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? 

Monday, March 7, 2016

Training for Life

A couple of people have asked me about my upcoming race calendar, and right now, that calendar is pretty empty. That is by design. I decided not to do a number of races this spring. The only thing officially on the calendar is a corporate 5k in April, but that is more about hanging out with co-workers than a race I really care about. While I don't have a lot on the calendar, it doesn't mean I am not training.

Right now I am training for life. I mentioned in my new years post that this year my goal is to find some balance and feel less crazy. For a number of reasons, racing has been making me crazy lately. I always think it will be a great idea and then race day gets here and I regret it. (Often because I have not gotten nearly enough sleep the night before, but that is a whole other post.) So for the next few months, I am not training for a race, but training for life.

After I had E, I was really focused on getting back into running. I did run, but I never got back to training more holistically. I would strength train and cross train for a bit and then something would come up and it was back to just running. Now it is time to focus on fitness as a whole and not just running.

The next few months are about focusing on strength and fitness. I am hoping to drop a little weight and be really ready to take on racing in the fall (hopefully a half). Most importantly, this type of training helps me focus on balance. Fewer things on the calendar and not having to worry about packets and travel and childcare is what I am all about for a while.

I am the type of person that wants to do everything and do it all NOW. As anyone with a young child knows, that is not how it works. It is hard for me to say no to racing, but sometimes you need to train for a race and other times you need to train for life.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Tips for Disney Cruising with a Toddler

It has been almost two months since we got off our Disney Cruise and I can't wait to go back. We learned a lot on this cruise...and yeah, cruising with kids is way different that cruising as a couple. Here are my tips. I hope they help you plan your cruise adventure.

Wait Until They are 3

I am not a big wait until they are old enough to remember kind of person. If I think E will enjoy something and it won't make me crazy, I will do it. That said, with only one child and unless it is a big family trip, I would wait to go on a Disney Cruise until they are 3 and potty trained. There is a lot to do for those under 3 and E had a great time, but there is a whole lot more for kids over 3.

Enjoying some toddler time
That said, I can't imagine a better ship to sail on with one under 3. You didn't have to search for changing stations. Diaper genies and cribs were brought to the room. There were a decent amount of activities for the little ones. As a whole, they were super accommodating to both E and her 7 month old cousin. If you have one over 3 and one under, this is the vacation to take. 

Check In Online and Get on Board Early

Complete your online check in as soon as you can and pick an early arrival time. This allowed for us to get through check in at the port quickly and we were one of the first few groups to get on the ship.

Once on board, we got activity tickets before the lines got to long. Had lunch and wandered the ship for a bit all before the rooms opened at 1:30. This meant that as soon as our room was open, we could go in and get E down for a nap.

Excited to get on board.

Ask About Other Times

When we got to the activity desk to get tickets for the Princess Meet and Greet, the Disney Jr breakfast and the Frozen Experience we took the first times they gave us. Unfortunately, this meant that the Frozen Experience and Princess Meet and Greet were right during nap time. This lead to a very grumpy princess who did not want to leave her Daddy's arms. If I had to do it again, I would ask for a different time.

Grumpy Princess

Don't Book Shore Excursions

As anyone with a toddler knows, they are unpredictable on a good day. We held off on booking shore excursions because of this and I think it was a good thing. We still managed to go to the beach in Grand Cayman and enjoy Cozumel, but we did it on our own terms. It also meant that we were not trapped for hours on a beach in the rain with a little one.

Coffee in Mexico and beach time in Grand Cayman

Leverage Adult Time

We took in a dinner at one of the adults only restaurants on board. This was really nice for us, because we don't get much adult time together. Between this and previous cruises we have been to both Remy and Palo and either one is a great option. Book early if you want and leverage onboard child care options.

Getting fancy on date night
We are in the process of booking our next Disney Cruise, because E keeps asking when we are going back on the big boat.