The Big Three

My happy little traveler.
My happy little traveler.

While we were in London, we took a few trips outside of the city to checkout lots of bucket-list type attractions. Our longest day trip was an 11-hour bus tour that took us to Windsor Castle, Stonehenge and Bath. It was a lot to cover in one day, but the rushed trip was very much worth it.

Windsor Castle
Windsor Castle

We booked the tour with Viator. They picked us up at our hotel, bright and early. We were ready with our cameras, snacks, packed diaper bag and carrier.  The first stop was Windsor Castle and it was about a 2-hour drive from London. Windsor Castle is gorgeous. My favorite part was Queen Mary’s enormous and elaborate doll house. I’m talking BIG. It took a good 15-20 minutes to look at quickly. I wonder if any kids were ever actually allowed to play with it… Interesting fact: Queen Victoria was often called the “Widow Of Windsor” after Prince Albert’s death because on the rare occasion that she was spotted outside she was always dressed in black and mourning.

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We rushed through our tour because poor Luna had broken out in horrible hives all over her torso for the second time in a week. I realized she was wearing the same wool shirt both occasions so we quickly scoured through a couple souvenir shops and bought her a touristy London kids cotton tee to wear.

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Next stop, Stonehenge! To be frank, I was not super excited about looking at a bunch or rocks. The fact, that Luna was refusing a nap (shocking, I know) and being a grumpus didn’t help. I wore Luna in her carrier out to the rocks and was blasted with the craziest winds. She was screaming and I just did my best to keep bouncing and to cover her with my scarf, neither of which helped. Too bad too, because those giant prehistoric mystery rocks stacked on each other were very impressive. They are a part of UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites, which is a good list to check off if you travel. After a few photos, Luna and I spent most of our time in the gift shop playing with stuffed sheep and trying the wine samples.

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Our final stop, and longest drive, was to Bath. In my opinion, they saved the best for last. Bath, yet another World Heritage Site, is gorgeous. The yellow stone, Georgian architecture and the river that runs through it is stunning. Just the sight of the city as you are getting close is breathtaking. Sadly, we didn’t get a lot of time to explore the city of Bath because we focused our time there at the Roman Baths. Somewhere around a million years ago, give or take a few, Romans turned bath into a spa town. They used the natural hot springs to create lots of baths and fancy places to hangout and relax. These Romans had the right idea. I just wanted to go back in time and hop into these hot springs while I walked around listening to the audio guide with my scarf and coat wrapped tightly around me. That hot water and skinny dipping sounded heavenly.

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So, drinking the water from the hot springs is  said to be "healing".
So, drinking the water from the hot springs is said to be “healing”.

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It took almost 3 hours to get home, but it wasn’t horrible. The entire day was fast and furious, but considering it was the only way we would have possibly been able to squeeze all 3 sights into our itinerary, I’m thrilled we did it. (Plus, even with all the driving, we still managed to get more than our 10,000 steps in for the day.) If you are ever in London, I highly recommend taking the day trip to all three sights. unless, you have lots of time. If you have the time then I would suggest spending a full day in Bath. I would love to go back and spend a day exploring!

Guess we will have to plan another trip to England one day…darn.

Cheers!

#WCW

It’s Wednesday, also known as #wcw, and for those of you not in the know (or who don’t spend too much time figuring out hashtags on social media), that’s “Woman crush Wednesday”. It’s the day when fellow Facebookers, Tweeters and Instagrammers share photos of women they think are hot or whom they admire. Today,  a friend of mine posted a photo of herself, and I thought it was the most inspiring #wcw ever.

She mentioned everything she loved about herself (faults and all). Honestly, as I read her description of her #wcw I had trouble believing it was her because she was saying such nice things… and since when do us women say such nice things about ourselves? Then, she said this…

Here’s the thing ladies: none of us love every part of ourselves, but it’s the imperfections in our reflections that show the life we’ve lived so far….

The brave thing to do is to own who you are; to stand up and not only know your worth, but to demand other people to know it, too. Own it. Walk in confidence. Love yourself. – Krystin Behannon

(Hope you don’t mind me sharing your beautiful words with the world Krystin!)

I thought about her post all day… as I drove, as I rocked Luna through her fever, while I did burpees, when I ate chips and salsa for dinner and when I looked in the mirror at my wild eyebrows. Throughout the day I wondered, what do I like about myself? I made mental lists, and I’ve got to say, it felt good. In fact, it felt great to focus on what I love about myself as opposed to constantly dwelling on all of my many imperfections.

So, today, my #wcw is the badass chick who writes this kickass blog.

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She is fierce. At 30 years old, she is the strongest she has ever been and loves her body (deformed belly button and all). I love her toned legs, ability to finish a race and to backpack through many countries…because this girl lives for adventure.  She loves deeply and has the biggest heart for children. I love her ability to connect with kids, make learning fun and to quiet a classroom with one serious look. I love her crazy braids, chipped nails (always) quirky earrings and tiny ears. I love that she is either in heels or barefoot, drinks too much coffee, loves all things Disney, dances from room-to-room and sings Taylor Swift everyday to her daughter (off-key). I love her caring heart, her appreciation for everyday, her sensitivity to others and the fact that she still believes in writing letters.  She is not perfect, but she loves herself.

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Woop, woop! Still working out! It's not easy, but it's worth it!

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A rooftop bar is totally legal.

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Do me (and yourself) a favor and make a list of why you are your own crush today.

Does a mind wonders.

Cheers!

Who Do You Run For?

She was so happy....just hours before all hell broke lose. Boo.
She was so happy….just hours before all hell broke lose. Boo.

Forgive the rushed review and many typos ahead. I am writing this from the living room floor after a looonnggg day and a half of baby stomach flu, Husband stomach flu and a washer that decided to break and flood the laundry room floor while in the middle of cleaning puked on blankets. PLEASE DO NOT LET ME BE NEXT. 

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Do you run or workout in any form? Who are you doing that hard work for? Yourself? Your spouse? Your kids? A friend? All of the above? I think the last would be my answer. Mostly, I run/workout for my health and sanity, which is definitely good for every one. However, on Saturday, I ran for those who have been affected by lung cancer… and myself, my baby, my Husband, my Aunt and my friends (my workout team).

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Saturday, we ran the Free to Breath 5k in Nashville to raise money for lung cancer. I ran in honor of my Uncle John, who passed away from lunch cancer when I was in high school, and 2 survivors, my cousin and my friend.

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We had a new member to our racing team this time too. Our Aunt Amy ran her very first 5k with us and she was incredible! I know how hard it is to force yourself to get up and run and train, so I am always so impressed when anyone starts a new workout plan. Aunt Amy began “couch to 5k” training a couple of months ago and her hard work is inspiring. I hope she signs up to run with us next month!

Look who crossed the finish line for the first time!
Look who crossed the finish line for the first time!

This the first annual Free to Breathe 5k to be held in Nashville. Overall, they did a good job. The volunteers were some of the most enthusiastic cheerleaders and kept us motivated throughout the entire course. There was a DJ that managed to get the entire crowd doing line dances and hip-hop moves before 9am, and the treats and coffee they provided were great. They could, however, stand to improve their organizational skills and may want to consider timing the race and offering awards to the top finishers next time.

Post-race dance party!
Post-race dance party!

It wasn’t perfect, but it was a beautiful run through Shelby Bottoms and we will consider doing this race again next time around.

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Cheers!

An Even Better Phone

So, remember that time I quit the iPhone and said how freakin’ amazing the Samsung Galaxy S4 is? Well, it’s been a while and now I’ve gotten to try the Motorola Droid Turbo and HOLY COW, this phone is so much better! I love it, and all of a sudden my Galaxy S4 seems so slow and old and yucky and light years behind.

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There are lots of cool techy features about the phone that involve words like resolution, processor, RAM and Kavlar, but you can read about that somewhere else. I’m going to tell you what I like about the phone, and I do not plan on using any of the cell phone jargon. Here goes something.

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1. It has awesome voice control! You can set a voice command, or launch phrase, to whatever you like to get your phone’s attention. My phone responds to, “Excuse me, Mr. Wonderful.” I say that simple phrase and Mr. Wonderful lights up and is ready to fulfill my needs. It is ridiculously accurate, once I whispered my launch phrase to a friend and it responded. It’s so nice to have someone…er something, that always listens.

2. This is related to #1, but it needs it own number: Voice commands! For example, these are some conversations that happen between me and my Mr. Wonderful….

Excuse me, Mr. Wonderful. Take Me Home. (Google maps will then route me home.)

Excuse me, Mr. Wonderful. Call Peter my love. (Calls Husband)

Excuse me, Mr. Wonderful. Take a selfie. (selfie cam turns out, counts down and takes pic without me pressing a button)

Excuse me, Mr. Wonderful. Play Taylor Swift, Shake it Off. (video on, baby stops crying)

I especially love this feature in the car. I typically keep my phone attached to this little device that connects to my AC vent so I can see the maps or whatever. I can have complete texting conversations without ever needing to look at or touch my phone.

3. It knows when you are driving. Yup, it will recognize the speed and background noise and go into driving mode. For example when someone calls or texts you it will say, “Text from Mom, say listen if you would like to hear text”. Everything is hands-free and it works so well.

4. It takes great photos. Here are some photos I took that have not been retouched in anyway.

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5. Everything seems faster. Maps, google, facebook, instagram and even texting seem so much faster.

6. The battery last a very long time. They say it lasts 2 days, but I use my phone a lot, so it lasts me all day, which is better than any other phone.

7. It’s bigger and prettier. The screen looks amazing.

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8. It chargers much faster. It has a “turbo charger”.

It does lots of other neat tricks, but I guess you’ll just have to get one and find out what they are!

What phone are you using?

Cheers!

 

Adios Winter!

A snowy driveway
A snowy driveway

Finally. It is FINALLY looking like winter is over and spring is arriving. I cannot tell you how much I dreaded this winter. Last winter was the longest coldest most depressing (literally) winter of my life. I dreaded this winter so much that I had a list in order to prepare myself for the long cold and dark months. I needed strategies to keep myself from falling down that dark hole I was in last year. (Although not being in the hospital or sick at home, was already a huge improvement.)

Shake it off, Belle
Shake it off, Belle

I planned to work out six days a week,  organize parties and get-togethers, go on many cold walks, indulge in extra Starbucks and I even booked our trip to the UK specifically so I had something exciting to look forward to and get me through the worst part of the year.

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However, winter this year wasn’t so bad. Maybe, it was the exaggerated version of winter I had built in my head or the fact that I stuck to my plan, but it didn’t suck. We had a very busy winter of traveling, partying, playdates, 5k’s and a lot more. The best part of this winter is that we had snow, real snow. Not that stick-to-the-grass-for-a-couple-of-hours crap we had the last couple of years, but real fluffy, able-to-build-snowmen, kind of snow.

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In fact, we got snow here, in New York and in Scotland. Apparently, the last couple of weeks of winter felt the need to make up for missed snow. While it was not as fun traveling, it was enjoyable at home. I even got to take a walk around the house during Luna’s nap one day. (Don’t worry, Husband was home.)

snow-covered Edinburgh as we left Scotland
snow-covered Edinburgh as we left Scotland
Central Park
Central Park
our neighborhood
our neighborhood

 

We also had ice, and a lot of it. Ice storms aren’t the best to play in, but there is something exciting about stalking up on groceries and hibernating in your house for a couple of days. I love an excuse to stay in my PJ’s and watch too much TV.

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the backyard
the backyard

The last few days have been warm and sunny. Yellow daffodils and green grass are sprouting all over the place. It’s raining. The animals are getting frisky, and while my allergies are starting to flare, I am so so so excited for warm weather!

Luna is loving the time she is getting to spend outside this week.
Luna is loving the time she is getting to spend outside this week.

Here’s to spring cleaning, afternoon walks, iced coffees, egg hunts, bright colors, sandals, sunglasses and fresh berries!

Cheers!

Edinburgh, the Last Stop

view from the train, apparently not as entertaining as T. Swift
view from the train, apparently not as entertaining as T. Swift

Our final stop on our United Kingdom vacation was Edinburgh, Scotland. It was the cherry on top of what was already a fantastic trip. The 3 hour train ride was a little long for Luna, but we had a nice view and Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off” video on repeat to keep us (i.e. Luna) happy. We learned quickly that Edinburgh was going to be the coldest of all our stops, but also the most beautiful. Stop #1: Edinburgh Castle.

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It was very windy. So windy, that it was difficult to push the stroller uphill. I tried to stay inside the state rooms, exhibits and gift shops as much as possible. There was a minute where I went outside in a courtyard area… I sat Luna down, told Peter to watch her and walked ahead of them to study the map. A few seconds later, I turned around to ask Husband something and was shocked to see a Chinese woman holding Luna and her Chinese tour group of about 20 surrounding them and taking photos with their iPads. I then see Husband with this face…

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But, really, who wouldn't want to pick up the cutie and take her picture?
But, really, who wouldn’t want to pick up this cutie and take her picture?

We walked around doing touristy stuff and exploring the dark and mysterious St. Giles Cathedral before hitting the sack that night. We had to go to bed early because I was making everyone wake up an hour before sunrise the next day. We got up with the moon, dressed in lots of layers, put Luna in the carrier and started walking.

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The goal was to walk through town, to Holyrood Park and hike to the top of Arthur’s Seat. It’s a very tall hill formed from an extinct volcano and is very popular for hiking, but is known for being a little difficult and often very windy. The plan was to hike to the top at sunrise, take in the amazing views, hike down and eat an enormous breakfast at a local family restaurant where I made a reservation. That was the plan…

Halfway up we could barely stand the incredible winds whipping us in the face, and poor baby Luna could not make it one more step. She was inconsolable and I felt like the worst Mom in the history of Moms for even attempting to hike with her to the top of a windy small mountain. In an attempt to redeem myself, I sent the boys up to the top and hiked back down with a baby strapped to me as the sun came up. I managed to find the restaurant where I had made a reservation and decided I’d have coffee until the boys made it down.

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At least they got to enjoy the views.
At least they got to enjoy the views.

Here’s a video that shows just how strong the wind at the top of Arthur’s Seat was, and of my Dad-in-law almost falling down.

I was confused to find the doors locked, and even more confused when I read on the door that they don’t open until 11am everyday, especially since I made a reservation online for breakfast at 9am. I began walking uphill on The Royal Mile back to our hotel feeling peeved that I missed the sunrise, the views, a huge breakfast and had yet to have any coffee. Luna was feeling like 50 pounds hanging from my shoulders and was sound asleep, but as I carried her and wondered the very quiet empty streets as the sun came up I began to appreciate the moment. How many people can say they walked the Royal Mile with their baby in their arms as the sun rose? Besides, we got coffee and breakfast somewhere else.

Okay, I have rambled a lot on this post, so let me speed through some other top spots in Edinburgh. We hit up Holyroodhouse Palace where Queen Elizabeth stays during the summer and where Mary Queen of Scots lived and watched her boyfriend get murdered! (Have I mentioned my new fascination with Mary yet?)

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We climbed the teeny tiny narrow 271 steps of spiral staircases of Sir Walter Scott’s monument, shopped and ate lots of good food. (Food blog to come!)

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view from Scott's Monument
view from Scott’s Monument

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We toured the Royal Yacht Britannia, the retired yacht of her royal majesty. It was impressive and interesting and oh-so very ridiculous. The queen would have the boat travel to somewhere, say Australia, then she would fly there with her forty-three palace workers and stay on the yacht like a floating hotel. That’s a little nutty.

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The queen's bed, surprisingly modest.
The queen’s bed, surprisingly modest.

Husband’s highlight of Scotland was the video game exhibit (no photos allowed) at the National Museum of Scotland. Luna loved the kids playroom, running around the video game exhibit distracting people and dancing with me to “Just Dance”.

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And, that’s the end of our amazing trip. No worries, though, there are many more travel stories to come!

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Cheers!

Running for a Cause

small things

I may have mentioned one or twenty times that we (“team workout buddies!”), have been running 5k’s every month in order to not only mix up our workouts, but to stay motivated when it comes to running. Well, we decided to skip the month of March because we have all just been too busy to even think about going for a run, plus winter just won’t go away. However, while searching for a race to do in April, I came across the “Free to Breath” 5k happening in Nashville on March 21st.

The Free to Breathe is a non-profit raising funds for lung cancer research. This hits close to home for me. I lost an Uncle to lung cancer when I was 17. I have a cousin who is a lung cancer survivor, and a friend who is also a survivor. Cancer sucks. Cancer sucks, and I want to do my part help fund research in order to find a cure. Sooo, looks like we are doing a race this month!

Our team of 5 will run in honor of our loved ones next weekend and there are a couple of ways that you can help support us and our cause, if you so choose.

  • Join our team! If you are in the area, then sign up here, join our team and run the 5k with us! Go Team Workout Buddies! (Yeah, I know, we need a better name… suggestions?)
  • You can click here and make a donation with just a click of the mouse. Any amount is greatly appreciated.

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It’s been raining all week, so hopefully the sun comes out soon and I can squeeze in some runs before the race. Either way, I’ll cross the finish line feeling proud and hopeful that I made a difference.

Thanks so much for all your support!

Cheers!