20 Great Stay-Cation Ideas (how to vacation without leaving your home)

 

Not all those who wander are lost.” – J.R.R. Tolkien

Visit The Art of Domesticity, where I shared the below ideas on how to vacation without leaving your home.  My friend, Sandra Maddox, has a passion for creating a beautiful life-giving sanctuary within the home.  Her home and life reflect her passion.  I treasure being able to share my thoughts.

There are numerous misconceptions about traveling these days. The thought of traveling can be daunting depending on the season of life one currently is in. After all, if you have several little ones in tow you might think twice before embarking on international travel. One’s budget might impose travel constraints. Maybe current travel restrictions or the recent media circulation of airlines removing paying passengers from planes have you less excited. My family is staying close to home this summer as our teenager has various summer commitments allowing us only a week of family togetherness. The idea of traveling when everyone else does isn’t very appealing either considering the lines are longer, the prices are more expensive and the weather tends to be hotter. For various reasons, staying close to home can be an attractive option.

Early in our marriage, while living in the Washington DC area, our weekends provided for lots of new adventures as we visited monuments and museums, rode bikes along the numerous trails, and visited nearby points of interest. Living on a small budget, we sought activities that were cost effective or free. I was flabbergasted when I’d share about our weekend adventures with locals and they would remark that they had never done such and such. Having had the opportunity to stay in Portland for two summers, we would make the most of our weekends taking in the local sights via walking tours, sightseeing buses, or driving to areas close by such as the beach, vineyards, and mountains.

Why is it that we can live in the same place for over a decade and never explore what’s right under our noses?

Let’s admit it, we probably have spent more time exploring places far away from home than we have in our hometowns. This is common. People tend to put off local exploration assuming they will eventually get around to it but life gets in the way. There are bound to be places around us we haven’t explored or activities we haven’t tried. So, lets purpose this summer to be local explorers and tourists in our hometown. Some call this a staycation.

  1. Don’t know where to begin? Of course, you do it’s just a click away, the Internet offers a bazillion ideas. Some possible searches might include: Things to do around (your place of interest), Top 10 Thing to do in (your place of interest), 10 best places to eat (your place of interest) —Visit tripadvisor and click on things to do.
  2. Plan for FUN!!! Set a reasonable and realistic budget for your at home adventure.
  3. Seek input from all family members and incorporate something from everyone participating.
  4. Subscribe to a local monthly magazine(s). I receive Austin Monthly plus subscribe to their website as they curate the best of what our city has to offer from culture to cuisine. FYI, a local magazine makes a great welcome gift for newcomers.
  5. Search and sign up for local city deals through TravelZooGroupon, and LivingSocial. You can save up to 70% on hotels, events, food & drinks and things to do. When I knew we would be spending previous summers in Portland, I purchased many fun excursions including places to eat and things to do.
  6. Download a traveling app as many are available to guide you to awesome places around any town. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut going to the same places. Use this opportunity to explore new places. Musement helps travelers get the best from destinations by providing a great choice of local tours and attractions. likeAlocal is a city guide of sorts. See Mashable’s 5 apps for exploring a new city like a local, Instagram offers suggestions on various locations by simply tapping on the search icon from the front screen, open the Places tab, to browse through most popular and recent photos people are posting at a certain location.
  7. Document your adventures by taking lots of photos.
  8. Incorporate what you enjoy most to the discovery process. Personally, we explore new cities by searching for third wave coffee shops or walking trails. Our search for the best coffee and trails makes exploring more exciting.
  9. Go camping in your backyard or search for best places close to home as most kids love being outdoors.
  10. Visit the local convention and visitors bureau for maps, discounts, and other helpful suggestions.
  11. Consider booking a hotel, if finances allow, as the point of a staycation is to feel as if you got away and makes it easier to see all the urban sights if you live out in the ‘burbs.
  12. Catch the summer blockbuster movies or rent those you might have missed.
  13. Take a nap. This is a great time for R&R 😉
  14. Be adventurous. Do something you’ve never done.
  15. Book a city tour to experience your hometown with new eyes. Consider a Segway, bus, bike, or walking tour.
  16. Make day trips to local tourist sites close to home.
  17. Tour local museums and galleries.
  18. Leave work where it belongs. Avoid contact with colleagues plus resolve not to conquer the to-do list while at home.
  19. Unplug from electronics and step away from the computer.
  20. Purposefully engage with one another by being fully present.

Do you have other strategies for getting away from it all in your own home? I would love to hear!

Blessings,

Cherie Werner

Thirteen Reasons Why, Has Me Asking WHY?

 

There has been lots of hype and controversy surrounding Netflix’s original series Thirteen Reasons Why. Produced by Selena Gomez, the original series exists now as Netflix’s most-watched series ever and most tweeted about series for 2017. Crazy!!! Given it was released just a month ago (3/31/17) worldwide on Netflix streaming. Even crazier was the decision to release ALL 13 episodes at once thus providing viewers the choice to either slowly watch or binge. Clay Jensen narrates Hannah Baker’s last hours and plays the leading role throughout the series.  Jenson took his time to listen to the tapes, unlike his peers who quickly listened and passed it on to the next person. WHY is this series so hugely popular?

The series is rated MA for Mature Audiences ONLY which means the series is designed to be viewed by adults, and therefore may be unsuitable for children younger than 17. It contains all of the following: graphic violence (V), explicit sexual activity (S), and crude indecent language (L).  WHY is a show targeted at teenagers depicting sexual abuse and suicide in such graphic detail?

This series will be shaping kids both positively and negatively. What will your response be? Hannah Baker said, “ there’s so much wrong in the world, there is so much hurt.  I couldn’t take knowing I’d make it worse nor could I take knowing it would never get any better.”  Do you want your child believing this lie?  WHY such hopelessness?  It helps to remember that our attitudes impact our children. May we actively be empowering our children to be world changers, to know their life can make a difference, and remind them life after high school usually gets better as their brain fully develops around 25.  Age matures you. More importantly, God’s plans are to prosper you, not to harm you. He has plans to give you hope and a future.

Personally, I found Thirteen Reasons Why, toward the end of the series, to be disturbing and several episodes were too graphic for me to watch entirely without turning my head.  Netflix warns about the disturbing content in episodes (9, 12, & 13) with the following statement, “the following episode contains scenes that some viewers may find disturbing and/or may not be suitable for younger audiences, including a graphic depiction of rape and sexual assault or suicide. Viewer discretion is advised.”  Is this warning enough? Many schools are now also warning parents about the show. While experts urge caution in letting teens watch it.  New Zealand last week banned teenagers from watching it alone.  As parents, we should be asking WHY?

Curiosity got the best of me and I sort of binged watched the series during my mid-April flights to and from Vancouver, BC. I was totally sucked in as I’m fascinated with youth culture.  In a nutshell, the series is about a teenage girl (Hannah Baker)  who commits suicide and leaves behind audio cassettes detailing the 13 reasons why she ultimately decided to end her life. The series begins with Clay Jensen finding a mysterious box with his name on it and inside are cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker,  his classmate, friend, and crush. Who two weeks earlier tragically ended her life. My biggest frustration is with the show’s premise that the main character is basically blaming others for her ultimate decision and seeks revenge through the tapes she has left behind. She begins by saying, ‘I hope you’re ready because I’m about to tell you the story of my life.  More specifically, why my life ended. And if you’re listening to these tapes, you’re one of the reasons why.” This is so messed up and wrong! When is revenge ever an option? God is the ultimate judge.

If you have a middle schooler wanting to watch the series as, “everyone is…”  I’d encourage you to be the parent.  It’s ok to say no if you feel the content would be triggering or mature for your child.  Thirteen Reasons Why is wildly popular among middle school kids (ages 11-14) who are watching it without the knowledge of their parents and often in one sitting. I think many parents are afraid. They really are unaware of what their kids are doing or what goes on with their kids at school.  WHY not ask your tween if they have watched it and if it’s being discussed among their friends or at school?

If your teen wants to watch it, I would suggest to view it together with caution. Consider watching beforehand to know when or if to fast forward through troubling parts.  Use this opportunity to discuss the hard but real topics teens are likely encountering themselves or those around them. Don’t minimize their experiences.

I feel the series did a great job of realistically conveying some of the difficulties teens face during high school. I can’t pretend to fully understand what today’s youth are experiencing. However, I believe cyber bullying and social media have added to the complexity of teen issues by providing an ease with which peers can rip apart one another.

I was extremely frustrated by the parental and adult authority portrayal. All of the characters other than Clays’ are seen as independent of their parents. The parents were “depicted” as absent, uninvolved, and clueless to their teens’ struggles. WHY dismiss the importance of parents in a teen’s life? Then there’s Mr. Porter, the school guidance counselor, who did not adequately address Hannah’s plea for help.  Mr. Porter provided Hannah with no help and even insinuated she might have contributed to her sexual assault and should move on thereby adding to her isolation, shame, and hurt.  He shut her down by minimizing her complaints which were the last straw for Hannah. I hope teachers and counselors are not all viewed as untrustworthy and incapable of helping when needs are expressed.

Below are a few issues covered in the series that parents could discuss with their child even if you or they haven’t seen the series.  I think the best practice is to be proactive versus reactive.  Let’s be honest many of these are sin issues. We all have the propensity towards sin, however because of Christ’s atoning sacrifice we have no condemnation in our shortcomings and inclinations.

  • Deceit and lying
  • Body Shaming
  • Choices (good and bad)
  • Depression
  • Death
  • Guilt
  • Shame
  • Gossiping
  • Cyber bullying
  • Rape
  • Alcoholism and drug use and abuse
  • The consequences of driving while under the influence
  • Being responsible for your actions
  • Being willing to face the consequences of our actions
  • Disrespect of parents
  • Reputation
  • Worship of athletes
  • Social Pressures
  • Sex before marriage
  • Same-sex attraction
  • Homosexuality
  • Voyeurism
  • Stalking
  • Etc.

 

Suicide is sadly nothing new.  The tragedy of a young person dying because of overwhelming hopelessness or frustration remains devastating.  Parents, siblings, classmates, teachers, and neighbors are often left wondering if they could have prevented such terrible actions taken in a  young person turning to suicide. This was true of fictional character Hannah Baker, in the series Thirteen Reasons Why which shows Hannah’s suicide in great detail. I was stunned and horrified at what I did see and sadly, I can never erase those images. WHY did the producers choose to not follow the book where the character ends her life by taking pills?  Remember, that no one thing leads to suicide, and many people who experience bullying or the array of issues Hannah experienced do not go on to attempt suicide. I felt like the series implied that there was no other option. However, there are resources for our young people to connect and be guided by in their times of need.

It was reported that Netflix did seek professional insight from psychologist Dan Reidenberg who is the executive director of Suicide Awareness Voices of Education regarding the series and Netflix’s was advised to NOT go ahead with the project.  Reporting on suicide indicated that research studies have found that news coverage of suicide can increase the likelihood of suicide in vulnerable individuals.  So, WHY not heed the expert’s opinion?  Was this series made responsibly?

Below are other helpful resources.

I struggled with how to end this post. Watching this series has haunted me as it triggered a few personal issues from my past prompting me to want to speak out. During my Sophomore year of high school, the homecoming queen tragically ended her life.  She was beautiful, liked by everyone but I was left with the question WHY?  Sadly, there are several others I know who have ended their life leaving behind loved ones with guilt, shame, hurt and questioning WHY?

Let’s each do our part by connecting, being available, knowing the signs of depression, being kind, basically, do whatever you can do to make this world a better place.

 

Character Matters, A Few of My Favorite Resources

character2

One of the best ways to teach character is to surround your children with good literature. Simply put, read to your kids. When you read to your children, it opens the door for conversations to ensue. Stories have the ability to teach, motivate and inspire our children to dream bigger.

There are so many wonderful books that can help teach our children about love, honor, respect, care, etc.

Below are numerous resources regarding character traits that have somehow benefited my family. Please know that while I have enjoyed these resources I do not necessarily agree with ALL content presented. 

Whole Heart Ministries I am little bias, as I adore WHM. Sally has been my mentor from afar since 1997. Today she is my real life friend 😉 My husband and I serve on the board of WHM and highly recommend their resources. Start with Our Family’s 24 Ways, which is a great devotional for teaching character to children of all ages.
Character First This is one of my family’s favorite resources especially as my girls began school.
Doorpost
  • The If-Then Chart
  • The Blessing Chart
  • The Go To The Ant Chart – understanding diligences and laziness.
  • The Brother Offender Chart – teaching children conflict resolution in a Godly way.
  • Be sure to check out the package deals
Character in Action I have not personally used this but I did look it over and it seems to have great content.
Family Life Today Encouragement and practical help for you personally, for your marriage, and raising your parenting. So many great articles and resources.
Family Matters I highly recommend Raising Kids For True Greatness and Home Grown Kids.
Focus on the Family
  • Kids of Integrity tools for growing Godly character. This is so good!
  • Kids Clubhouse
  • Adventures in Odyssey
  • Lots of wonderful family resources. Catch their daily message via the Internet.
Generation Virtue Generations of Virtue, is a non-profit ministry staffed by full-time volunteers. They sell resources to empower parents to continue the purity training in their own homes. If you desire to bring up pure kids they need to be taught character.
Lamplighter Publishing The mission of Lamplighter Ministries is “to make ready a people prepared for the Lord, by building Christ-like character one story at a time.” This is a wonderful resource for parents on Character Development born out of 25 years of research and personal experience. They carry many old and rare books highlighting various character traits.
Character Education Character education books can definitely add a powerful kick to your character education lessons — either as a fun supplement to use with formal character education programs or as lesson-building materials for teachers creating their own compelling character education curriculum.

Other Misc. books and resource titles I’ve enjoyed. I usually shop at CBDAmazon, and Half Price Books. Keep a list of resources you desire as you can find really good deals at Goodwill, yard sales, home school used book sales, etc…

Resource list

Biographies and books about Christian hero’s.

Reading about hero’s and life changers who have gone before us is a great way to ignite character in children.

Help me add to my list;  I’d love to hear some of your favorite books and resources for teaching character. Coming soon, Five Easy Ways to Instill Character Because It Matters.