Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Back to School (or Not) with Tijuana Flats

I wish I could say that things have been crazy because of back to school, but that is not really the case in our house. E goes to "school" all year and moving a room is not a major change. I blame being extra busy at work, half marathon training, a flood in house and fall, just fall in general, for feeling extra busy lately.

A couple of weeks ago, just before the flood, I had the opportunity to have dinner with some other bloggers at Tijuana Flats. They offered some of there favorites as well as some new items. When life gets busy, Tijuana Flats is often a go to in our household, but I always get the same thing. This gave me the opportunity to step out of my comfort zone.

We started the night with tortilla chips with salsa, queso and guacamole. Next up were chicken and beef flautas. Then we sampled the Bangin' Chicken Burrito and a Blackened Chicken taco. The flautas were my favorite followed closely by the taco. We wrapped the night with cookie dough flautas. These were amazing. Incredibly rich, but really really yummy.

Tonight was one of those nights when life conspired against me making dinner and where did we go Tijuana Flats. As always the food was great, I was with some of my favorite people and I tried something new. Now if I could get E to stop dipping her fingers in the sour cream, dinner would have been perfect.

Disclosure: I did receive complementary food at the blogger every, but all options are my own.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

How to Fly With a Baby and Not Lose Your Mind

To say that E has been on her share of plane flights would be an understatement. From the time she was about 9 months old until 2, she took a total of 9 round trip flights. I would say we got our money out of the free lap child thing. (I know some people are not comfortable with lap children, but we were.) I learned a lot about flying with a little one during that time. Here are some of my tips.

What can mom & dad buy me from SkyMall?

My first piece of advice would be to fly Southwest if at all possible. No, this is not a sponsored post (I wish), but they have several policies that make it much easier to fly with them than another carrier.

Next up, be prepared when packing. Checklists are your friend. I typically started my list about a week out from travel. It is amazing how many things you need when traveling with a little one and a list makes it hard to forget. Then again, forgetting is not always the end of the world. We were able to fully wean my daughter off her last before bed bottle (at 16 months) after it was forgotten.

While you will be bringing a lot of stuff with you, check as much of it as possible. (One reason why flying Southwest is helpful). Anything that is not super fragile (e.g. computer, camera) and you won't need on the flight, put in the suitcase. 

Be realistic about what you need. Don't pack for the absolute worst case in-flight scenario. For example, I would typically have about 15 diapers and 2 sets of baby clothes in my carry on for a 3-hour non-stop flight. Yes, we could have gone through more, but after weighing the probabilities, I felt comfortable with this. Enough, but not too much to carry.

Wear the baby. This is especially helpful when you are traveling by yourself with the baby. The idea of folding and unfolding a stroller while holding a child that doesn't really walk gave me major anxiety. I also wasn't big on my child rolling around on the floor at airport security. If you are wearing the baby, they send you through the X-ray machine, test your hands and send you on your merry way. I wore E when traveling until she was almost 20 months old.

Sit in the back of the plane. Again, this is where flying Southwest can work in your favor. Unless the plane is packed, which happens, people are lazy and don't want to go to the back of the plane. It increases the likelihood of having an extra seat in your row and giving you some extra space to move around.

Bring entertainment....and snacks. We always had a variety of books, toys, crayons and other things to keep E busy on the plane. That said, the only thing that was a sure bet was snacks. Lots and lots of snacks. I also suggest water for an in flight beverage because it doesn't stain and isn't sticky when it inevitably gets spilled. I also skipped it in favor of my own water bottle on several occasions.

Rent what you can at your destination. The less you have to get to and from the airport the better. We were lucky enough to have family where we were going for most of our trips so we didn't have to pack much. We flew with a car seat and pack-and-play once and that was a huge mistake. It made the travel experience so much harder. I will be renting or buying these items at my destination from now on.

I know these tips may not work for everyone, but hopefully, you can learn from my experience (and mistakes).

Just remember to take a deep breath and enjoy the journey! 

Thursday, July 30, 2015


I am not sure where the time went, but yesterday Baby E turned two. I should probably stop calling her Baby E, but it is hard to imagine that my baby is turning into a little girl. The days don't always seem short, but the months go by in a flash.

Where did the time go?
It has been amazing to see my baby turn into a loving, smart, caring, independent, determined, warm little girl. Year two didn't have the physical changes of year one, but the cognitive changes have been mind blowing.

Ellie has turned into a talking and singing machine. It makes my heart smile listening to her singing songs in the back of the car. She is the queen of the preschool song mashup as she bounces from one song to another. She also tells stories and loves to "read." Looking at and taking pictures of herself on my phone are other favorite activities. (This trait may haunt me in her teenage years.)

"Ellie try" is one of her favorite phrases. It doesn't matter what the task, she wants to try and do it herself. This has also taught me some patience. I love her determination, but sometimes it is hard not to take over after the 10th time she has tried unsuccessfully to buckle her car seat. She will eventually ask for help, but it has to be on her terms.

She loves coloring, bubbles, swimming and just about anything outside. Thanks to swimming lessons, she has taken to the water like a little fish. We even celebrated her second birthday with a day at the beach.

It is amazing to watch her develop friendships with the other kids at daycare. There are certain kids that really seem to stick together. She even said her favorite thing about her birthday party was having one of her little friends at the party.

As she has gotten closer to two, she has also started to be afraid of a few things. She doesn't like animals if they get to close. Now that it is summer in central Florida, our daily thunderstorms are not her favorite. The rain she is fine with, but the thunder is another story.

I feel so lucky to have such an amazing child as my daughter. She keeps us on our toes, but in the best way possible.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Race Recap - Suck it Up Buttercup 5k

Last Sunday, I sucked it up and did the Suck it Up Buttercup 5k. I ran this race last year and it was a lot of fun...that is if you think fun is running a bunch of hills in the FL summer heat. I do, but my definition of fun is different that most peoples.

Sunday morning I woke up at 5 a.m. threw on my running clothes and headed out the door. I can't say that I was super excited to get up and get going. It had been a tiring weekend and I was kicking myself for signing up. I have been super slow lately and the 5k distance is not my favorite. I could have slept another hour and still gotten a run in before anyone else was awake.

I got to the park by about 6 a.m., but it took almost 20 minutes to get parked. This meant that I didn't have long to hit the restroom and get to the starting line. Luckily the lines were not too long and a friend of mine had picked up my race packet the day before.

We lined up, the National Anthem was sung, and we were off. The start area was not well marked. This meant that faster people were caught up behind those of us who are slow, and there was a lot of weaving in and out. In addition to people being out of order, the course was narrow and more of a trial than a road for the first quarter mile or so.

Over the first half-mile there was a pretty steep hill, but then the course leveled out or was down hill. I started the race with a 2 min run/30 sec walk interval. I felt good through the majority of the first mile. I looked at my watch and I was on target for a 12:30 pace. That was far faster than I had been running, but I felt good, so kept at it. I was able to hold that pace for the second mile as well. 

Approaching the third mile, the pace started to catch up with me. I was hot and tired and very thankful that the majority of the last mile was under a canopy of shade. I had a lot of conversations with myself during that mile.

Coming out of the prettiest part of the course.
 It wasn't long and I hit the marker for mile 3. Only a little further to go. I picked up the pace a bit and ended up with a finish of 39:21 which is a pace of about 12:40 per mile. I am still far from my PR, but I am getting there. It is 2 minutes faster than last year.

I need to work on my finish strong face!
 I have to say that I was not thrilled with this year's race or this year's course. One of the things that made this race special was the hills. Most of FL is flat, so the hills were a special treat (in a stick and twisted way), but they were missing this year. The course also had a number of narrow areas. This meant that there were times you were forced off the pavement to get around people.

I know that the race organizers had to change the location because of construction at the old site, but I hope they don't use this course again. The things that made it special were not there this year. It was not a bad race, but something was missing.

It may not have been as good as last year, but at the end of the day I was happy I got up when my alarm went off at 5 a.m.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Adventures in Parenting - Swimming Lessons

Summer is here, okay...maybe it has been here for a few months...this is Florida I am talking about. In our family, the warm weather means one thing—lots of time at the pool. 

My husband and I were both swimmers growing up, so I think E inherited our love of water. Last year we did mommy and me swimming lessons. They were fun, but did very little to make her any safer in the water. 

Fun, but not much safety
This year we went all in and enrolled E in survival swimming lessons at the beginning of April. She was about 20 months old when she started. I was a little nervous about the lessons because they are intense. E swam 10-minutes a day, 5 days a week for about 5 weeks (we had some rain and vacation days in the mix, so it was longer in calendar weeks). Managing the schedule with work and all the other demands on my time was tough, but so worth it.

The first week was the hardest. There were a lot of tears from E and a few from me. Deep down I knew it was the right thing to do, but it is hard to see your child, who previously loved the water, start crying as you pulled up to swimming lessons.

I don't know if I like this floating thing
We turned a corner during the second week. There were some things she didn't like to do, but she (and we) were enjoying the lessons more. The lollipop at the end of the lesson didn't hurt either. 

As we moved through the rest of the lessons, it was amazing to see her progress. She started to understand that it was important to roll and float if she fell in the water. She also started asking to go swimming and was enjoying the water again.


Wrapping up by showing I can swim in clothes
After official lessons were over, we decided to stay on for maintenance lessons a couple times a week. E can now swim then float and then roll back over and swim again. She can jump in, come up to the surface and roll on her back. It is amazing how many comments we get when we are swimming at our neighborhood pool. I think that E may be part fish.

My little fish
I looked at a number of options in our area and decided that Cathy Perez at Swimspot Swim School would be the best option for us. She is amazing and has been wonderful working with our very stubborn child. Nothing takes the place of watching a child, but knowing she can help herself in the water gives me a little more piece of mind.

Monday, July 6, 2015

June 20 in 30 Challenge Recap

Boom. June is over in what seemed like a blink of an eye and I am happy to say that I rocked my June challenge. 

Of the 23 workouts I had scheduled at the beginning of the month, I hit 21 of them. Additionally, I missed one so that I could cut the lawn and another so that we could work on a project installing hanging rails in our garage. While I didn't officially count it as a workout, drilling into concrete block is no joke.

Here is what June looked like.

It was a total of 36 miles running, 5 bike workouts, 3 yoga classes and 1 Piyo workout. Last week we were away on vacation and I stayed active (how can you not be active when chasing after an almost 2 year old), but didn't do any official workouts. It was a much needed mental and physical break before starting half marathon training in a couple weeks.

How did your June stack up?

Friday, June 19, 2015

Be Inspiring

Recently, a couple of people have told me that I inspire them. The first time someone told me this, it really blew my mind (I am terrible at taking complements), and most days I feel like I am going to drop one of the many balls I am juggling. Then I really thought about what they were saying.

My type A personality means that I tend to set a really high bar for myself. In my pre-baby days, reaching that bar wasn't nearly as hard. My commitments and responsibilities were far fewer, but since E has been born it doesn't feel like I have been meeting my goals that often. Something, often a sick child, a really terrible night or work commitment, always seems to get in the way. Instead of getting 5 to 6 workouts in a week, it would be 2 or 3. (This is part of what inspired my 20 in 30 Challenge.)

That said, no matter how crazy life got, I always tried to get out and be active. There was always another day or another week to get something in. Squeezing in lunch workouts...did it. Yoga after E was asleep...did it. Fitness is something I feel is important and something that I value. It keeps me sane, or at least sane-ish, but I also want to set a good example for E.

The more I think about it, that is what could really be inspiring. Living your values. As I think about the things that I want to do in the long run, I need to remember that someday, there will be more time to run, and bike, and workout whenever I want. However, there will be fewer giggles about nothing, fewer snuggles, and fewer "hot dog dance" parties. So I am okay with being a little slower and a little less fit for now.

For right now, I am going to continue to live my values, and if I can inspire some people along the way, that is cool. Hopefully, I can inspire E to live her values too.