Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Raising E to be Strong

We waited to find out if E was a boy or girl until she was born. The most important thing to us was to have a health baby, but I was pretty excited that E was a girl. I am a girl, so I felt I had a better understanding of girls (probably not true, but I blame the hormones). What I didn't realize at that moment was the additional challenge that raising a girl in today's world means.

I am happy that she lives in an era where there are a lot more opportunities than she would have had in the past, but it doesn't mean that there still isn't work to do. Sexism still exists and many workplace policies still make it difficult to have both a career and a family. The difficult part is that it is now more subtle than it has been in the past.

A quick glance at recent news includes US Women's National Soccer Team suing for pay equal to the men's team. (The worst part of this one was that the U.S. soccer federation was disappointed with the action (source).) ESPN W just put together a PSA with men reading Tweets directed at female sports writers. It is sad that it is 2016 and we still have issues like these.

Throughout my childhood and young adult years, my parents owned a hardware store and lock shop. I spent many years working there and encountered my share of people, both male and female, that didn't think I knew what I was talking about because I didn't have boy parts. (My mom had it way worse.)
I know that as E grows up, there will hard conversations and situations I am not looking forward to. Things are moving in the right direction, but we still have a long way to go.

For the time being, I am trying to surround her with good role models and remind her that she is amazing and strong. I also want to instill that women need to support other women. 

Supporting other women at the first home
Orlando Pride Soccer Game
Right now E has a fearlessness and determination that I love (even when they give me a heart attack.) I hope she can hold on to some of that as she grows up, because "well-behaved women seldom make history" -- Laurel Thatcher Ulrich.
Continue to do things your own way

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Date Night at the Beard in Baldwin Food & Wine Festival

As part of my birthday present, my husband arranged for a date night. I was super excited to have a meal with adult conversion and no crayons, tears or anyone crawling under the table. (Yeah...going out to dinner is fun right now.)

We were trying to decide where to go when we stumbled upon the Beard in Baldwin Food and Wine Festival. It was on the day we had a babysitter for E and many of the restaurants we wanted to try were going to be there (Double win). Tickets were purchased pretty much immediately.

The festival started at 7 p.m., so of course, like parents out without a toddler, we got there about 6:15. We checked in and got our wristbands. Then we headed down to sit by the water and chat for a bit. The weather was beautiful and it was nice to have an uninterrupted conversation. (Of course every toddler that walked by made me go awww. I don't understand how you can miss some one and desperately need a break from them at the same time.)

Getting there early gave us plenty of time for photos

At 7 the eating and drinking began. There was so much yummy food and some very nice adult beverages. The funny thing is that while it was a food and wine festival, I didn't have much wine. I like wine, but when there is good beer and bourbon around, it definitely takes third place.

A tasty Tripple from Copperhead Brewery
There were too may good things to describe all of them, but some of my favorites were the foie gras corn dog (Highball & Harvest), the cornbread biscut slider (Se7en Bites), pulled duck confit sliders (F & D Kitchen and Bar) and the blueberry lavender cobbler (P is for Pie.)

There is a reason I am not really a food blogger.
(I always forget to take pictures of the food before I start eating.)

This is the plate from Se7en Bites and it was amazing
My favorite drink went to the honey bourbon rosemary lemonade (also Highball & Harvest). It was amazing.

Highball & Harvest was one of my favorites

We also hung out and enjoyed the live music and some time sitting by the water and enjoying the view. Yay for adult conversation.

The festival was a lot of fun. It was well organized and even though it got busy, you never really had to wait to get food or drinks.

Sadly parenting on Sunday was not a whole lot of fun because I was super tired, but it was worth it. The best part was E took a nap with us on Sunday afternoon. Since naps are typically a fight, this was a huge win. 

Now it is back to our regularly schedule life of toddler friendly dining options. 

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Pool or No Pool....That is the Question

When we were house hunting, only about 3 years ago, we wanted nothing to do with a house that had a pool. The work, the maintenance, the upkeep...we wanted nothing to do with any of it. Then I gave birth to a child who is part fish.

E loves the water

E loves swimming. We started with Mommy and me lessons when she was just under a year and then did infant self rescue lessons last summer. That was an adventure, but it taught E to love the water. (I wrote about our awesome experience and instructor on the blog.

Our swim instructor is awesome.

We have a community pool in our neighborhood, so it is a relatively short walk to be able to swim. Last summer we were there for a couple hours every weekend. But the community pool closes at sunset and is often busy, especially during weekend afternoons. It is also a bit of a production to gather up all the swimming things and get out of the house.

All of a sudden, the idea of walking out the back door to our very own pool has become much more appealing. We looked at moving to a house with a pool, but we are picky (part of why we built instead of buying a preexisting home), and the older the pool the more likely it has problems. (The idea of moving also makes me want to poke my eyeballs out. I don't think I want to move ever again.)

We have an idea of what we would like our pool to look like and are in the process of talking with builders. Building a pool is not cheap, so we want to make sure it is the right decision. I go back and forth between super excited and this is a great idea and no way, not going to happen.

Is having a backyard pool worth the work? Did you build your pool? Any tips or builders we should check out?

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Sometimes Life Gets a Little Messy

A busy life means that it is not uncommon for me to eat and drink (hello coffee) in the car. Couple that with a toddler that loves her snacks (thank you goldfish and cheerios) as well as potty training and messes are going to happen. Thankfully those designing our cars understand and anticipate these "Oops" moments.

My friends at Ford gave me the chance to interview Linda Schmalz, a body interior and appearance materials engineer, to find out a little more about how the fabrics and materials are tested before making it into vehicles like the Edge I test drove last fall. It is amazing how much goes into selecting the interiors, and here is what Linda told me about the process.

Those little feet can make a mess

Fabrics and leathers are tested for both staining and clean-ability. They know that we may not be able to get to a spill right away, so they look at how hard it is to clean spills after both an hour and 24 hours. They also simulate snagging from things such as jewelry and Velcro. If the material doesn't stand up, then it doesn't make the cut.

Engineers also keep an eye on fashion trends to make sure that our clothes don't leave their mark. Dark jeans may look great on you, but stains don't look great on seats. The same goes for bling on the pockets of some pants.

They also test to see what happens when you bring the outdoors inside. Fabrics are smudged with dirt to test how well they clean. Things like sunscreen and bug spray are also tested. (Hopefully there is a sweat test, because my seats see a lot of that.)

Linda also shared some pro tips for keeping your interior looking good. First, a little cleaning goes a long way. We clean our houses on a regular basis, so why not do the same for our cars. Second, take a look at the owners manual when trying to clean a stain. You should find tips to help you clean without damaging your interior. Another fun tip is that coffee with a splash of milk or cream will stain less than black coffee. (Another excuse to add a bit of cream to my coffee, because it is sure to get spilled.)

Ford arranged for the interview, but all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

35 - How did that happen?

Today I turn 35. It is amazing how different this birthday is than my thirtieth. I wish I could say that I have a better idea of what I want to be when I grow up, I don't, but I am much more comfortable with where I am and where I am going.

I am enjoying living in Orlando with my amazing husband and fabulous daughter. (I may have grown up in WI, but am a FL girl at heart.)

We have a home that feels like home in a neighborhood I imagined living in for a long time before we bought.

Blimps practice right out my window!

I get to work with amazing people, doing things that I enjoy and feel like I might be making a little bit of a difference. I am also blessed to have a position that allows for a pretty good work/life balance.

I am not going to pretend that juggling parenting a toddler, managing a career, keeping fit(ish) and taking care of a household is a breeze. It isn't. There are many days where I am a stressed out mess, but I am blessed to have so many good things in my life. 

Happy Birthday to me!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Adventures in Parenting - Lazy Parent Potty Training

I have to admit that I was dreading potty training. Diapers were not that bad and they fit well in our life. Need to make a car trip, make check for a dry diaper and strap E in. Going on vacation, pack some diapers, a few wipes and you are on your way. I didn't have to always know the location of the nearest bathroom or stopping at a weird store to find a potty.

The potty seat has been around our house for a while and E would use it from time to time, but it was mostly a toy. (We went with the ring for the big potty because I didn't want to deal with disposal.) I knew we would need to potty train E, but I kept putting it off. 

Shortly after we got back from our cruise, E's daycare asked about potty training. It was kind of the perfect storm (in a good way). She had been asking about wearing princess underwear, she would be moving classrooms shortly and most of her friends were already wearing underwear.

I took a look at some of the 3-day methods, but in reality, we didn't have 3-days. A number of preexisting commitments, my husband starting a new job and some other things made a 3-day approach impossible. So we took the lazy parent approach.

After getting home from the Lady Track Shack 5k, we gave E a "present" of princess panties. She was super excited about this. We also set up our bathroom with her potty seat and a stool to help her get on the potty. 

Now E has her own bathroom.
We keep this one set up for her.
 Then the real fun began. Most of the first day was spent taking E to the bathroom after she started peeing and then cleaning up the mess. We went through a lot of panties and junk towels that day. (I don't think she made it to the potty once.) 

By the end of the first day, everyone was stressed. E was asking for diapers, I was exhausted and very temped to say forget it.

Shortly into day two, things began to click. She started to make it to the bathroom and we were even able to get her to poop in the potty (that was probably just luck). There were still accidents and I was a mess. (I think it was a combination of being trapped in the house and my baby growing up.)

Bourbon, because potty training.

Nap time day two was a real test. As I mentioned in my post about giving up the pacifier, E no longer naps for us, this meant putting her in the car in underwear. Luckily, she fell asleep and didn't have an accident in the car seat. Overall, we were probably about 60% for that day.

Monday rolled around and we sent a ton of clothes with her to daycare. (They were so helpful with the whole potty thing.) We also told E we would have pizza for dinner the first day she didn't have an accident at school. (She isn't big on "kid food," but she loves pizza.) Surprisingly, she went the whole day without a potty accident. (Even with scraping her face pretty bad)

I have to say that potty training has gone much better than getting rid of her pacifier. We have had a few accidents here and there, but they are getting less and less frequent. Luckily, most of them have been at home, except for that one time at Ron Jon.

Nighttime is still a challenge, partly mostly because she refuses to go potty before bed, so we are still using pull ups over night. But for right now, I'll take it. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The Day I Gave Up on My Fitbit

I wrestled with getting an activity tracker for a long time before making the decision to get one. I loved the idea of more data about what I was doing, but I also wasn't sure if it would be comfortable to wear or worth it. Lets face it, the things are not cheap and the early ones were notorious for bad data.

Since activity trackers were all over the 2015 holiday sales, I figured it was time to bite the bullet and get one. After reading way too many reviews and changing my mind three times I decided the Fitbit HR was the tracker I wanted. (A bonus was that I was able to pay for a good portion of the device using Kohls cash from buying other Christmas presents.)

I was excited to be able to quantify what I was doing on a daily basis. The data nerd in me was excited about the all the possibilities. I really thought it would be worth wearing the clunky band. (Yeah, the thing is big and doesn't work well when carrying around a squirmy toddler. She was scraped by it more than once.) 

It was a lot of arm space, especially when worn with my Garmin.
Some of the data was interesting and I enjoyed the heart rate tracking, but really it didn't tell me anything I didn't know. I am active ridiculously active. The first few days I wore it I was amazed at how quickly I hit the 10,000 step goal. At this point in my life, sleep tracking is a joke. I try to sleep, but with a toddler that likes to get up early, there is only so much I can to.

Then some quirky things started happening. I would hit my goal when I was sitting on the floor with E (moving, but not really walking) or I would see a couple of flights of stairs pop up on my stats when I couldn't remember doing any stairs that day. All of these items made me start to question the accuracy of the information. 

The real kicker was when I hit 40 flights of stairs on a day I was working from my single story home. There was no way I was anywhere close to that with what I did that day. Maybe a flight's worth based on getting in and out of the car and stretching on a curb after a run.

With all of these items, I just can't trust the data from the device. If I can't trust the data, then it really doesn't make sense to wear the thing. As I like to tell my students, bad data doesn't lead to good decisions. 

I have to say I am excited to see where wearables go in the future, because the concept is great, but the accuracy has to be better. At least I didn't spend real money on the thing. Has anyone had better luck with other trackers?