Memories Are Greater Than Stuff

Before I became a dad, I met a couple in Los Angeles that loved traveling. Almost every month they visited a new place, and I was completely fascinated by them. No, they weren’t two rich, childless people who had nothing but money and free time to spend. We’re talking about an everyday, middle class couple with two young children.

One weekend they would take the kids to San Francisco. Another weekend they would drive to Arizona. When they wanted to go all out on a vacation, they would take a family cruise to an exotic location. But here’s the thing: all of this costs money. How could this typical all-American family afford to travel so much?

And that’s exactly what I asked them.

The dad looked at me and smiled, “Because we only spend our money on creating memories. We don’t have the newest gadgets, cable television, or fancy cars – but the time we spend together while traveling is so incredibly valuable. As a parent you’ll realize that memories are greater than stuff.”

Memories are greater than stuff. I’ll never forget that line. Why? Because it’s so true.

Now that I’m a dad, I splurge less on stuff and more on creating memories. I mean, think about it – will our kids remember that we bought them $20 shoes instead of $120 shoes? Or will they remember that we used the money we saved to go an amazing vacation? I can’t speak for everyone, but I can’t remember what kind of clothes or shoes I wore when I was a kid, but I remember every family vacation as vividly as I remember what I ate for breakfast this morning. That’s because the strongest memories are forged through strong emotions (happiness, love, fear, sadness, etc.)

When Carnival offered to take my family on an 8-day eastern Caribbean cruise, I didn’t hesitate to say “yes” because I knew the opportunity to create lifelong memories with my family would be there. Speaking of strong emotions, I remember how freaked out my daughter was when I asked her to go down the waterslide on the beautiful Carnival Sunshine.

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After a few hugs and a pep talk from Daddy, she finally decided to go down the kiddie slide and was completely overjoyed afterwards.

The noteworthy part of this story is my daughter still talks about that experience and smiles when she thinks of the fun she had on that cruise. Do you think she (or any kid) would remember anything about the stuff we buy them? Probably not. And if they did, the emotions evoked wouldn’t compare to the emotions that come from the things we do with them.

Memories are greater than stuff.

I’m thankful for that man who gave me such a valuable piece of advice as I navigate through the oftentimes crazy world of parenting. If there’s a downside to all of this, it’s that my daughter constantly asks when we will go on another cruise to create some more memories. But hey, that’s the price you have to pay when you’re having fun.

This post was created for Away We Go with Carnival, the destination for getting in the getaway state of mind. Head on over.


Daddy’s Day Off

By now you’re probably aware of this, but I recently took my wife, two young daughters, and my parents on an 8-day eastern Caribbean cruise courtesy of Carnival. All of us had a blast, but our experience would’ve been much different if it wasn’t for Camp Carnival (more on that in a minute).

As you also probably know, my daughters are four and two years old and they are the center of my universe. I love them with every fiber of my being and my whole mission in life is dedicated to ensuring they have the best lives possible.

Consider that paragraph, my “parenting disclaimer.”

I spent a TON of time with my kids during the cruise, but sometimes I needed a break from toddler tantrums and diaper changes to keep my sanity intact. Enter Camp Carnival. It’s a place where kids can enjoy arts, crafts, games, singing, and a ton of fun with experienced counselors.
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I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous at first when I left my girls there for a couple of hours, but they had such an amazing time that they were excited to go back again the following day.

So what did they do?

One day they had a dance party, another day it was a pirate-themed party, another day they had a rubber dart contest – but the common denominator was always fun. And as any parent knows, the best endorsement kids can give to something is when they want more of it.
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The reality is that taking part in the excursions/activities that my wife, my parents, and I enjoyed would be impossible without proper childcare. No matter how you slice it, ziplining with a two-year old and a four-year old probably wouldn’t be the best idea. To have the peace of mind that my kids were safe and having fun made me feel completely relieved and way less guilty while we enjoyed some adult fun.

Speaking of adult fun, what did we do when the kids were playing at Camp Carnival?

We took a mixology course. Beforehand, the only drink I could “make” was pouring a beer into a glass. Now I can make the meanest, dirtiest martini in the world. Okay, not exactly – but I’m much better at making mixed drinks than I was prior to entering the ship.

I convinced my mom to go ziplining with me in St. Kitts. Like I said in a previous post, my mom’s idea of “scary” is overcooking a pasta casserole. To see the look on her face during that experience is something I’ll remember for the rest of my life. When we talked on the phone last week, she asked, “When is our next cruise?? I want to do that zipline thing again.” All of a sudden the woman who gave birth to me is now a card-carrying member of the daredevil club.

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Then my wife and I went on a Segway tour in Grand Turk. Call me crazy, but I’ve always wanted to ride on one of those things, and to be able to do it in such a beautiful location was priceless.

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During the Segway tour in Grand Turk, there was a horse happily walking on the beach by itself and I snapped this photo. Talk about something that should be on a postcard, right? Good thing my girls weren’t with me or else they would’ve insisted we brought it home as a pet.

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And last but not least, I led a band singing Rick Springfield’s “Jesse’s Girl” in front of over 100 strangers, and it wasn’t pretty. But hey, at least I had fun. I can’t speak for the folks who had to listen to me, though.

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The best part of all of this was coming back to my kids who were so excited to tell me about all of the fun things they did while I was away. They had such a blast that on the flight home, my daughter said, “I don’t want to go to school tomorrow! I want to go to Camp Carnival!” That pretty much tells the story.

I know that I’m a fatherhood author, activist, and public speaker – but everyone needs a break from the parenting routine to enjoy some grown up fun with loved ones. Doing so helps recharge my batteries to make me an even better dad to my two daughters – and for this particular vacation, I owe a huge thanks to Camp Carnival for making that happen.

And if recharging those batteries means rocking out to 80’s music, then so be it.

This post was created for Away We Go with Carnival, the destination for getting in the getaway state of mind. Head on over.


Grandparents, Toddlers, and Vacation – Oh My!

If you’re following me on social media, you’ve probably noticed a lot of photos taken of me and my family on an 8-day eastern Caribbean cruise courtesy of Carnival. Without question, it was the best vacation of my life, but I’ll get to that part in a minute. First let me talk about how it all went down.

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