Summer Vacation Packing Checklist

All year long, I look forward to our annual summer vacation…except for the preparation part! (Isn’t it funny how packing for a trip can feel like a major production?) As I mentioned on Saturday, we’re enjoying a short break away from home. While there are a lot of good things about travel, filling, hauling, and fighting over suitcases is certainly not one of them.

In the past, we’ve tried different methods—two big bags to share, one small bag per person, mix of big and small bags, etc. I wouldn’t say any of them were perfect, but paring down does help considerably. (Mind you, I don’t advocate paring down to the bare minimum, since that tends to end up with an “emergency” trip to a 24-hr Walgreens at 3:00 AM for bug spray, allergy pills, and chips. Yes, this has happened more than once, and no, I’m not proud…)

Like most things, making a list and sticking to it will save time and sanity. This Summer Vacation Packing Checklist from the Glitter Guide is fabulous.

Not all items will be applicable for all folks, of course, but having it printed out on paper and being able to check off the boxes as needed is a lifesaver. The clothing and shoe lists are great as a general guide. I’m not sure anyone needs a jacket or raincoat this time of year, though. My own list includes most of the basic beauty and hygiene products, but dragging along a hair dryer, hair curler, AND a hair straightener seems rather excessive. Customizing, of course, is key.


What’s a must-have item on your packing list?

A Repulsive Encounter with Jewish Voice for Peace

Anyone who’s been blogging for a while is used to receiving unsolicited emails. On a daily basis, I get numerous notes and pitches, most of which have a Jewish theme. Some are relevant, others are not, but the occasional few are downright repulsive.

Unbeknownst to me, my email was somehow added to a mailing list for a group called Jewish Voice for Peace, Boston Chapter. (If you’re not familiar with them, google it. I won’t link to them for obvious reasons.)

This radical, anti-Zionist group opposes many existing and proposed Jewish settlements in Israel, condemns AIPAC, spreads fake, pro-Arab propaganda, has been classified as a hate organization by the ADL, and, most shocking of all, actually supports the BDS movement that aims to bankrupt the State of Israel!

According to their own website, these are their stated goals, all of which are rejected by every legitimate member of the Jewish community who know it’s simply not true:

  • An end to the Israeli military occupation of the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem.
  • Full and equal rights for Palestinian citizens of Israel
  • An end to unconditional U.S. military aid to Israel.
  • Recognition of Palestinian refugees right to return home.

Obviously, this group is on the opposite end of the spectrum from my views, as I wrote last year when I discussed my utter contempt for JVP and their activities. Nothing has changed since then. There is not one idea they put forth that I don’t completely, wholeheartedly reject. I support America. I support Israel. I support Jewish values. I support rational thinking. I support truth, justice, and honesty. These sickos do none of the above.

On the deepest, most personal level, it saddens me that there are other Jews in the Boston area that participate with this band of misfits. (Yes, it’s their right to do so, but it’s also tragic.) Obviously, I can easily remove myself from a mailing list and I don’t have to attend any of their crazy events. What I can’t do, however, is pretend that it’s ok. It’s definitely not ok and those of us who truly want to help our fellow Jews, both in Israel and the Diaspora, have to warn others about the danger.

Not all Jewish groups are good; that’s the unfortunate truth. Some of them actually have a hidden anti-Semitic agenda. Before we give our time, our money, or our stamp of approval to them, it is vital that we research what we’re supporting. I challenge anyone to prove to me that JVP has anything good to offer. (They don’t!) Remember: they can’t exist without funding and if that money dries up, they will stop.

Beyond not giving them money, we should be combatting the lies, I think, through blogs and social media. When they tweet something that’s blatantly false, we can refute it. When they post fake pictures on Facebook, we can refute that, too. There are reasonable, legal, and healthy ways to fight hate, after all.

If, like me, you denounce Jewish Voice for Peace and other sick groups like them, make it known publically. Good, truthful, God-glorifying speech has to eventually drown out the lies and filth, so please don’t stay silent!

Healing After an Unthinkable Tragedy

Nobody is immune from pain, suffering, illness, misery, and hardship—life is a constant rollercoaster ride of ups and downs. While most misfortune can be overcome eventually, there are certain types of loss that are so devastating, so unthinkable, it’s almost impossible to deal with, let alone recover from. This guest post from Theresa James is very difficult to read, let alone imagine happening firsthand (I literally sobbed!). She has lived through the absolute worst tragedy that could strike any mother and made it to the other side. Anyone who is feeling exceptionally low will find hope in her difficult journey.

It’s often said that everyone has a story to tell. My story is different than most, but perhaps others will be able to relate, having dealt with their own hardships. The full account can be found in my book, Healing Tears, but the following will provide an overview:

My nightmare began in the summer of 1998. Just days after my divorce was final, my ex-husband broke into my house and murdered my three children before killing himself. I believe he left me alive to live a “hell on earth,” and truly, that’s what it was—an absolute hell.

During the divorce process, which was exceptionally was ugly, I had journaled daily to cope. After my children’s deaths, I continued to write and express my emotions on paper—my anger, hatred, devastation and grief. I missed them so much it was nearly unbearable!

After almost a year of making notes, I decided to put them into book format, which took another year. Reliving everything that happened forced me to work through those emotions, and I promised myself that I would not give in, nor would I give up. I knew my children would not want me to succumb to the negative thoughts and feelings; they would want me to have love, joy and happiness again. Though I was dealing with tremendous pain and grief, I was fortunate to have unconditional love and support from my family and friends. I also worked with an incredible therapist who helped me keep my sanity.

The healing process is just that: a process. There is no quick fix. In 1999, I made the decision to get remarried, to a wonderful man whom I had known for many years prior. During the next 16 years, I tried to live a “normal” life with Todd and his two children. I changed careers and we moved to another state. I made new friends and only shared my private pain with a select few. 

In 2008, Todd and I moved to the Chicagoland area due to a job change for him. I again sought the assistance of a therapist and continued the sessions  I started years earlier. In the summer of 2016, I decided it was time to release my story to the public. (Publishing my book was always my goal, but I felt that back when it first occurred, I was not ready, mentally and emotionally, to release it.)

Sadly, our society now deals with horrible crimes more frequently and other mothers have experienced the same type of loss. My wish is that anyone who reads my story will find the inspiration to overcome their own struggles, whatever those may be. I want to encourage others to share their own stories, as well. The more we share with others, the more we will develop compassion and understanding. Each one of us is trying to do the best that we can while working through life’s struggles, seeking love. None of us should have to do it alone.

About the Author:

Theresa James is a writer and a proud veteran of the US Air Force. She has triumphed over tragedy by using her experience as a crime victim to create books of hope and healing, inspired and cheered on from above by the memory of her beloved children Sean, Jarod, and Brandi. She and her husband live in Indiana. Connect with Theresa through her website.

Caviar: The Best Restaurant Delivery Service

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