“We have flown the air like birds and swum the sea like fishes, but have yet to learn the simple act of walking the earth like brothers. ~ Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.”
Blogger to Shine is an interview series about travel bloggers who wishes to inspire readers, boggle their wanderlust and as well share their wisdom to everyone. The bloggers we interview are very inspiring individuals who are following their dreams to quench their thirst for adventure and as well generous enough to write and share their experiences, tips and tricks, mishaps and positive vibes. We are certainly lucky enough to get a chance to interview some of the wonderful people who are making a small difference in this world through adventures and blogging.
Tell us something about yourself (short bio, interests, and trivia about you).
My name is Theresa and I’m a single mom to an adorable, rambunctious, and adventurous toddler. I proudly identify as Filipina-American, but was born in Cairo, Egypt to Filipino parents. My mom was employed with the Philippine Embassy in Egypt while my dad was studying to become a medical doctor at Cairo University. They subsequently parted ways, and my mom, younger brother, and I later immigrated to the U.S. where we set our roots in Southern California. We’ve lived in Los Angeles County ever since, except for a brief stint of mine circa 2004 when I decided to go on a hiatus. I quit my job and moved cross-country to temporarily live in Manhattan, N.Y. with my then boyfriend before returning to Cali to begin graduate school. I got my Master’s degree from USC, but have a B.A. from UCLA, and I’m a proud Bruin through and through.
Before I had my son, Ry, I traveled quite a bit, both domestically and abroad and acquired many a fond memories on the road, the majority of which were done solo. The list of fun adventures is appreciatively endless and without a doubt I inherited the wanderlust/adventure gene from my parents. Thankfully, it’s looking as though Ry is following suit. Speaking of Ry, the integral half of Sugarfoot and Ry, he’ll be three this year and attends daycare. When not exploring with his momma and during his spare time, he enjoys playing with his choo choo trains, race cars, heavy equipment machinery toys, and dinosaurs. He also loves watching the Russian cartoon, Masha and the Bear and is obsessed with the Family Finger song. Ry is basically your typical male toddler currently mastering the Terrific Two’s.
For a little bit of trivia about me, here’s an interesting bit. In one of my English courses in college I was heavily criticized by a T.A. for having “poor writing” skills. Flash forward to 2011. I was in New Orleans and was visiting the Voodoo Museum. Managing the small museum at that time was a gentleman by the name of John Martin. Mr. Martin was a voodoo priest and performed psychic and spiritual counseling. He had a very mystical quality about him. I didn’t say much to him except a cordial hello, but he looked at me and out of nowhere says, “you should pursue writing”. I thought to myself, “Huh? That’s pretty random and odd.” I never did ask him what he meant so for the longest time I’ve pondered his words and remained curious as to its meaning. Was I destined to become a best-selling author? Or did the cosmos intend for me to be some journalistic luminary? Lol. Or was Mr. Martin simply steering me into the direction of the blogosphere? Well, I guess I’ll never find out from him as he sadly passed away in November 2015. One thing’s for sure, follow our journey on Sugarfoot and Ry and we’ll find out together, eh? 🙂
RIP, Mr. John Martin. Thank you for influencing mine and Ry’s futures.
How did you come to learn about the TWO MONKEYS TRAVEL?
I discovered Two Monkeys Travel on social media. I think it was actually through a Rappler article they were featured in that posted on Facebook. Ever since then I’ve been a loyal follower. Kach’s positive vibes mantra combined with her and Jon’s modesty, humbleness, and approachability are especially endearing. The fact that they’re a young, cute mixed couple who left their corporate jobs in pursuit of a sustainable travel lifestyle adds to their global appeal. I’m almost twenty years Kach’s senior, and she’s been an inspiration to me. Thank you, Two Monkeys, and congratulations on your engagement! I look forward to reading your family travel adventures blog in the not-so distant future. Hey, we should collab when you do! 🙂
How long have you been blogging? Tell us about your blog.
I haven’t been blogging long at all. I started Sugarfoot and Ry Famventures in October 2015, but kept it in private mode until “officially” launching it in December 2015. So it’s still very much in its infancy stage, and it’s pretty obvious just by its appearance. I have so many improvements I’d like to make to the site, but I’m just doing it little by little. It’s gonna take me a while.
Sugarfoot and Ry Famventures chronicles the “famventures” or family adventures of myself, Theresa (aka, Sugarfoot), a single momma to my tot, Ry. Through our blog, we hope to provide readers with informative content and entertaining tales about family-friendly sites and unique fun spots in the Southern California region, as well as elsewhere in and out of the lovely golden state of California. I also provide consumer reviews of services and products we’ve utilized. Occasionally, I’ll add in some musings and gab about random stuff.
Ultimately, it’s my wish that our blog will inspire parents to get out of the house and engage in the myriad of activities available to kids young and old. My motto is, “Whether you’re a single parent (such as myself) or belong to a nuclear household, don’t let the trappings of everyday life limit the fun times you can achieve with your kids. You only live once and your kiddos only have one childhood so make the most of it!” From playgrounds to museums to airplane flights and train rides, there’s a plethora of experiences to expose your offspring to, as well as enjoy with them. So why not start now!?
What is/are your most favorite blog subject(s)?
My favorite blog subject is actually solo travel and cultural exploration, but because I have a little boy, and I travel and do everything with him, I can’t really write about solo travel. So instead, I focus on family-oriented activities and kid-friendly travel destinations. And oh yeah, I also love food! In the future when I travel with Ry internationally then I’ll also incorporate the cultural aspect.
How do you get interesting blog topics?
At this point, it’s just whatever comes to mind. And to be honest, I already have so much material and content in my family travel archives I should be writing about, but just don’t have the luxury of time to do it. Being a single mom juggling an active tot, a full-time job, and now a blog is really time-consuming and energy-expending. I still have to try to find a way to manage and balance everything without compromising my sleep, health, sanity, and precious family time. Maybe that should be my New Year’s resolution – staying supermom under not so super circumstances. So at the moment I’m just publishing one article at a time although I usually have multiple articles simultaneously in the works. I’m a certifiable multi-tasker!
We all have that “AHA FUCK” moment when we travel or while we’re on adventure out there. What’s yours?
Ok, I gotta keep this PG 13, so I’ll talk about my “aha, crap!” moments instead, both of which come from my days as a solo traveler and coincidentally center on my return visit to Egypt as an adult. Grateful that I haven’t had any of these types of “moments” with Ry yet.
A young Portuguese couple and I hired a desert guide to transport us from the village oasis of Siwa to Luxor. On the cross-country journey we got caught in a khamsin (desert sandstorm). Thankfully our Berber guide had connections in the area and used his satellite phone to call in a favor to a friend who graciously allowed us to stay in his mud-brick hut for two nights while we weathered the storm. I swear, I couldn’t go to the bathroom for two days straight. I mean, I could’ve, but just felt too uncomfortable and scared. The latrine in the hut was riddled with all sorts of creepy crawlies, including eight-legged furry creatures. Just thinking about it even now gives me shivers.
The second “aha, crap!” moment came a month after my return to the U.S. from Egypt. The Arab Spring was already in full swing in Tunisia, but just began in Egypt. And anyone who followed international news knows what happened on the streets of Cairo. Anyway, during that trip, I was staying in downtown Cairo just a few blocks from Tahrir Square, the epicenter of the Egyptian revolution. I can’t even imagine what I would’ve done if, I, a foreign female traveler with an American passport got stranded amidst a Mid-East uprising. Thank God I was safely home by then.
As a blog writer, what are your travel goals?
My travel goals with my toddler are the same as what my travel goals were as a solo traveler. I’ve maintained my very long “bucket list” and now the cool part is that I have a little buddy to share it with. Still to tick off the list are Cuba, Vietnam, Russia, Tunisia, Brazil, Argentina, South Africa, etc. Right now we’re just doing domestic travels until I feel that Ry is ready for international jet-setting. To be perfectly honest, I’m mortified to take him on a long haul flight. I think I’ll be more comfortable after he passes the Terrific Two’s stage.
I don’t plan to ever stop traveling. I will continue to travel for as long as God wills it. As for Ry, it’s still too soon to tell. However, if his lineage is any indication, he’ll be a traveler / adventurer for life.
What’s the best thing about being a travel writer?
I think the best thing about being a travel writer is sharing one’s experiences with others; being a source of inspiration to others. I love it when someone sees a picture of where I’ve traveled to or where Ry and I have been and asks questions about it. That tells me that I’ve sparked an interest in them. I think that’s awesome. But what’s even cooler is being informed that a picture I took was their catalyst for visiting that particular destination for themselves. I know that there’s also material gains or perks to be had from travel writing, but since I’m still so new at this gig, I have yet to experience that aspect of blogging for myself.
If you are to share three things you’ve learned in your travels, what would they be and why?
- Trust your instincts. Who’s a better judge of a person or a situation than yourself? If your gut is telling you something, follow it. Heed its warning. Better safe than sorry.
- Know your limits, but more importantly, know your child’s limitations. It’s great that you’re able to walk from your hotel to Main Street in the snow, which is only half a mile away, but if your kiddo refuses to do it or can’t do it, why bother or take the chance? You two will just end up being miserable. And seriously, how can you enjoy a vacation with a cranky kid?
- Have money on you at all times when traveling internationally. A few in your wallet and some concealed in your bra or socks. Don’t depend on that debit or credit card to see you through even if you did forewarn the card companies that you’re traveling overseas. Credit cards and debit cards and ATM’s aren’t always reliable. Have bills on you always.
What is your message to our readers?
If you have an interest in something, don’t be afraid to pursue it. Your interest today might very well become your passion tomorrow. I understand that there could be financial constraints and/or other life limitations that might hinder your ability to achieve your goals, but I think that if you really want it bad enough then you’ll do everything in your power to make it happen. I, by no means am financially well off, but I’ve worked my butt off to get to where I am today. I’ve never had any silver spoons handed to me. In fact I’m still making payments on my student loans. But for the past ten years I’ve maintained a professional career with a decent paying job that has afforded me the opportunity to travel and experience the joys of life with my son. I love to travel and experience new things, and I want the same for Ry. I don’t let being a single parent with a single income stop me from pursuing what I enjoy. Hopefully you won’t allow the trappings of everyday life stop you either.
*All Photo Credit goes to Theresa of Sugarfoot and Ry