when you have no idea what that “surprise” is yet.
  4. If you’re wearing flip-flops in the vicinity of little kids, your toes will be stepped on multiple times a day. You will be expected not to mind this.
  5. Anytime after hour 7 in the car, there will be psychotic bursts of hysteria: laughing and gleefully shrieking one minute, crying and wailing the next. The kids may do this also.

Good luck, go with God, and, wish us luck on our next adventure!

I’ll let you know how it goes….


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Well the third annual Road-trip is officially on the books and I can honestly say it’s been the best one so far. Which is saying a lot, because we spent more time in the car than any other year.

32 accumulative hours, to be exact.

Not that I’m counting or anything.

As I told you guys last week, Amber and I decided to go big this year and brave the 12 hour drive to Disneyland. Which was really more like a 16 hour drive because CHILDREN. We spent 4 eight-hour days in the car (round-trip) and I’m happy to report that the kids handled it amazingly well. There was no melting down. There was no fighting. There weren’t even any complaints of hogging air-vents, or “she won’t stop looking at me!” like we’ve experienced in years past

And bonus: we listened to the entire Hamilton musical on the way, because what the heck else are you supposed to do in a car for 8 hours? Now, I should pause here to admit that I have been extremely resistant to all of the hype surrounding Hamilton. I had no intention of getting sucked in. I had no intention of caring at all. I certainly had no intention of becoming one of those people who are always blithering on about a musical and insisting other people listen to it.

But you guys.

It’s so good.

It really is incredible.

I had chills more than once listening to it.

It was kind of like that one time I thought I’d casually watch just the first episode of Scandal, and the next thing I knew it was 3am and I was in too deep to ever turn back. I’m afraid that Hamilton, much like Scandal, is a polarizing trend. You’re either in, or you’re out. There is no gray area. Read More…

Today was the first day of the annual road-trip that Amber and I take with our kids. We got up early, loaded my car to the literal brim with kids, beach bags, snacks, and the like, and after MUCH anticipation we finally hit the road.

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In case you missed it, last week I shared all about this tradition that we’ve started, and a few things we’ve learned over the years (the hard way). You can read about our past triumphs and tribulations here.

This year is a little bit special though, because we’ve decided to pull out all the stops. We’re going big, partly because we just wanted to, and partly because we threw the idea out there only halfway seriously, but then failed to plan anything else before it was time to actually go.

So it’s really happening.

We are going to Disneyland, people.

That means a 12 hour drive across state lines.

In the same car as the children.

It is either the best or the worst idea that we’ve ever had.

We told them this morning, and the kids had no idea, which was nothing short of a miracle because I have a hard time keeping a lid on fun surprises because EXCITEMENT and FEELS! So we waited all the way until today, and we let Teya (Amber’s oldest, who is 12 now, and opted for middle school church camp instead of the road-trip this year) tell them so she still felt involved on some level.

There was an excessive amount of hooting, hollering, and cheering upon hearing the word “Disneyland” so Amber and I were sufficiently pleased with ourselves. Read More…

Well I don’t want to jinx anything by saying it out loud, but I do believe things are finally quieting down around here. Our schedules have been so busy for the last two months that I’ve landed in July and I’m not even sure how I got here.

I’m entirely disoriented but I only have 5 days to get my bearings, because the most important week of summer (as far as the kids are concerned) is almost upon us.

It’s here, you guys.

It’s time for The Annual Ambers Road-trip. Read More…

It’s my first real post of 2016 and there’s so much that I want to talk to you guys about! So much actually, that I realized I need to divide it up into 5 separate posts, so as not to make your eyes bleed from exhaustion by trying to squeeze it all into one. See how much I care about you guys? You’re welcome.

It’s been a very busy few weeks around here. Christmas happened. 15 of my relatives came to town to celebrate with us, which including my local family equaled 25 of us all together. It was quite the Griswold style affair. I hosted our traditional Christmas Eve dinner, so I don’t mean to brag or anything, but that’s a lot of people and if you need me I’ll just be over here high-fiving a million angels because DISHES.

Here we all are, squeezed into one photo in my kitchen.

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It was a lovely time with family and- bonus! It turns out my children thrive on extra chaos. They loved it.

Here’s our own little family on our porch on Christmas Eve, because for some reason that has become our tradition since moving into the Forever House.

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Every holiday we take a picture on the porch. It may feel redundant as the years pass by, but one day it’ll just be Husband and I standing there and I want to document all the years we have with our littles on this porch.

As you guys know, we’d been planning to surprise the kids on Christmas morning with the very big news that we’d be leaving to join our best friends in Hawaii a few days later. You also know that I held on to this secret for an entire year which is basically the biggest accomplishment of my life. I’m happy to report that all my be-labored efforts to keep a lid on it were totally worth it and their reactions fully lived up to my expectations.

They basically lost their minds. It was the best. I really wanted to include the video of their reactions here so you could see for yourself, but unfortunately I’m not tech savvy enough to figure out how to do that so you’ll just have to use your imagination. But just know that it was totally magical.

There was a minor (major) kerfuffle the day before we were meant to leave when we realized that we (and by we I mean Husband) booked tickets to the WRONG ISLAND. Yes, he did. After some very expensive last minute rearranging, and a rather pointless pit stop in Honolulu, we joined our friends in Maui for 9 whole glorious sleeps. In fact, on the plane ride home Husband and I had to recount this together at least three times on our hands because it went by so quickly that we were convinced the whole trip was only 4 or 5 days long. It turns out Hawaii is a strange vortex where time has no actual meaning. The days were long and leisurely but the collective whole of them felt as if they were so fast they’d never even happened. Like some kind of dreamy and tropical mirage in the desert of regular life.

It was wonderful. Read More…

Today I’m writing from beneath the comfort of my favorite new blanket. My friend Megan gave it to me for my birthday and I love it because it is the exact weight that a blanket should be. Just heavy enough to feel cozy but not so heavy that you feel trapped. Lately I keep wrapping up in this blanket and staring out my window while I wonder what to write about.

I think I’m still experiencing a little bit of burnout after writing every single day in the month of October. But I’ve taken a long enough break and now I feel all the words brewing again so I need to just start getting them out (because word-constipation is a real and serious affliction y’all).

As usual, life has been busy and full and hard and hilarious. I’ve written a bit lately about some of the heavier things happening in my heart but luckily for you, today I don’t feel heavy. Today I’m happily wrapped in my good blanket and I’m getting very excited for Christmas morning- mostly because we have a big surprise for the kids this year.

A few days after Christmas we are flying to Hawaii to join our best friends for a week of sun, fun, and hopefully not getting terribly sunburned. This may be asking too much for a family of palies who’s skin is basically the color of blue iced milk, but whatever. As long as there are cocktails with umbrellas I shall soldier on, regardless of what shade of magenta my skin is.

This plan was hatched over a year ago which means that I have kept a secret for an entire year. If you know me at all, you know that this is basically the biggest Christmas Miracle of all. I am not good at faking or lying or keeping exciting tidbits to myself. I’ve almost blown it in front of the kids at least a hundred times. If I can just keep a lid on it for 5 more days it’ll be arguably the biggest accomplishment of my life.

I keep daydreaming about the children’s reaction, envisioning them jumping up and down, squealing, and thanking us profusely while maybe a single tear falls from their unbelieving eyes the moment we tell them, but I should probably reign that in because more than likely they’ll be over-tired or overstimulated after opening presents and their real life reaction may not live up to my theatrical standards.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

There are three more things that bear mentioning here before I crawl out from under my blanket and start doing productive things that require me to move the rest of my body. Read More…

There isn’t a time in my life that I can’t recall identifying as one half of “The Ambers”. My best friend and I share the same name and have been best friends for 30 years now. Maybe it’s kitschy to share a name but I’ve got to say, it’s also proved to be rather convenient over the years considering we have often come as a package deal. 

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Look at us. Just a couple of regular, wholesome Ambers.

We hope we are raising the bar with our name because I’m not sure you’ve ever noticed but there is a definite THING with Ambers. Literally every Amber in the history of film or television has been either ill-mannered, ill-fated, or both. Like a mean-spirited stripper or the dim-witted cheerleader in a horror film who’s always the first one to get killed because she runs up the stairs to her bedroom instead of running out the door front door. It’s tragic, really.

If you’ll humor me, I’d like to share some hard-hitting evidence

Exhibit A:

Amber from Clueless (or “Ambular” if you prefer) who was a total snob, a “valley girl”, and basically the 90’s version of someone who “literally can’t even”.

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Exhibit B:

This one happens to be my personal favorite and is a classic case of an Amber both ill-fated and ill-mannered. Amy Poehler’s recurring role as “Amber” on SNL was overly confident, one-legged, flatulent, and proud of it. She was always going on VHI dating shows and saying things like “Yah, I farted. Jealous?” and “Here’s why I’m the bomb: I’m super fine, I’m round-the-clock-horny, and I got one leg. JEALOUS?”

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Whatever this Amber lacked in appendages she made up for in sass and poor taste.

Next up we’ve got two Ambers who had a rough start but against all odds, are trying to make a better name for themselves…

Exhibits C + D:

Amber from Sofia the First. If you can’t tell from disdainful arch in her eyebrow, this Amber is both bratty and entitled. She’s mean, shallow, and divisive but it’s Disney so they’re trying to give her an arc. You know, have her learn a few life lessons and become a better person.

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And then we’ve got the actual person, Amber Rose, who started out as an exotic dancer/adult film star but seems to have made a better name for herself. This is also a personal favorite because it just so happens that my-best-friend-Amber’s middle name is Rose. I mean, you just can’t make this stuff up.

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Then we’ve got the same story, but in reverse with an Amber who started off well but then lost her way.

Exhibit E: Amanda Bynes as Amber.

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Next up is a whole group of Ambers in film that you’ll miss if you’re not paying close attention. We’ll call this Exhibit F:

The first in this group is an Amber that I cannot actually show you because she was a stripper with a neck brace in the movie That’s My Boy and well…I couldn’t find any decent pictures of her. It was that bad.

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Even in the recent Spy movie starring Melissa McCarthy, which touted some “kick-ass women”,

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there is a scene in which Susan and Nancy are discussing what their spy names should be and Nancy says her name will be Amber Valentine, to which Susan replies, “Why? Is she a porn star?”

You know how labrador retrievers are always named Bo? Well, exotic dancers are always named Amber. It’s the same thing. This carries over from movies to television too. Remember last season on Modern Family when Phil and Claire’s trashy neighbors caused all that trouble? That was classic work of an Amber. (Interesting side-note: Steve Zahn is my husband’s doppelgänger, so maybe I was just destined to be an Amber.)

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Finally, I give you the Amber that is the epitome of this unfortunate stigma:

Amber from the movie The Other Woman.

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She is not the wife of the leading man, not even the mistress, she is the third wench in the equation. She’s always a little slow on the uptake and she’s definitely not the brains of the operation. Her job is to be bubbly, take selfies, run on the beach,

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and do things like play paper-rock-scissors to see who has to sleep with the guy.

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Now don’t get me wrong. This Amber is bangin’. I have no problem being associated with the likes of Kate Upton every now and again. She’s hot and that’s cool and everything, but what’s the deal? Seriously. Can someone write a part for an Amber who happens to be a fun loving librarian? Or a small-town veterinarian looking for love? Or a witty engineer who moonlights as a stand up comedian? Or a doctor? 

Just sayin.

 

image* This is Day 20 of a 31 Day series on Keeping It Real. You can find all of the posts in this series here I hope you follow along and join the conversation! *

I don’t mean to brag or anything, but the Ambers kind of nailed it with The Roadtrip this year. You guys. We wound up visiting seven cities in four days with five children. I’m no mathematician but I’m pretty sure that all adds up to WHAT THE DEVIL.

I don’t feel like we were moving at a break-neck pace or that we were even operating on much of a schedule. Like I said, we played it pretty fast and loose in the planning department this year. It just kind of worked out that we were able to squeeze in quite a bit. Plus, it didn’t take us long to realize it was best to keep the troops moving along- because when five kids are tired and bored things can start to get dicey.

I intended to break this up into two posts but at the end of Day 2 I lost my internet connection at the hotel and lost my whole post along with it because it hadn’t saved correctly. Just envision some light cursing, a 5 minute denial stage, and lots of uselessly aggressive tapping of the keyboard and you get the idea. Since I am recapping the whole trip in one post I promise I shall do my best to be brief. (That’s a lie. Don’t you know me at all?)

Read More…

Dear Melanie,

(I was going to address you as Mrs. Shankle, but I doubted you would appreciate that. Plus, I just couldn’t bring myself to be so formal when I feel as if we are already kindred spirits.)

I was hesitant to write this letter, as I was concerned I would come across as (at best) too earnest, or (at worst) like a spastic-stalker-fan. For some reason it felt of utmost importance that I seem cool and portray the exact amount of enthusiasm that one would hope to find in a reader. Which is ridiculous really, because if you happen to be reading this letter, you are on my website, and one quick look around will prove that I have publicly lost all chill and embarrassed myself via the Internet many times. I don’t know why this always seems to be my way. What can I say. I am an open book.

In fact I have often felt much like YOUR open book.

Wait! That came out wrong.

Let’s start over.

Read More…

The other Amber and I recently embarked a road trip. Just us, five kids, and the open road.

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Some people might think that sounds crazy and that we’ve clearly suffered a lapse in judgement.

I just like to think we are fun and brave.

The truth of the matter is that other than my husband, she is the only person I could be trapped in a car with for 16 hours (more on that later) and a whole gaggle of children and not want to club myself over the head.

In fact, we might even have a little fun.  Read More…