Thursday, December 31, 2015

Wishing you a Happy New Year!

The weeks leading up to Christmas were hectic, but filled with holiday fun. Orlando is a pretty spectacular place to live during the holidays. There is so much to do and you don't have to freeze your butt off while doing it. 

Epcot for Candle Light

I am going to miss these lights.

Brrrr....ICE at Gaylord Palms
Santa was good to E

A visit with family in South FL.
What is more Christmassy than the beach?
I hope you had a great holiday season as well. I am taking a bit of a break before getting back to normal in January. Wishing everyone a very happy New Year!

(And the chances of me making it to see midnight are slim to none.)

Thursday, December 17, 2015

My Weekend Living In an Edge

The holidays are always crazy, so when I was invited by Ford to join with a few other bloggers and  take a little me time right before Thanksgiving, I was super excited. We we were treated to manis, pedis and a blowout. It was nice to take a little time to myself before the holiday crazy. We also got a lesson in etiquette. (Something I can always use some help with.)

The best thing about it was that at the end of the day, I received the opportunity to drive a 2015 Ford Edge for the holiday weekend. It is always fun to drive a different car once and a while.  We celebrated the holiday weekend with a lot of fun in the car. We took it to work, Thanksgiving, the Orlando Auto Show and with my niece to the Crayola Experience.

On our way to Thanksgiving

Room for the car seat

Lots of room for pie too.

A beautiful day for the auto show.

E seems to enjoy cars already.
Some Crayola fun for my niece's birthday.

Back to reality. At least I have a pretty awesome gig.

The nice thing about having a car for a few days is that it allows you to see if it fits your life. It also highlights the pros and cons of the vehicle. Here are my thoughts on the Edge.


There were lots of things I liked about the car. I really like the way the vehicle is styled and appointed. It drove well and was really comfortable. For lack of a better description, it felt like a grown up car (in the best way possible). The car was filled with lots of fun technology...lane keeping, blind spot information, zoned climate control, heated and air conditioned seats. 

Two super fun features were the windshield wipers and high beams that turned on automatically. It was like the car was thinking for me. (I may get excited easily, but the first time the high beams went on automatically, it blew my mind.)

E's favorite feature (and probably mine too) was the roof. The car had a panoramic roof. She wouldn't let us close the shade, even when it was super sunny. This did make head room a little tight for my 6'3" husband.

Enjoying her favorite part


The car's infotainment system was not the easiest to understand. There is so much stuff crammed into it, that I often hit the wrong button or couldn't find what I was looking for. (This may be a user issue because I sometime struggle in my own car, but I managed to get the car to not be able to find the backup camera.) It is the blessing and the curse of so much technology in cars. 


There were also some things that seemed to be more worn than they should have been on a new vehicle. The headliner in the backseat was pulling away around the back door and a few other things. This may because this particular vehicle had a harder life with multiple people using it.
  The other thing that I didn't like was there were lights in the trunk that didn't turn off with the rest of the interior lights. This would be a feature for many people and I can see where it would be handy, but when you have a toddler sleeping in a rear facing car seat that you have to extract from the car, it is not optimal.

Overall, I liked the vehicle and think it could be a great option in a few years. Right now we are in full on Mommy-mobile mode and need the extra space of a slightly bigger vehicle. Then again, maybe I can upgrade to something even more fun once E is older.

So pretty in blue. (I love this update to the Mustang too)

(A big thanks to Ford for the relaxation event and the opportunity to drive the Edge. All comments and opinions are my own.)

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Celebrating St. Nicholas Day

One of the best things about having a child is deciding which traditions you want to start or keep and ditching the ones that are no longer your thing. St. Nicholas Day is one of the traditions we decided to keep with E.

I grew up celebrating St. Nicholas Day, which is not a surprise since it stems from German traditions and was particularly popular in the Milwaukee, WI area. My Dad was German and the town were I grew up was about 45min South of Milwaukee. (Thanks Dad for this wonderfully fun tradition.) 

St. Nicholas Day is December 6, and historically children place their shoes or stockings out the evening before so that St. Nick can come overnight and leave gifts in the shoes. In the midwestern tradition, good children receive small toys or candy while bad children receive coal. St. Nicholas is seen as separate from Santa, but in communication with him.

We have celebrated St. Nicholas the past couple of years, but this year I had time to really think about how to balance the fun of the tradition and trying to not make myself crazy. We took some of the old with some new and I think we have found a good balance. The plan is to give E Christmas jammies, a movie or book and have St. Nicholas drop off the Santa key.

Tiny shoes. Tiny person.

Bad mom moment. This is the only photo I have from last year.
This year was a lot of fun because E is really starting to get it and understand Christmas. She was super excited to put her shoes out and even more excited when she found a new movie waiting (along with a couple of other things) for her the next morning.
She was so excited
In addition to creating lasting memories, I am hoping that creating our own family traditions will keep E from wanting the (marketing created) current trendy Christmas tradition (AKA Elf on the Shelf.)  Keeping my fingers crossed on that one.

What are some of the unique holiday traditions your family does?


Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Lawn Lessons

This is a sponsored post written by me for SheSpeaks and TrueGreen. You can read my full disclosure policy here.

There is a learning curve when you purchase a house. I have documented some of our lessons in my House to Home series. Living in Florida, it seems like maintaining the lawn is a constant challenge. We spend a lot of time outside, so keeping the lawn in top shape for playing is important.

We have the mowing, edging and trimming down, but probably get a less than passing grade on the rest of it. After 2 years of trying to manage the fertilization and weed control ourselves, we brought in TruGreen for help. In just a couple of months, they have started to fix the weeds and brown spots that were a little out of control.

Water and irrigation are another area where there is a lot to learn. Parts of our lawn are always wet and others are dry. This coupled with the crazy weather makes lawn watering a bigger job than I could have ever imagined. It seems like the perfect balance is an unreachable goal. I really want to get it right because that is good for both the environment and our pocketbook benefit.  Now TruGreen can help us with that too.

  TruGreen is adding Sprinkler Repair and Maintenance services to their portfolio of services. They can help with repairing and adjusting sprinkler heads, fixing leaks, system testing, rain sensor testing and other irrigation services. TruGreen will also help with system updates and renovations. Now we don't have anymore excuses for not installing the second water meter we have been talking about for a while.

Right now TruGreen Sprinkler Repair and Maintenance is available in select cities in Florida, Missouri, Nebraska, Arkansas and Tennessee. They will be growing to more than a dozen markets in 2016. 

More information about TruGreen and their Sprinkler Repair and Maintenance can be found at their website. Remember a healthy lawn is part of the foundation for living more of life outside.

Thursday, November 26, 2015


In today's fast paced world, it is easy to get caught up in the stress of everyday life or the pressure of the holidays and forget how much we really have. Taking time to be thankful for the little (and the big) things offers perspective. So today I pause and take a few minutes to think about the things I am thankful for.

I am thankful I have a healthy and happy child who makes me smile and laugh on a daily basis. 

I am thankful I have food in the table and a roof over my head.

I am thankful my family members are healthy and that those we have lost are at peace in heaven.

I am thankful for a career and position that allows for balancing of family and professional opportunities.

I am thankful for my health and that I am able to run and be active.

I am thankful I have the freedom to share my thoughts and words.

I am thankful for year round sunshine and warm weather.

I am thankful for the opportunities I am offered.

I am thankful for all the people I have in my life. 

Last spring I attended a personal development session focused on gratitude and the benefits of regularly practicing gratitude. Since then I have worked to focus on the things I am grateful for on a daily basis. Shifting my focus to this positive emotion has helped to give perspective in a often crazy world. Remember that tomorrows are not guaranteed and it is important to realize all you have today.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Great Gifts for Runners

Tis the season for giving. Christmas is my favorite holiday and finding and giving the perfect gift is my favorite part. In any given year I normally have one or two gifts that are real hits, and the rest are enjoyable, but not super exciting. This year I wanted to help out those looking for gifts with some of my favorite gifts for runners. (A few of these may be on my wish list this year too.)


Regular or compression, I can always use another pair of running socks and they seem to be one of those things I never get around to purchasing for myself. Balega are my favorites for running and I love these compression ones for long runs and recovery. In our house Santa brings socks and these would be a great stocking stuffer.


Running does a number on my feet and few things feel better than a pedicure after several months of training. I know I can paint my toes myself, but sometimes it feels good to be pampered.

Nice Yoga Mat 

I didn't realize how much of a difference your mat makes until I got a nice Lululemon one for Christmas last year. As much as the frugal part of me doesn't want to admit it, there is a huge difference between the $20 mat and the $70 mat. Yoga is a key part of my running routine.

Fitbit Charge HR

Since I have been sidelined from running for a bit, I would love to have more feedback on my workouts and overall activity levels. While there are still some issues with the accuracy of the step information, the heartrate part has been pretty well reviewed. (I may be giving this to myself before Christmas.)

Gym Bag

I am still carrying around the gym bag I used in grad school 10 years ago. It has stood up really well, but there are so many cool ones on the market now. I would love something with a separate spot for shoes and maybe a waterproof pocket or place for a yoga mat. 

Foam Roller

If your runner don't have one, this is a great gift. Foam rolling is one of those things I have a love/hate relationship. It hurts so good and has been a great addition to my training.


This is the ultimate present for a runner. A good massage can loosen tight muscles and help with the soreness most of us walk around with. Finding a good place close to your area is key for this one.

Hair ties, headbands and your runners favorite fuel (I like Honey Stingers) are also great stocking stuffers.

I hope you have a wonderful holiday season.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

House to Home - Picking Paing Colors

When we moved into our house a little over two years ago, we were super excited that the house was a blank slate. Looking back, it was too much of a blank slate. I had an idea of the look I was going for, but once we got into the process, it was so much harder than I realized.

As soon as we signed the contract on our house, I was on Pinterest trying to figure out what I wanted the house to look like. Then E came along and my days of lazily looking at decor were long gone. That first year was a blur and we didn't do anything with the house. It kind of looked like college kids had moved in and were playing house.

This summer we knew we had to get serious about getting the house together. We found a painter and then it was time to pick colors. No problem right....not so much.

I wanted the main neutral color for the house to be grey. I am a big fan of the style they use over at Young House Love and wanted to bring some of that into our house. After looking, I will tell you that there are way more than 50 shades of grey and finding the right one is really hard.

So many colors
Our painter used Sherwin-Williams paint, so I was trying to find a SW grey. We started with 5 and within seconds of putting them on the wall, I knew that none of them was the one. After some doing some digging because of webite issues, I got my hands on the grey I had originally seen...Benjamin Moore Moonshine. This color is crazy amazing because of how much it changes in the light. Walking out of the store, there was no way this color was going to work, but once I got a sample and got it on our wall, it was perfect.


More samples
The rest of the house took a little less work. It only took 3 samples to find the right blue for the kitchen. I would call that a win after the 7 it took to find the grey. After a brief plan to paint the master bedroom purple (which I had a bit of a nervous breakdown about), we ended up with a soothing aqua. The spare bath is a deep blue, the office a pretty grey/green/blue and a grey/brown for our bathroom. I have to say that I love them all, which I never thought I would say.
The prefect grey

Grey with some blue accent

It is amazing the difference a little paint can make. It is also nice to be able to get crayon off the wall without taking all the paint along with it. Go for not builder grade white paint. After all this, here are my tips for picking the perfect paint color.
  • Give yourself time. The process took way longer than I thought it would.
  • Get samples. Spend the $7 each to make sure you have the right color. (If anyone needs paint samples, I have several boxes in the garage.)
  • Go with your gut. The grey color I first saw is the one that ended up being perfect. I would have saved myself several paint samples if I had tracked it down from the beginning. 
The house is back together and now it is time to get some things on the walls. Back to Pinterest.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Adventures in Parenting - Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party

We started Halloween a little early this year with a trip to Mickey's Not so Scary Halloween Party. Since life is always a little crazy in our house, Tuesday, October 27, was the only date that worked for us. As you could probably guess, the party was sold out. 

I was a little hesitant about the party because it started at 7 p.m. at E is normally in bed by 8 p.m. but, Grandma wanted to take her and what Grandma wants Grandma gets. Spoiler alert...we ended up having a ton of fun.

Living in Orlando and being an annual passholder was a big benefit for this event. A month out from the party, I got a couple of late afternoon Fast Passes. You can't get passes for the party, but you can get them for before 7 p.m. 

We got to the park about 3:30 p.m. Unfortunately it was raining the day we went. It was never a downpoor, but just enough drizzle to be annoying at points. I wasn't sure if E would fit in her stroller in costume, so we changed her after we got to the park.

Look Daddy!

After getting E dressed in her costume, we headed to the hub area to take some photos. It was nice to get some pictures of E with decent light and not a ton of people around.
My princess

So much attitude

Then we headed back to Fantasyland and hit one of E's favorite rides—the carousel.

Then it was time to visit Cinderella. Fast Pass made a huge difference here. When we got there, the standby time was 70 minutes, but since we had fastpasses, we only had to wait a couple of minutes for E to meet her princess.

Someone got a kiss from a princess

We killed some time riding another of E's favorites—Small World and then it was time for dinner. My advice is if you are going with a little one, doing dinner early really helps with the party experience. Anyone with a toddler knows that they are much happier with a full belly. We ate about 5:30 and hit the window between the day guests leaving and the party guests not eating yet.

After dinner we took a spin on Buzz Lightyear and then headed to find a spot for the Hocus Pocus Show and Parade. Since the adult/kid ratio in our party was 3 to 1, we left Daddy to hold territory while Grandma and I took E trick-or-treating. The stations opened at 7 p.m. and E got through 5 or 6 before we headed back for the show. (She loved the trick-or-treating. Once she realized that people give you candy, she was super excited.)

About 7:45 p.m. we headed back to the castle stage. Unfortunately, it was raining just hard enough that the show didn't run. If the one song we saw was any indication, the show would have been pretty amazing.

Shortly after the show, it was parade time. I let E have a couple of her "trick-or-treats" while we were waiting and she enjoyed that. E was a little uneasy with the parts of the parade, but once it was over, she couldn't stop talking about it.

We asked E what she wanted to do after the parade and she said she wanted to trick-or-treat. We set her in the stroller and headed over to the next trick-or-treat station. Unfortunately, by the time we got there, my princess had fallen asleep with her glow wand in hand. I tried to see if she wanted to do more, but she was out, so we headed out of the park. It was a great night and I can't wait to go next year.

(The rain made taking photos after dark pretty much impossible.)