Exploring the world and scratching off as we go

Monday, October 5, 2015

This post is sponsored by Uncommon Goods.

It's wedding anniversary month over here and I've been feeling really nostalgic lately (more so than usual, hah) thinking about all the years and memories that Brandon and I have shared together.  It's our seventh wedding anniversary this year, but we've been together since December 1999 (shout out to the 90's!), so we're actually working on year sixteen as a pair.  That's a whole lot of life together.

I was recently contacted by Uncommon Goods to take a look at their Gifts for Men ideas(check them out here), and I was delighted to find their scratch off national and world maps.

I knew it would be a fun way to celebrate our anniversary and all the places we have visited together. You see, many, many years ago (were we still in high school?) Brandon and I created a "together bucket list" that included places all over the world we wanted to visit and also included "visit all 50 states."

Well, after sixteen years together: six of which were long distance, seven of which were married, three kids, two rented apartments together, two owned homes together, two dogs, a cat, and a handful of fish (hold the partridge in a pear tree please), we've been slowly (ever so slowly) working our way on exploring the world together.

We started with our national map and felt compelled to set rules for how we would go about scratching the states off because we're big time nerds and serious about intention.  I mean, it seems sort of like cheating to scratch off all of Texas when we've really only been to Austin.  But Brandon reasoned that if we were only going to scratch the states off by how many cities we've visited, could we even scratch off our home state of Pennsylvania?!  So our rules for scratching in USA were as followed:
  • We had to have visited together (sorry Arizona, California, Louisiana, Connecticut, and Tennessee!  Not yet!)
  • We had to have at least slept over one night for the visit to count (drive-bys and airport lay-overs don't count)
  • Even if it was in only one city in the whole state, it counts as a state visit!  We want to get to all fifty after all :)
After laying out the ground scratch rules, we set to uncovering the states below the top scratch layer all the while chatting and reminiscing about the places that we've traveled together.  

Chicago, IL 2008

Oahu, HI 2009
We are both born and raised in PA which naturally lends to scratching a fair amount of the our northeast USA map.  (although we really need to get to the north-northeast:  Maine lobster? yes please).  Also, this is a public apology to Delaware! In that whole mix of visited states and it's the only one not scratched!  I promise, we will visit soon - any readers from Delaware with some suggestions of places to visit that is little-kid friendly!?

Punxsutawney, PA 2007
When we were all finished scratching and talking, we stood back and felt both parts proud and excited for the future.  Somehow seeing it all visually gets us feeling inspired in all the places yet we can plan to go and show each other and our kids.  Northwest, we need you in our lives big time.  It's slow going with three little kids and work and commitments, but our USA scratch map, a 'work in progress' (direct link here) makes us feel excited and inspired to keep branching out farther and discovering new places with each other.

We pressed on to the world map (direct link here), and we were still talking about each of the places we've traveled together.  It was the same rules as for the national map:
  • We had to have visited together (sorry Canada, Honduras, Costa Rica, Nicaragua!  Not yet!)
  • We had to have at least slept over one night for the visit to count (drive-bys and airport lay-overs don't count. Sorry, South Korea!)
  • Even if it was in only one city in the whole country, it counts as a country visit! 

Since we also have the national map, we decided that for the integrity of the world map, USA would count even though we are still majorly working on visiting states.  It's also a good visual for our kids who are trying to figure out how we fit in the world as Americans.  So all of our USA was scratched off on our world map, but what I liked about the Uncommon Goods world scratch off map  was that the state lines were visible, and if you only choose the world map alone, you would still be able to track your USA state visits within the whole world map view!

The memories went on as we scratched off the different countries we've visited together.

Ayutthaya, Thailand 2011

Negril, Jamaica 2008
Our world map is hardly what someone would consider well-traveled, but we look at as inspiration for all the places we can explore together in the future.  Maybe with our babies as they grow older, or maybe in some distant far off time when our babies are grown and it's just the two of us again (can you imagine?!)

Documenting our travels together has been on our married to do list for the past seven years!  I am so glad that I took a look at the Uncommon Goods Gifts for Men page (check it out here yourself) to finally check this one off of our list, and just in time for our anniversary.  As we worked on our map, I kept thinking of so many of you readers that I know travel as much or more than us.  I'd love to see and be inspired by your maps!

Besides the scratch off maps, Uncommon Goods truly has unique and inspiring gifts that I've been writing down to remember for upcoming birthdays and the holiday season.  and they are not only a great place to look for gifts, but also they're a company that you can feel good about supporting.  A privately-owned retailer based out of Brooklyn, NY that feature hand-crafted products that are created with the environment, people, and animals in mind.  Most of their products are created here in the USA and about a third incorporate recycled or upcycled materials.  They are also a B Corp business meaning that they meet the rigorous standards meant to solve social and environmental issues including wage levels, giving back to the community, and environmental impacts.  You can check out their Gift Ideas for Men page here and their Gifts Ideas for Women page here and their Personalized Gifts page here.

As for us and our travels plans for the near future?  We are keeping it stateside in the next few years because of financial limitations and also #bigfamilylittlekidsprobs But we're thinking of doing another family road trip adventure soon and going Northeast (I wasn't kidding Maine Lobster) to spread our state wings a little more.  I also have a inexplicable jonesing for New York/Adirondack exploring.  We've also set a goal to visit DisneyWorld in the next two years (!) and Alaska in 2019 (!!!)

Here's to continuing to explore and discover with my favorite guy in the whole world.
Where you go I will follow.
Where you are, I am home.


  1. Can't wait to take my two boys to Disney! Patiently waiting until Parker is 48" so he can ride all the rides. Can I say stay little for a little longer Parker but please grow taller fast so we can go see Mickey Mouse? Also love that you get to travel with your best friend! Husbands are the best co-travelers (I drag Adam everywhere and he ends up loving it)

    1. I agree - most times it is a 'drag' until we get there and then he loves it (hah, husbands). Yay for Disney, such a good idea to wait for the height! Gem was so disappointed this summer that she was only about an inch shy of riding the big rides. I'm going to keep that in mind for our plans!

  2. I love this so much! Seeing all 50 states is on my life list and our "rules" are much the same: we have to be there as a couple (bonus points for having the entire family) and have to experience something (driving through doesn't count). That map is awesome.

    1. oooh, I like the idea of 'experience something' for it to count! I may be stealing that ;)

  3. Such a fun gift! And a great way to reminisce. Have you been to Alaska?

    1. not yet! but I'm in the works of planning a trip in 2019 - seems far away, but it will give the kids time to grow a little bit (and time for us to save for it!) we're meeting up no matter what!