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I’m alive!

I know. I know. I owe you approximately a million and one life updates since I last posted in December. I promise I will get to that (I have SO MANY things I need to share about the new house!), but FIRST, I wanted to quickly blog about my race this weekend while it’s fresh on my mind.

That’s right – I ran a race!

It’s strange that something that used to be such a casual, almost weekly occurrence, has now become this special thing I only do once in a blue moon. I’m not mad about it. I’ll always be thankful to have the opportunity to do what I love – even if it’s not as often as I’d like to.

I registered for the Gasparilla 15k back in December with these grand plans to actually train and build-up to the distance. I had considered registering for the half marathon, with the mindset of “go big or go home,” but knew I was no where near where I wanted to be to run that. I’d developed a comfortable pattern of running 3 miles, 3 time a week and was happy there. 9 miles seemed doable, 13.1 miles seemed too much like a stretch.

So I registered. Made some mental notes of what I needed to reach that distance. And left it at that.

Then we moved and my vague plans all went to crap.

For the entire months of January & February our lives were dedicated...

A very belated Merry Christmas from my little family to yours.

We had a wonderful time celebrating Christmas on the east coast with friends, family, and lots of love. Annalynn was a bit overwhelmed with everything, but that’s to be expected with a two-year old. Overall she loved spending time with her cousins and eating endless amounts of chocolate covered pretzels (especially after she figured out how to open the fridge to help herself to a handful at a time). She’s just starting to grasp the concept of Christmas and the Christmas magic that comes with it.

The biggest score from our Christmas haul was hands down my brand new MacBook Pro (!!), which was a completely unexpected surprise from my amazing husband. Wow! My old MacBook Pro was from 2010 and definitely showing it’s age: it’s slow, heavy, and the keyboard doesn’t work. It’s been a dream working on my new laptop and I’m hoping this mean I’ll be more committed to blogging in the future!

Derek and I both took the past week after Christmas off so we could pack the house up and prepare...

Between selling our house, preparing to move, the crazy amount of birthday parties we’ve been invited to this month, and sheer laziness; Derek and I have seriously been dropping the ball on holiday festivities this year. Usually I LOVE this time of year and can’t wait to do ALLTHINGSCHRISTMAS, but this year it all felt like a challenge and not worth the effort. Bahhumbug, right?

Still, I wanted to do something to commemorate the season before it was over. Something with lights? The zoo? A local theme park? Anything holiday-ish?! Hmmm….

I researched a decent amount of local events with some great potential, but all I could think about were the insane amount of crowds and how dealing with those crowds with a two-year old would make the event seem less jolly and more like a deep level of hell. Then my co-worker told me she had taken her daughter to the local Bass  Pro Shop the weekend before and loved it. She raved how the store went all-out for the occasion and how her daughter was begging to go back again. Hmm…. Bass Pro Shop? I had seen friends posting photos of their kids with Santa at Bass Pro Shop in the past, but hadn’t really given it much thought. Plus, after last year’s terrible Santa experience (exhibit A), I wasn’t exactly over the moon with the idea of taking Annalynn again this year.

Still, she convinced me it may be worth it when she explained all the additional activities,...

It’s that time of year again!  The time when everyone is scrambling to find the perfect gift for kids of all ages. Below are some gift recommendations for the two year olds in your life based off of what’s currently loved in our house.

Purple Hippo Book

Full Disclosure: I was sent this book for free in exchange for a review. However, we ended up loving it so much, that I just ordered two more as Christmas gifts for our youngest nephews. It’s become a favorite read in our house and Annalynn loves reading (or at least simply recognizing) her full name on the cover. Thanks to this book, if you ask her what her name is she will happily state “Annalynn Russell!”

Purple Hippo Books began as a labor of love, as most Etsy shops do. The crazy- talented founder began designing adorable name books for each of her nieces and nephew.  They were such a hit that she decided to make a go at selling them to a broader audience online.


Each Purple Hippo Book features a custom story that tells the story of how the child...

Last month we made the big leap and transitioned Annalynn to a toddler bed. So far, so good!

This wasn’t something we were originally planning on doing so soon. Annalynn was a great sleeper in her crib and our goal was to keep her there as long as possible. She never tried to escape and never fought us when she went to bed – why mess with a good thing?

However, right before her second birthday I decided to try and hunt down the transition parts that would turn her crib into a toddler bed. That way we would be prepared if we needed to make a fast change.  One of the reasons we purchased our particular crib, was the ability for it to transition from a crib to a toddler bed to a full size bed and essentially grow with her. However, we naively didn’t buy all of those transitional pieces right away, thinking we could purchase them when it came time to make the actual transition. Well, that was a dumb move. Turns out they no longer make our crib and all of the transitional pieces that are out there are either the wrong color or $$$. So there goes that plan.

Instead, I started to keep an eye out for a simple secondhand toddler bed that wouldn’t  break the bank. I found one at Once Upon a Child for...

Whoa! Where the heck did I disappear to? My apologies for dropping the ball here. It’s been a crazy past couple of months and I feel like time sort of got away from me.

Let’s play a game of catch-up on what’s going in in our lives…

For starters, Annalynn started a new school and we LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it.

It’s just down the street from her old school, but I love the teachers and the set-up of the new school so much more. It feels like she’s in an actual school now and not just a daycare. She’s also grown and learned so much in the month she’s been there. She knows some of her colors now, can count up to 10, and sings along with songs.  I’ve loved watching her grow in such a short amount of time.

We transitioned Annalynn to a toddler bed.

I owe a full post on this one. It wasn’t something we were planning on doing, but sort of became a “why not?” in the moment. Details to come.

Derek and I have binge watched 10 seasons of Big Bang Theory.

Yes, I know, we’re way behind on this one,...

Fall has made its way to Central Florida (sort of) and with it comes a full lineup of seasonally-themed things to see and do in the Tampa Bay area. While I’ve always loved this time of year and the festivities it brings, it’s even better now that we have a toddler to share it with. Scratch that. It’s even better now that I can fully appreciate the toddler-friendly activities that keep us entertained and out of the house this time of year. Three cheers for that!

Here’s a list of our favorite toddler-friendly Fall activities in Tampa Bay thus far. I really appreciate that these are all local and don’t require a full day of commitment. We were able to get out of the house and have some fun, while still fitting in regular scheduled naps. A win-win!

Sweetfield Farms

Sweetfield Farms is a hidden gem in Brooksfield, about 30 minutes north of Tampa. It’s an interactive pumpkin patch with hayrides, a corn maze, games, animals, things to climb on, and more. We first visited Sweetfield Farms on a whim two years ago, when Annalynn was just 3 weeks old. My sister and her family were in town and I had a severe case of cabin fever and needed to get out of the house. I googled “fall things to do in Tampa” and Sweetfield Farms was one of the first things that popped up – it was an instant hit!

Happy Birthday, sweet girl! I can’t believe you’re two years old! Life really does flies when you’re having fun!

It’s funny, I never realize how much you’ve truly grown until an old photo pops up in my timeline and my jaw drops from how you’ve changed. Gone is the precious, hairless newborn who used to fall asleep so easily in my arms. In her place is a strong, independent toddler who’s current favorite phrase is “no mama.” You insist on doing everything yourself and love trying new things. You’re also very vocal and never turn down going on an adventure. You’re so, so brave. I love it.

The official report from the doc is you’re a healthy (and strong!) 26.2 lbs and 36 in tall. Not only are you finally tall enough to ride the cars at Tomorrowland Speedway, but you can also try Goofy’s Barnstormer! (Yep, totally judging your height based off of what rides you are tall enough for at Disney. ;)) You’re comfortable wearing 2T-3T clothes, size 7 shoes, and size 5 diapers.


Where do I begin? You’ve grown leaps and bounds in the 6 months since...

Over the weekend we had the honor of celebrating a very special almost two-year old’s birthday at Walt Disney World.

First of all, I still can’t believe Annalynn will be TWO on Sunday. When did my baby get so big?!?! They say it goes fast, but you truly don’t understand just how fast it goes until you are in it.

Since September is traditionally a “slower” month at Walt Disney World, we were able to take advantage of a few special offers and turned our Disney celebration into an overnight stay without going too overboard on budget. I was able to book a hotel room at the All Star Movies Resort for under $100 thanks to an enchanted Florida resident special AND, for the first time since I’ve been an Annual Passholder, Walt Disney World was offering a “Bring-A-Friend” special for AP holders for the month of September. The special is good for a one-day park hopper pass for $79!! The fine print stipulates you have to purchase the ticket the day of us, the AP holder must be present at time of purchase, and you can only purchase up to 6 tickets, but that’s still a great deal for Disney! Fingers-crossed the trial run for the “bring-a-friend” special is a success and they start incorporating more deals like that! I also packed our lunch for Friday and we...

Hi Friends! First of all, thank you for all of the emails and messages sending your support and concerns. I would have updated here sooner, but I’ve been having trouble accessing the site’s login page. If you’re seeing this message, that means I finally got in – woo hoo! – let’s hope it stays that way.

My family and I have been monitoring Hurricane Irma’s track all week. We watched as the track wavered between hitting the west coast, the east coast, going straight up the middle, and back to Florida’s west coast. If there’s anything I’ve learned in my 32 years of living in Florida, it’s never trust a hurricane – they have a mind of their own. We spent the week taking all of the necessary precautions in preparation for the storm. As they say – prepare for the worst and hope for the best. We stocked our pantry, cleared out our yard, filled buckets with water, etc. Our original plan was to stay in Tampa and ride it out. Our home is pretty far from the coast and we’re not in a flood zone, so we felt safe in that decision.

And then Friday happened…

Irma’s track began to inch closer and closer to Tampa, until it got to the point where I could literally zoom in and see the nice line head directly over my house. Ugh. I watched...

Welcome to my happy place.

A few months ago my parents offered to watch Annalynn for a weekend. When someone offers to take your kid for a weekend, it’s recommended that you not waste any time confirming a date and booking a much-needed trip away. I’m pretty sure we booked the 3-night cruise less than a week after my parents first brought it up – no need to tell us twice. Have I mentioned we haven’t had a kids-free vacation since before Annalynn was born?! It was desperately needed. We love our kid, but mommy and daddy needed some alone time, stat! Plus, Amma and Pop Pop were dying for some quality one-one-one time- it was really a win-win situation.

Last Friday we loaded up the car and headed to the east coast. We stopped at my parents’ house and prepared for a big emotional good-bye with Annalynn, but there was no need. She gave a simple “bye-bye” and then went back to reading with Pop Pop. Clearly this was going to be fine.

Derek and I boarded  Royal Caribbean’s Majesty of the Sea for our weekend trip to the Bahamas. It was the same itinerary we had for our first cruise together back in 2009, so we were...

Recently Derek and I started making the conscious effort to tighten up our spending habits. We’re in the process of searching for a new house (that’s another post for another day…) and would like to fatten up our savings account before making a down payment. What does that mean? Less dinners out, more coupons at the grocery store, and cutting out some frivolous spending. While there is no way I would call my fitness memberships “frivolous” it was obviously the first big thing to go. I LOVED, LOVED all of my classes at Bar Method Tampa, but I could no longer justify the hefty monthly expense. My last class was bittersweet to say the least.

Instead of paying for fitness classes or a gym membership, I decided to build up my “home gym” and stick to some morning circuit training in my driveway. I already had a shelf full of old equipment that had been sitting dormant for years. My forgotten goodies included a set of kettlebells, light free weights, plenty of yoga mats (at one point it felt like every company was handing them out like candy), and some other odds and ends. I ordered a slam ball off of Amazon and pretty much called it a day. There’s still more I’d like to add to it (heavier set of free weights, jump rope, etc.), but what I have works great for now.

Back when I...

My sister, sister-in-laws, and I have been dying to do a girls’ weekend for over a year now. We’ve gushed on multiple occasions how much fun it would be to leave the husbands and kids behind for a night out on the town. Of course, nothing came of it until a couple of months ago when my sister texted the group out of nowhere and demanded we stop discussing and start doing. So we picked a date, booked a hotel, made a dinner reservation, and made it happen. Sometimes you just need one person to speak up to get something done. Thank you, Kelly, for being that superstar.

Saturday morning I was up early ready to go. I finished packing my bag, gave Derek and Annalynn a big kiss good-bye, and headed to Walt Disney World for our girls’ getaway. I know Walt Disney World doesn’t seem too crazy for most, but it’s the perfect meeting spot halfway between my sister/SILs on the east coast and me on the west coast. Plus, we were able to score a great deal on Priceline for the Hilton Bonnet Creek and Disney Springs has a ton of new restaurants we’ve been dying to try.

I left on the early side since I wanted to make a quick pit stop at Hollywood Studios. They had recently announced that the Great Movie Ride would be closing in...

One of my absolute favorite parts of being a mom is breaking from routine and taking my daughter on new adventures. Whether it be a random evening swim, heading straight to the park after daycare, or exploring a new spot on the weekend –  I love seeing her face light up when we take a break from the ordinary and do something fun. My parents would take us on random outings all the time when I was kid and those memories are some of my absolute favorite.

My husband and I have recently made a commitment to have some fun with our PTO. We both have some days we need to use up before the end of the year, so we’re trading off taking random days off during the week and taking Annalynn on new adventures. He took her to the aquarium the other month, and I thought it would be fun to take Annalynn to Typhoon Lagoon for the first time this month.

I practically grew up at Walt Disney World’s water parks. When the summer heat would become too unbearable for the regular parks, my parents would shift their focus to the water parks. We were there pretty much every other weekend, rotating between River Country, Blizzard Beach, and Typhoon Lagoon. We loved it and always had a great time. I had the chance to revisit Blizzard Beach a few...

Man, am I sore today! Everything hurts. My arms hurt, my legs hurt, it hurts to laugh, it hurts to sit, and a co-worker had to help me out of a bean bag chair in the conference room because my legs almost gave out when I tried to do it myself (it was a hilarious moment, I can assure you).

I haven’t been this sore in a while, and I have a great full weekend of fun activities to thank for it.

On Saturday, Annalynn and I met up with some friends at Altitude Tampa, a local indoor trampoline park. My friends had been previously with their toddler and had a blast during the dedicated toddler time. It’s also a great deal. Toddler time is free for kids under the age of 2, and only $2 for accompanying adults. I did have to pay $2 for trampoline socks for both Annalynn and myself, but our total for the outing only came to $6.75, and that’s including the purchase of the socks – talk about a bargain!

I’ve only been to one other trampoline park before, and I have to say, Altitude Tampa blew that one out of the water. The massive set-up was really impressive and included a dodgeball court, basketball courts, rock wall, jumping pit, trapeze swing, battle beam, and a sectioned off kid’s zone that’s only...

It’s Monday! Time to reminisce over the weekend.

We’ve officially reached the rainy season in Florida, which translates to rain, rain, and more rain on a daily basis. Luckily we caught a break with the weather over the weekend and actually had some sunshine in the forecast. It was still hot, hot, hot – but we managed to stay cool.

Friday Night

Derek was out at happy hour with some co-workers, so it was just the girls on Friday night. We played, had dinner, and then decided to take an impromptu trip to Jeremiah’s for Italian Ice. This was the first time we’ve taken a random trip out for dessert after dinner and it felt a little adventurous to break the rules and stay out past bedtime. We split a peanut butter ice and Annalynn loved every bite.


Our morning started out with swim class.

We switched to the parent-free class back in April and – in full disclosure – it’s been a bit of a struggle. We were told the first couple of classes would be difficult as she adjusted to mom not being in the pool anymore, but a “couple of weeks” turned into a “couple of months.” She does great with all of the skills in the water (girl can kick like a champ and loves to swim to the wall),...

Hi! I’m alive!

It’s been a crazy couple of weeks around here. Work has really been picking up at the office, my sister and her family were in town last weekend, and I simply don’t open my laptop up as much as I used to when I’m at home. Honestly, the days and weeks seem to fly by way too quickly – I honestly can’t believe we’re halfway through June!

Let’s play a little catch-up.

What I’m Watching: The Handmaid’s Tale

Dang, this show is good! The cinematography, the storyline, the characters – everything immediately pulls you in and it’s hard to look away. The modern dystopia depicted in the show is so relevant in the current political climate and definitely makes you think. The storyline was so enticing, that I downloaded the original book and have been listening to it on my daily commute, as well as my morning runs and evening walks with Maddie. Despite originally being written in the 1980s, the book still feels very fresh and not dated at all. If you’re a fan of the show – I highly recommend the book for a deeper dive into Offred’s head and thoughts.

What I’m Wearing: Le Tote

I signed up  for Le Tote last month and have really been enjoying it thus far....