Archives for 2018

Our Polynesian Vacation

My family and I had a blast on our vacation to Walt Disney World resort last week, and I wanted to share some of the highlights with you in case you missed me live posting on Instagram stories. My parents are Disney Vacation Club members, and last year we stayed with them in a two bedroom villa at Bay Lake Tower. While it was wonderful and huge, we didn’t want to spend as many points this year so we only stated 3 nights, and we all 5 stayed in one studio villa. Yup, you heard that right.

It was a tight squeeze, but we were literally only in the room to sleep so it worked out fine. Plus, the room had two bathrooms (kind of, two showers and sinks), so that helped us to spread out a little bit. We arrived early Friday morning, checked in, and then headed straight to the Magic Kingdom. Having a small child in a stroller, staying on the monorail is a HUGE plus. No stroller folding, and quick easy access to the Magic Kingdom.

We rode the mine train (my dad’s first time) while my mom took Emma Kate to see some princesses, we rode Ariel, as well as Winnie the Pooh and Aladdin’s Magic Carpets. We recently introduced Emma Kate to the movie Aladdin, so she was pumped to ride the carpet ride! After lunch at Columbia Harbor House, my dad got his hair cut, and Bobby and I decided to take EK back to the Polynesian. We got our things from the car to the room since it was ready, and then mom and dad met us there shortly thereafter.

We loved our room and building location, and even had a pool view plus sideways castle view! We were hoping the wee one would nap, but no such luck, so we decided to head to the pool. Emma Kate LOVED the splash pad area when we were there over a year ago and I had been talking up the “awesome slides” for days, and she was so excited. We lucked out and were able to get chairs right in front of the splash pad area, and Emma Kate played for over three hours going up and down the stairs and the slides. I was tired just watching her!

 

Bobby and I had a “date” that night at the Grand Floridian Cafe, so we got showered and changed and took the monorail over for an early dinner. Honestly, my food was not good at all, but we used to really like this place (Bobby did like his food) so not sure if I just picked a bad menu item or what. After we ate, we walked around for a bit then decided to walk back to the Polynesian since the weather was so nice.

 

We split a Dole Whip then called it a night, and were all in bed at 9:00!

The next day we went to EPCOT. (pro tip: walk to the transportation and Ticket Center from the Poly instead of riding the monorail all the way around!) My parents had not seen the Flower and Garden Festival yet, so we rode the Frozen ride, met Mickey Minnie and Goofy, then walked around the world showcase to look at the flowers. I of course got one of my favorite ever adult beverages in France and we decided to head back to the hotel because Emma Kate was begging to go back to the pool.

Once again we lucked out with the chair situation, and ordered lunch from Captain Cook’s and ate by the pool (hello pulled pork nachos!) Emma Kate once again played for hours. This time we went back and forth from the big pool and big slide to the splash pad area. She played until 6:00! My parents went up about 4:00 to go on their dinner date but I figured, as long as she was happy we were staying at the pool. 
We watched the torch lighting ceremony, had some marshmallows at the campfire, and headed back to the room to get cleaned up. We ate jambalaya that my mom had cooked and brought with us (the villas have microwaves!) and just hung out in the room until my parents got back. We were all pretty wiped and we were in bed by 8:30!

The next day (Sunday) we went back to the Magic Kingdom to hit the things we didn’t do on Friday. We arrived right as it was opening, and grabbed breakfast from Starbucks and took our time heading over to Buzz Lightyear, the Peoplemover, Dumbo, and the Jungle Cruise.

We also watched the castle show with Emma Kate lloovveeess. We knew it was supposed to rain later in the afternoon, so we told Emma Kate it was her last chance to go to the pool if she wanted to do so, so we hopped on the monorail, headed back to the hotel, and ate by the pool again while Emma Kate played.

 

I was watching the radar, and watched it get darker and darker and knew it was about to rain. We decided to head up before we got soaked, and literally as soon as we got into the building it started MONSOONING outside! We lucked out and just missed it.

We then got cleaned up and ready for my dad’s birthday dinner at Trail’s End buffet. Again not wanting to use our car, we decided to take the monorail to the Magic Kingdom then a boat to Fort Wilderness. It worked out perfectly in between rain bands and just started to sprinkle as we got to the restaurant. Emma Kate was so good while we ate, and we enjoyed embarrassing my dad with some happy birthday singing by our waitress.

 

I saw another break in the rain on the radar, so we grabbed a boat from Fort Wilderness to the Contemporary, then took the monorail back to the Polynesian. My dad had to leave to drive home right after since he had to work the next day, which was sad because it made me feel like the trip was “over” even though we were still going to a park without him the next day.

Monday morning we packed up, loaded up my car, and headed to Animal Kingdom. It was COLD! The rain had brought a front through, and it was 53 degrees, which is insane for mid April in Florida! It was extra magic hours, so we arrived a few minutes before regular park opening and walked right onto the safari ride. We then hit up Starbucks before letting Emma Kate play for almost an hour at the Boneyard playground. She loves it there!

 

We were all tired so we decided to eat lunch at Flame Tree then call it a day and drive back to Tampa. I hate how fast fun trips go by, you just want to hang on as long as you can but poof, they are here and then gone in an instant. We had a wonderful 3.5 days in Disney with my family, and I wish we could have stayed longer, but Emma Kate was getting really worn out. She didn’t nap a single day we were there and played so hard.

I highly recommend staying on the monorail if you have small kids and can swing the cost. We loved how easy it was to get to everything and the activity and food options are top notch. I’m ready to go back! I am so thankful my parents have DVC and let us come stay with them for free!

An Incredible Sequel

My daughter is a huge fan of the Incredibles. We have about 3-4 movies we watch on repeat currently, and this is one of them. Thankfully it’s one of the ones I enjoy! She loves the action, the laughs, and the good guys vs. the bad guys.

 

When I told her a new Incredibles movie was coming out this summer, she was super excited and now asks me all the time if we can watch it yet (I guess I didn’t think that one through. Three year olds don’t have the best concept of time.) Anyway, I did explain what this new movie was about, and I thought I would type it out for you all, too:

“In INCREDIBLES 2, Helen (voice of Holly Hunter) is called on to lead a campaign to bring Supers back, while Bob (voice of Craig T. Nelson) navigates the day-to-day heroics of “normal” life at home with Violet (voice of Sarah Vowell), Dash (voice of Huck Milner) and baby Jack-Jack—whose super powers are about to be discovered. Their mission is derailed, however, when a new villain emerges with a brilliant and dangerous plot that threatens everything. But the Parrs don’t shy away from a challenge, especially with Frozone (voice of Samuel L. Jackson) by their side. That’s what makes this family so Incredible.”

Aahhh I can’t wait! Check out the trailer below and let me know what you think!

 

 

Incredibles 2 is coming to theaters June 15th. Will you be going to see it?

Be sure to check out their pages on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook for more.

Declutter Your Home and Life

As women, I think (at least I do) we often times feel like we are pulled in so many different directions, and it can be hard to keep everything organized and stress free in our homes. This is a problem, because I want my home to be a sanctuary. Somewhere I can go to NOT be stressed out and frazzled and feel cluttered. I know there are a lot of resources out there that can help me achieve this, but I’m never sure where to start, and purchasing a bunch of courses and guides can be really expensive.

On top of that problem, a lot of women want to be able to work from home, make their own schedule, and help with the family finances. What if I told you that you could get resources on organizing, de-cluttering, working from home, cooking, minimizing, faith, etc. all in one bundle that is over 98% off list price? What if I told you it was under $30?!?

What if I told you this bundle INCLUDES my online course, Social Side Hustle: 21 Days to Becoming a Social Media Manager? (retails at $197) 

All of these are part of the Ultimate Homemaking Bundlea collection of eCourses, eBooks, printables, workbooks, membership sites, and more! There are over 100 resources total!

Now, I get that it’s a HUGE number, but here’s the thing… even if just a handful of products apply to your life right now, it’s well worth the investment. You can always go back later and look at the other resources that may pertain to your life at a different time, because…this collection is yours to keep. It isn’t going anywhere.

So whenever you decide to focus on a new area (a work-at-home business, educating your kids, meal planning, a new printable planner, outfit ideas to freshen up your closet, etc.) you’ve got resources ready and waiting.

Everything in the bundle can be yours, but only if you buy it before it goes off sale on Monday at midnight!

You’ll also get bonus offers worth more than $180 from companies like Bookroo, Scribd, Orglamix and more!

Oh, and to sweeten the deal, I am also offering a bonus of my own. Buy through my affiliate link, and you’ll get a FREE copy of my ebook: The Average Girl’s Guide to Living an Above Average Life. You can redeem your bonus by emailing me a copy of your receipt after you purchase the bundle and I will send you a coupon code for the ebook.

Sound good? Click here to get everything you need to create a home and life you love.

P.S. If you’ve been trying to decide whether to get it or not, you might want to know they’ve got a 30-day happiness guarantee! Try it out and if you’re not satisfied for any reason, just ask for a refund within 30 days.
Ultimate Homemaking Bundle

 

When Someone Gets It Right

I have been blogging for a long time now, and have had the privilege of working with a lot of what people call “big brands.” Like many bloggers, I have a list–yes a literal physical LIST of “dream brands” that I have wanted to work with. As my blog has evolved, so has my special list, and I have always worked hard towards making contacts and connections, networking, and doing all the right things to get noticed by brands.

Why is my list what it is and why are there certain brands on it? Well, a few reasons. Let’s break them into three categories. First, some brands on my list are brands I just absolutely adore and would love to experience their product, service, or destination. Next, some brands are on the list because it’s a status thing–I mean let’s be real here. We can all say we aren’t competitive and that we don’t care when we get passed on an invite to an event or for a sponsored post, but it can be hard to not take things personally…so yes, some of the brands on my list are there simply for the sheer fact that when you get invited to work with them you KNOW it’s a special honor. #SorryNotSorry

Then there is a third category. A category that isn’t as glamorous or high profile to most. This category has brands in it that sure, you have heard of, but maybe you don’t know much about. You know that they work with influencers, and you are intrigued, but that’s about as far as it goes.

I’m going to be REALLY REAL with you right now. Before this past week, Kia fell in that little forgotten third category for me. The only thing I knew about Kia was that when I was a kid, people used to make fun of how crappy of a car it was. Literally, that. was. it. (I know, I’m so embarrassed to even admit that y’all.) So no, they weren’t on my special A list and I wasn’t constantly obsessed with reading tweets and recaps about the brand, desperately trying to make a connection. It wasn’t like that for me, but boy do I feel silly now, because it SHOULD have absolutely been like that for me now that I know what I know.

Do you ever get that really warm fuzzy happy feeling where you just can’t stop smiling, and you aren’t even sure why? That’s how I felt for the less than 48 hours I was in San Diego last week spending time with the amazing folks at Kia. My misconceptions about the brand quickly did a 180, not only as a blogger, but as a consumer.

I had no idea that nearly 40% of all Kia vehicles sold here are assembled in the U.S.A.

I had no idea that Kia is in the top 6 best car brands based on road test performance and reliability.

I had no idea they are in the top 3 in reliability according to Consumer Reports.

I had no idea they have been #1 in initial quality for two straight years according to J.D. Power.

Y’all, that’s just the basics. There is so much more that I learned when I actually got behind the wheel of the Stinger and the Sorento. Super classy, luxurious, and techie, these vehicles truly blew my expectations for the brand out of the water. I love a good underdog story, and I feel like Kia has a great one to tell. They were at the bottom, like the bottom of the bottom as far as car brands go, and just look at them now. I have only been in their “family” for a short time but I can’t help but burst with pride at how far they have come.

Now back to being an influencer. I tend to go off on tangents.

As I said, I have worked with a lot of brands over the years, and have been a part of a lot of different influencer programs. I have had some good experiences and some horrible experiences. I don’t talk much about it on the blog because I am a proper and classy southern lady, but I have had promises broken, contracts negated, and lies told to me by brands. It’s sad but true, and being taken advantage of is never fun. (especially when it’s online and you just want to reach through the screen and throat punch someone…Wait, what?) In the short time I have worked with this brand, I quickly learned that they truly treat everyone like family, and all of the Kia team I met are freaking amazing humans that I am lucky to call “my people.”

It truly is magic when a brand gets it right. Right with their influencers, and with their consumers. You guys, this brand has knocked both out of the park. I am one of those people that has had the same type of car since I was in college just because that was the “reliable brand” my family always bought. I never bothered to learn or explore any other options, and it’s a darn shame. For someone who thrives on reading and doing research for a living, I’m not really sure what I was thinking.

What I do know, is that I want my next car to be a Kia if at all possible. I am quite sentimental, and I tend to attach emotions and experiences to inanimate objects, and you bet I’m going to attach every little bit of amazing experience and emotion felt with my new Kia family to my next vehicle purchase. From the car karaoke, to the Krispy Kreme donuts and warm hospitality, I will remember it all.

Like I said, I’m quite the lucky girl to have gotten to work with a lot of brands on my dream list. It’s fun and a little surprising when one sneaks up on me and adds itself to my list without me even realizing it’s happening. That’s Kia for you. Stealing hearts, and being unforgettable. Keep it up y’all. You are doing an excellent job.

Kia is a brand that I never considered a dream brand to work with or purchase, but all that changed on an influencer trip to San Diego.

Ppsstttt: Are you heading to Mom 2.0? Kia will be there so MAKE SURE you go say hello. Tell them I sent you. I wish I was going, but unfortunately it’s not in the budget to fly across the country, especially when I have to save up for my new car. 😉

kia sorento

Disclosure: I was provided with flights, meals, and hotel accommodations for my trip to San Diego to experience Kia for myself, however all opinions are my own.

runDisney Star Wars Dark Side Challenge + a New Trailer

Happy Monday everyone! I am back from a crazy week of traveling just in time to share something exciting. (yes there MAY be an entire LARGE bookshelf of Star Wars books in my house, and I MAY be running the runDisney Star Wars dark side challenge in two weeks…so there’s lots of Star Wars love going on in my family!) Photo below from last year’s race:

Ok so I may or may not be slightly under trained…my longest run is 7 miles but I’m hoping to get in ten this weekend, but anyhow, I have something even more exciting than the race to share with you!

I wanted to show you the new trailer for Solo: A Star Wars Story, which opens in theaters everywhere on May 25th!

star wars

 

 

Check this out:

“Board the Millennium Falcon and journey to a galaxy far, far away in SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY, an all-new adventure with the most beloved scoundrel in the galaxy. Through a series of daring escapades deep within a dark and dangerous criminal underworld, Han Solo befriends his mighty future copilot Chewbacca and meets the notorious gambler Lando Calrissian, in a journey that will set the course of one of the Star Wars saga’s most unlikely heroes….The film stars Alden Ehrenreich, Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, Donald Glover, Thandie Newton, Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Paul Bettany.”

Woody Harrelson? Emilia Clarke? (My Game of Thrones heart can’t take it, yall!) I am pumped for this one.

star wars

Watch the official trailer below and tell me what you think. What is your favorite part? What are you most excited about in this movie?

PS: My husband claims if he can get a full Chewy outfit he will run in it with me in the race. Bless his little Star Wars loving heart. Enjoy!

Visit the official SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY site: http://www.starwars.com/films/solo

Emma Kate: 3.5 Years

Well we now have a child halfway to four years old, which blows my mind! on March 24th, Emma Kate turned three and a half and we baked a cake to celebrate and she LOVED it. I just wanted to take a moment to catch you up on our little girl.

Eating: Girlfriend LOVES to eat. She can still be pretty picky, but she loves large quantities of food, and I have grown to hate the word “snack”. She loves fruit like peaches and blueberries and strawberries, and also is a big yogurt fan. She even likes broccoli which is shocking to me. She eats a lot of turkey and chicken, and tries to get us to let her have candy whenever she can (all these holidays are killing me.) She still drinks a lot of water, and isn’t a huge fan of ice cream/cold stuff, but LOVES cupcakes!

Sleeping: We moved her to her “big girl bed” a couple weeks ago and she has been doing great and she loves it. She sleeps great and hasn’t fallen out (yet) and stays in her bed until we come get her in the mornings. Nap is hit or miss, if I let her sleep too long in the morning she won’t nap at school, but I would venture to say she sleeps for an hour 3-4 days a week at school and 85% of the time on the weekends. She goes to bed at 7:45 and usually lays there until about 8:00, and is up anywhere between 6-7 in the morning, but on school days I make sure she’s up at 6:30 so she will nap!

Clothing: She wears 4T and 5T now exclusively, and is quickly outgrowing several 4T things, which makes me so sad. She’s in a size 9 shoe but I feel that will be changing very soon as well.

Potty: She hasn’t had an accident in FOREVER, and has been dry for a week straight at night, and is always dry after nap. I think we are super close to not needing a pull up at night. She is doing awesome in this category!

Emma Kate says the funniest things and cracks us up on a daily basis. She loves to sing and dance, and has been watching movies like Aladdin, Trolls, Moana, The Incredibles, and Monsters Inc. She still loves big bows and lets me pick out her clothes most of the time (thankfully!)

She has been doing this thing where she doesn’t like when Bobby and I talk to each other so she will interrupt us and then she has nothing to say. it’s pretty annoying, any tips for breaking this habit?

She loves to have us sing with her at night int he rocking chair and she says her own little prayers which is so cute.

I don’t have an official height and weight but I’m thinking close to 40 pounds and 39 inches tall? I will have to measure her later!

We had our first trip to the ER on Easter Sunday, she jumped off the bed at Grammy and Papa’s house and hit her head on the rocking chair corner and there was blood everywhere and she had a deep gash, so she ended up with three staples. I nearly had a heart attack. She is fearless and independent and brave.

We switched schools at the end of 2017 and she is doing SO well at the new school because they have a pretty strict curriculum and I feel like she is learning so much. She recognizes most letters, counts to 20 something, and is writing with her little left hand.

She loves her “sister” Bella, wrestling with daddy, and putting together puzzles (shes REALLY good at puzzles!) We love you sweet bug and this has been such a fun half year!

5 Delicious Dishes To Try at the EPCOT International Flower and Garden Festival

Disclosure: I attended an event at Walt Disney World for the 25th anniversary of the flower and garden festival, however all opinions are my own.

The 25th anniversary of the EPCOT International Flower and Garden Festival is in full swing, and I was fortunate enough to get to taste some more delicious dishes at an event last week. (If you are not yet convinced you want to go to the festival check out my other post after reading this one!)

5 delicious dishes to try at Disney's EPCOT international flower and garden festival this year. So many outdoor kitchens for the 25th anniversary!

As I mentioned, this year marks the 25th year of the festival, and it was wonderful to get to hear from people who have been around since the beginning, and hear all about how the festival has changed over the years. Fun fact: Did you know that an artist used two cast members to “model” as Anna and Elsa in order to design the topiary for their characters? The poses we see are ones the girls came up with. How fun is that?!)

Ok, so let’s get down to business. Like I said, I had the opportunity to try more of the festival offerings at the outdoor kitchens, and these are my (and Bobby’s, he added in one!) collective favorites from our sampling at the event:

1.) Spicy hot dog with pineapple chutney and plantain chips from the Pineapple Promenade. This is a fun twist on an old favorite, but be warned, it is quite spicy, so if that is not your thing, you may want to skip this one. I do love how the chips gave it a nice crunch!

 

2.) Local wildflower honey-mascarpone cheesecake with orange blossom honey ice cream garnished with fennel pollen meringue kisses from The Honey Bee-Stro: This dessert was DELICIOUS and I may have had two. The cheesecake was so creamy and light, and the ice cream tasted amazing. I even loved the meringue kisses and I’m typically not a meringue kind of gal. Do not miss this one.

3.) Pulled pig slider with coleslaw from The Smokehouse: This was probably my favorite non-dessert food that I tried. It had excellent flavor, and don’t worry, you can get it without the coleslaw! 

4.) Spicy blackened shrimp and cheddar cheese grits with brown gravy and local sweet corn relish from Florida Fresh: This is one of Bobby’s contributions since I don’t eat seafood, but I did try the corn and grits with gravy and they were good! Bobby said the shrimp tasted fresh and we both said the corn/gravy had a little kick to it but it wasn’t unbearably spicy.

5.) House-made potato and cheddar cheese biscuit with smokes salmon tartare from Cider House: Another one that was all Bobby, but he said he enjoyed the mix of the flavors of the biscuit and the salmon together. I tried one of the biscuits and it was delicious enough just to eat by itself!

flower and garden

There are so many more things to taste at the outdoor kitchens, this is just a sampling. The flower and garden festival is bigger than ever and running longer than ever, and they have pulled out all the stops for the 25th anniversary. Be sure to make a visit before it’s gone May 28th. You can thank me later!

LEGOLAND Florida’s Newest Attraction: The Great LEGO Race

Disclosure: I attended a press event for the ride opening and was given four tickets to LEGOLAND Florida, however all opinions are my own.

I love theme parks and I love technology, so when the two are combined, you know I’m going to be excited about the possibilities! LEGOLAND Florida has come up with an amazing new ride concept called The Great LEGO Race, which is now open. “This ride combines roller coaster thrills with virtual reality (VR) technology to put guests in the center of an action-packed road rally where the laws of physics and aerodynamics only loosely apply” How fun is that?

 

Legoland Florida has a new ride, the great LEGO race, with virtual reality technology@

 

“Wearing optional VR headsets, riders will experience the action from every direction while riding the roller coaster – up, down, forward, backward and all points in between  in a dazzling environment where everything is made of LEGO bricks. Check out two of the screenshots from inside the race below.”

Check this out:

“The wild and wacky race pits guests against a LEGO pirate, wizard, surfer, trendsetter and pharaoh driving brick-built vehicles like a rocket-powered windsurfing rig, a stylish scooter fueled by espresso and an ornately canopied bed (called a “litter”) carried by mummy servants.”

On opening day, we got to see an adorable show followed by the ride being officially opened to the public. 

We even go to take photos with some of the heroes of the ride itself. Emma Kate was partial to the pirate, of course. She’s not quite tall enough to ride, but I know one day she will love it. 

Here are some “stats” on the ride itself:

-You must be 6 years old and at least 48 inches tall to wear the optional virtual reality headset.

-You must be 42 inches tall to ride, and must ride with someone at least 14 years old NOT wearing a VR headset for supervision purposes.

-headsets are cleaned in between each guest who rides

-It took 2 and a half years to develop this ride

-The ride is just shy of 400 meters in length

-You drop at speeds of 35 mph during your ride

Who are the LEGO minifigure competitors?

  • Pirate Captain; Team Pirate — He steers a dinghy with a turbine-powered sail.
  • Pharaoh; Team Pharaoh — He rides an ornate canopied bed (called a “litter”) carried by mummified servants.
  • Surfer Girl; Team Surfer — She rides a rocket-powered windsurfing rig.
  • Trendsetter; Team Trendy — She rides an espresso-fueled scooter with a sidecar for her tiny dog.
  • Wizard; Team Wizard — He drives a dragon-themed hot-rod.

 

Be sure to check out the LEGOLAND Florida website for more details.

 

 

Marvel Studios’ AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR Trailer

So I know I’m a few days late guys but GUESS WHAT? There is a new trailer out for Marvel Studios’ AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR! 

 

I cannot believe the opening date is sneaking up on us so quickly. (Opens everywhere April 27th!)

Ok so watch the trailer then see my takeaways below.

WOAH! So much packed into just a couple of minutes. In the trailer did you spot Hulk, Black Widow, Iron Patriot, Dr. Strange, Gamora, Iron Man, Spider-Man, Scarlet Witch, Vision, Captain America, Black Panther, Okoye, Shuri, Star-Lord, Drax, Rocket Raccoon, Thor, Groot and Loki? I love how there are going to be so many character interactions and relationships, it’s going to be a blast. I can’t wait to see everyone all in one place.

Did you know this is the  19th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe? So crazy and awesome at the same time.

Here is the premise: “Two years after the Avengers were torn apart during the events of Captain America: Civil War, Thanos arrives on Earth to collect the Infinity Stones for a gauntlet that will allow him to bend reality to his will. The Avengers must join forces with the Guardians of the Galaxy to stop him before his onslaught of destruction puts an end to the universe.”

Cannot. wait.

Be sure to follow Avengers on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook @avengers.

Tampa Lucky Run 5K Race Recap

On Saturday morning, I ran the Inaugural Tampa Lucky Run 5K.

Reasons I ran this race:

1.) Close to my house

2.) Holiday race

3.) Discount through Orange Theory and we had a “team” running

4.) I had been dying for a 5K PR and thought I was ready.

I really didn’t do much “research” on the race, but realized it may be a bit disorganized when the only thing we were told about packet pickup was that it was Friday at New Balance at the Outlet mall (race was also at the outlet mall). I emailed AND posted on Facebook asking if we could get our bibs Saturday morning…crickets. Finally the afternoon before the race I got an answer. Yes we could.

Saturday morning we had very unusual weather for Tampa, as in it was 46 when we got to the outlet mall! I wasn’t mad about it though, I much prefer running in the cold so I knew it made my chances better for a PR. We parked the car, and walked over to where everyone was gathered. I looked for a table to get my bib…and was told they hadn’t arrived yet. Apparently New Balance was supposed to bring them and they hadn’t shown up yet and were not answering their phones. #Fail. This is also when I learned this was an inaugural race. Dang it. I usually avoid those like the plague because of, well…this. I did feel bad for the race director though he was really trying to make the best out of the situation and was apologizing to everyone.

I took this waiting time to find the bathroom. One huge plus of the race was we had access to the “regular” (nice and clean) outlet mall bathrooms, yay!

So then the bibs came but they had no safety pins. I told Bobby I probably had some old ones in the car from past races and he went back to look. I guess this is the one time I can be happy my car is filthy and never gets cleaned out? So in the meantime they were duct taping bibs on to people. Duct tape. Bless it. About the time Bobby came back with four pins (he also told me I may get tetanus because they were very rusty and gross) pins arrived so no duct tape bib for me.

Then the race shirts arrived and it was a hot mess trying to get in line to get those. I had pre-registered so was waiting for my small and they couldn’t find any. About that time everyone was lining up and the race was about to start! I told Bobby to get my shirt and I ran over to the start line. I was frantically trying to untangle my headphones (shocker) and get my GPS to get satellite and it did just before the race started, so no time to warm up or stretch, but oh well.

Oh, one more thing. I had said that I didn’t really research the race (totally my fault) and as I was cursing my headphones in their huge wad of hatred and knots, I heard them say we were making two laps around the parking lot. Say what? This is what happens when Heather assumes. I assumed the race would run out on the road then maybe wind through the outdoor corridors where the shops are. Nope. We were literally running 3.1 miles in the mall parking lot. Two laps.

Not only was it two laps, but I would come to learn it was two laps full of very sharp cutting left turns up and down rows in the parking lot. My right knew is bad so I literally had to stop running and turn because I can’t twist my knee like that when running quickly so it messed up my cadence terribly. Again, totally my bad for not checking it out, but really? A parking lot?

Ok I can do this. I really wanted that PR. So I started out on the first lap with a goal of keeping my pace under 8:30. I stayed between 8:00 and 8:20 for the first mile and a half/lap. I however got a little discouraged going around doing the same thing AGAIN. When I got to about mile 2.5 I started to really struggle and I looked up and saw Bobby!

He didn’t have my child with him which was super confusing but I literally didn’t have the energy to ask him where she was so I just kept running. #MomofTheYear

I was however a little confused when I saw that my watch said 2.53 and I kind of calculated in my head where we were on the course, which was not that far from the finish. I thought oh well…math has never been my strong suit, so I pressed on, and turned the final corner and could see the finish line.

So my eyes are bad, but I knew I saw a 23 on the clock and knew something wasn’t right. I KNEW I had not run paces in the 7:00’s the whole time. It all (slowly) started to click that the course was short. NNNOOOO! I crossed at 23:47, and after recovering for a second saw that the course was about two tenths short. Sad times!

However, I did some quick calculations based on my average pace and what distance I needed to make it a 5K, and I still got a killer PR of 25:30! (Previous PR was 27:13)

Bobby and Emma Kate even missed me finishing because he had started a timer when I started running so he would know when to circle back to the finish to watch me, and he also knew I couldn’t run a 23:45. He was just starting to walk up when I crossed, hence why I have no finish line photos.

Oh, I also found out that Emma Kate was playing on the (within sight) mall playground when Bobby came out back to film me. Apparently she didn’t want to watch me run by so he just left her there (seriously he was like 100 feet away. I really don’t need hate emails about child neglect k thanks.) He even said “I thought you would ask where she was when you passed” and I told him I had no energy to even speak ha!

So while I love holiday races on cool mornings close to my house with good bathrooms that I get at a discount, I do NOT like running laps zig zagging around mall parking lots with duct taped bibs and late starts and no communication. Oy. They did try hard and I hope they now can do better next year. The money went to a good cause so I hope they don’t give up. Oh, and while I was running Bobby DID manage to snag me a shirt in the right size. So all was not lost. Heh. I am now the happy owner of a shiny new PR, and a funny experience to share with you all.