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. 😉

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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.

The Finish Line You Won’t Hear About

I had such an amazing time in California for the ASICS LA Marathon. When I think back over the whole weekend, I had the privilege of doing some pretty cool stuff. However, my absolute favorite part of the weekend is a part that you won’t heat about from your friends, or see in the newspaper. It’s not a glamorous part full of finishers photos and tons of spectators, but wow was it amazing. What I witnessed was so inspiring in so many ways, but probably not in the way you would think. The elite runners are awesome, don’t get me wrong, and many have wonderful stories of overcoming obstacles to get where they are. This is so similar in so many ways, yet very different. If you ever read one of my posts all the way through, I really hope you will read this one.

I mentioned in yesterday’s post that after my nap I found out through a friend that people were still finishing the race. After my walk down to the pier, I went back to the “finish line” to see what was going on for myself. What I found was nothing short of inspiring. Right where the finish line WAS (it had long since been taken down, the LA marathon kept it up for a really long time but understandably had to tear down at some point) there stood a few volunteers holding medals over on the sidewalk. Right past them you could see a table with some water on it manned by another volunteer. I stood back a ways for a couple of minutes to see exactly what was going on, and it didn’t take long for me to find out.

I suddenly heard clapping and cheers coming from one or two lone spectators, and also from the three volunteers handing out medals. I watched as off in the distance, on the sidewalk, a man wearing a race bib came limping along towards the makeshift finish line on the sidewalk. As he got to the volunteers, he fell into one of their arms and began to cry. They put a medal around his neck, were all patting him on the back, and walked him over to the water table, congratulating him. I watched in awe as every 3-4 minutes, another athlete came “down the shoot” and the same thing played out with the volunteers. This is not the first time I have gone back to the end of a race after I was done to cheer on the remaining few, but this was by far my favorite time.

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One of the finishers coming through on the sidewalk

Tears filled my eyes as I watched each person come struggling through to the finish. Some in pairs, some being held up by someone else, and an amazing older gentleman who walked the whole race with his walker. He was a legacy runner! I couldn’t help myself. I jumped onto the sidewalk and began clapping, cheering, screaming, and jumping up and down as each person came by me. They showed such perseverance, and such pride. Not a single one was mad that they didn’t get to go through the official finish line, they were just grateful t hat someone, anyone, was there to share in their joy.

There were tons of people walking around and past us on the sidewalk, just walking their dog or taking a stroll with a loved one. Some moved over to the grass, watching what was happening, others going about their day oblivious to what they were witnessing.

I chatted with the volunteers in between finishers, and they were so amazing. They were adamant that every finisher get the medal that they deserved. By this time, people had been on the course for around ELEVEN HOURS, and these volunteers had been out there all day. They could have so easily said that their shift was over when the finish line came down and the computers were turned off, but they stayed, as did the amazing bike volunteers. They would periodically come back and tell us how many people were left on the course. They too had been volunteering all day.

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Since they had not been out on the course, I was explaining to the volunteers just how hot and miserable it was, and how the spectators got me through my race. I told them how these last few finishers didn’t have that luxury, and were basically on their own. I also told them how wonderful I thought it was that they were still here, and they humbly waved me off saying it was just the right thing to do.

I stayed for about 45 minutes cheering, crying, and smiling with the others. At one point, a woman came in, followed a few minutes later by another woman. I’m not sure if they knew each other before the race or met on the course, but they hugged in a tear filled embrace as one told the other “we did it, we did it. If we can do this, then we can do ANYTHING!” That my friends is when I lost it. I wanted so badly to run up and hug them as well, and tell them yes, YES you can my sisters! I refrained though, and just nodded my head vigorously at that powerful statement.

I watched another man come through with a friend of his I assume, and one was helping the other to stand. He literally was about to collapse, but never gave up. I saw families reunited, pictures taken, and so much grit and determination in those 45 minutes that afternoon. The volunteers were inspiring because of their loving spirits and giving attitudes. The athletes were inspiring because of their perseverance and strength. at that moment, everything I had went through that morning just didn’t matter. Yes I had struggled, I had overcome obstacles to get to the starting line, but in this moment my race troubles felt so insignificant compared to the what I was surrounded by.

I sadly had to leave sooner than I wanted to get to dinner with the ASICS crew, but I will never forget what I saw that day. The strength and determination in those final finishers, and the love and encouragement of the volunteers will not soon fade from my memory. You won’t see finishing times for those athletes. They will never have an official record of their accomplishment, but I can promise you they were there. With huge smiles, tear stained faces, and weary bodies they came…and I have never been so inspired.

QOTD: Have you ever spectated at a race? Have you ever been inspired by a finisher?

Running Skirts Sales Summit Day 2

 

Mmooorrrrnnniiinnnggg! catching up from the weekend?

Running Skirts Sales Summit

The Disney Dream part 1

Happy Father’s Day 2011

I hope everyone had a fab weekend! I will have pictures from Father’s Day up tomorrow. We had a great time at my parents house. My dad liked his gifts. Smile

Ok, so, we were discussing the Running Skirts sales summit. We woke up on day 2, and all went for a morning run by the ocean. It was so beautiful, nice and cool outside, no humidity. LOVE THIS WEATHER!

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Paige and I on our balcony before the run

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my knee/IT band was giving me fits. I played sand volleyball twice on Castaway Cay on the cruise, and it had been hurting me since then. I ended up walking for part of the run. I felt bad slowing everyone down, but didn’t really have a choice.

We ran into a guy putting his surfboard into his car, and asked it we could take a picture.

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I couldn’t get over the gorgeous scenery.

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We covered somewhere between 4 and 5 miles, and then were dropped off back at the hotel to shower and get ready for some training.

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next skirt outfit. Smile

We had a great day of training and I learned a lot, and then that afternoon we were sent off to the spa to enjoy some relaxation time. You weren’t supposed to take pictures, but I snuck a couple.

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the spa was so awesome. It had indoor and outdoor Jacuzzis, a heated outdoor pool, sauna, steam room, relaxation room, room with fireplace, it was so awesome.

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see the big balcony on the second floor? That is our suite. Smile

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beautiful flowers. everywhere. smelled. wonderful.

That night we went to a cute place on the water called Jake’s for drinks before we went to dinner. Sadly, June gloom had set in.

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but we still had a great time!

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after drinks, we went to a Mexican place in Del Mar for dinner. It was so yummy! Loved it!

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Good times were had by all, and I was so sad we had to leave the next day! Here are a couple other pictures I took of the resort the morning we left.

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the awesome bathroom in our room

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Wednesday morning we were all sadly brought to the airport to begin our journey home. I know the trip seemed so condensed in these posts but there was so much going on, I had such a great first visit to California and hope I get to go back soon!

California Fun Part 2

 

Ok so we left off after a fun filled night at downtown Disney in California. Oh wait, did you miss part one? check it out HERE. Ok, moving on. So Sunday the weather was equally beautiful. I woke up wide awake at 6:00, even got up and did some things on the computer and called Bobby. Then I realized I was still sleepy and fell asleep again. Time zone fail.

Me, Crystal, and Kenji went to lunch at this cute little place by her house, and then we decided to go for a nice walk. I was still hurting from some pulled muscles and pain from playing volleyball on Castaway Cay, so we decided to walk, instead of run.

We set out to find some newish trails by Crystal’s house. We found them, and some fun parks/scenery too!

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Gorgeous weather, gorgeous landscaping, I was having a great time! We just talked and talked, and then we stumbled upon this little gym. It was like a circled track/spongy material right off the trail, and every few yards was a piece of outdoor workout equipment. Of course, I wanted to be silly and try them all out!

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of course I made Crystal try some, too. I laughed pretty hard when she got on the pull up bar and her feet didn’t touch the ground!

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hehe.

We finally decided to turn around and realized we were a LONG way from her house! We ended up walking for TWO HOURS. Of course, Kenji fell asleep when we were FIVE MINUTES from the house! Crazy kid.

We dipped our feet in the pool after the walk to cool off.

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I wasn’t really starving because I had a big lunch, so we decided to grab a pizza and I just ate Fro Yo for dinner, no pizza. HA! I can do that, right? I got a mix of pomegranate and watermelon YUM.

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I was SO tired from the walk and still wacky from the time difference, so I decided to go to bed early. We had a 4:00 wake up call! I called Bobby then crawled in bed at 8:15. it was still daylight! I can’t remember the last time I did that! But guess what? I slept ALL night until my alarm went off at 4!

Crystal was so sweet to offer to drive me to Union Station so early in the morning. a true friend! We got me there about 5:15 for the 6:00 train to San Diego. Now, I will admit I was a little nervous. One of my fears is going somewhere that I have NO idea where I am going. I have never even BEEN on an Amtrak train before, or at a station like this, so I was totally clueless. Plus it was pitch black dark when I got there, so I was slightly nervous.

I walk in, and within 5 seconds a homeless man approaches me and starts asking me for money. I told him no, sorry, and started to walk away and he FOLLOWED me and kept asking. I headed for the ticket counter where a man was working and finally the dude walked off. GAH! Just what I needed when I was already freaked out! So I pulled out my ticket I was supposed to scan at the kiosk and surprise surprise, it doesn’t work. So I go to the ticketing counter, which ended up being a good thing, because the man told me where I needed to go, but said the train doesn’t board till 5:50. Ok…so…I didn’t know if I was supposed to head that way, or wait in the main area…I was so clueless! (ok please stop laughing!) so I stood around for a few minutes in the main area and just watched to see what everyone else was doing.

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I thought about going to Starbucks but the line was really long. I had a major headache from not having coffee, but decided to just deal with it for now.

Finally at about 6:40, I decided to start walking down the tunnel towards my platform just to see. I got down to my number, looked up the tunnel and realized it was COLD! I did not want to go stand on the platform. Alone. in the dark. and freeze. SO I stood around outside the tunnel for a few minutes until I saw a couple people going up and to the platform, so I followed them.

We stood around outside, and I even had a guy ask me if this is the train to San Diego. I told him yes, I thought so, but what I wanted to say was “does it LOOK LIKE I know if this is the train to San Diego?!”

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looking back down into the tunnel. Sorry my ticket got in the way.

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I tied to be sneaky and take a picture of the train without looking like a tourist, sorry it’s blurry!

Ok, so, train is here, doors open, and people start getting on, and heading upstairs, so I follow. (Such a sheep today!) I followed the few people into the first car we got onto, and sat on the last row after putting my suitcase on the rack at the back. Luckily, there were not many people so no one sat next to me the whole way. Here are a few pics I took of us leaving Los Angeles. Let me just say I was so relieved to finally make it onto the train, I knew the rest would be smooth sailing!

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It was a 3 hour train ride which I thought would be so boring, but the scenery was great, that and I slept on and off the whole time!

When we got closer to San Diego we went along the coast/ocean, and it was so beautiful! I was of course sitting on the WRONG side of the train to see it.  But I did get some houses up on the cliffs. it was crazy to me how they were just sitting on the edge! Sorry the quality is bad…cell phone camera against a window with the sun coming up!

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Here is one I took of the inside of the train

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We finally made it to the last stop, San Diego! When we got off, there was another train right in front of me, and people were going both ways around it. um…so I asked the lady where I should go if someone is picking me up and she directed me in front of the other train inside the station. By the way, as soon as I stepped off…the weather, SO PERFECT! Breezy, sunny, about 68 degrees! I made it into the station, texted the Running skirts twins that I was there. They said they would be about 20 minutes, so I got a cup of coffee and sat down and enjoyed the pretty station and day! (I felt much better after my coffee!)

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On my next California post…picked up by the twins, meeting the other reps, and getting spoiled rotten!

QOTD: Do you get nervous going somewhere you have never been before?

California Fun

 

It’s MONDAY! not just any Monday, but Monday the 13th which means one month from the best day of the year, my birthday!!! wow!

Here is a quick weekend recap in case you were away:

Friday I posted the beginning of our Disney trip

Saturday, I announced I was going to Healthy Living Summit and revealed I had made the cover of a real estate magazine in our paper.

Sunday, I told you about our new gym and lazy weekend.

Whew! Ok, so as promised, I am flip-flopping between telling you about our vacation, and telling you about my California trip. So, this is how CrAzY things were….that Friday we drove home from Orlando aaalllll day and got back to our house around 5:00 or so. I threw a load of clothes in the wash, repacked, said goodbye to Bobby, and drove the little over an hour drive to my parents house. I was already so exhausted and I hadn’t even left yet!

I went to bed early, I had to get up a little after 5 am so my mom could drive me the 40 minutes or so to the New Orleans airport. My flight was on time for 7:30 am. We took off, and I slept on and off until we landed in Denver. Honestly, I was in so many airports I don’t remember much about this one! I just remember getting some lunch, finally figuring out the WiFi, and posting THIS. I got on my second plane of the day after a gate change, and finally landed in CALIFORNIA!

I stepped outside and what’s this? Mountains!

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The fabulous Crystal and baby Kenji picked me up from the airport and it was a beautiful day! I kept taking pictures of the mountains, we don’t have this on the MS gulf coast, y’all!

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My mom had texted me earlier that day to tell me I had left my swimsuit at her house, GAH! So crystal was sweet enough to swing me by Target to pick up another one. We decided to do something kind of  “California-y” for lunch, so we stopped my In N Out burger! (I know I posted this before, but you get to see a little bit of it again!)

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We then went to Crystal’s house so I could settle in, and we just hung out and relaxed for a bit. I thought it was so cool you could see mountains from her backyard! After trying to figure out what to do, we decided to drive to Disneyland and go to downtown Disney and walk around, and eat at Storyteller’s Café at the Grand Californian hotel. I have never been to Disneyland, and of course next time will have to get tino the parks, but it was still just fun to BE there, and see the hotels, etc.

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It was interesting to see how different Disneyland’s layout is to Disneyworld.

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Paradise Pier Hotel

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Grand Californian

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Downtown Disney, heading to the Grand Californian

When we got into the hotel, there was a bridal party lined up about to go into a room for the reception. It was so cool, they all had balloons made into things and were wearing them as hats, etc. The Bride even had a balloon “carriage” so of course I took pictures.

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So fun!!! We walked through the lobby…

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it reminded me a lot of the Wilderness Lodge in Disneyworld.

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we made it to the restaurant!

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looking out opposite the restaurant

This is a great time to bring up something…it was COLD outside! and not humid! I was loving this weather! It was a really cute restaurant, with a plated or buffet option. Of course, we opted for the buffet. The food was really good and very plentiful. I enjoyed the meal, and Kenji was quite entertaining.

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After dinner, we walked around in the World of Disney, and I got a Disneyland mug.

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I even asked a random guy to take a picture of us.

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funny man Kenji was such a trooper

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as we were leaving, we could see fireworks over the stores!

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I was so exhausted, it was 10:00, but my body thought it was 1:00 since I had been in Florida all week. I was zonked from the time change, and jet lag. I slept so good that night, and I usually don’t sleep well in new places!

Ok I will save the rest for the next California post. Smile coming up in that post you will see some interesting outdoor workout equipment and my journey to San Diego, which was QUITE scary for this girl!

QOTD: Do you prefer Disneyland or Disneyworld?

Time Zone Madness

 

Hello from Houston! Can I just say I am EXHAUSTED! I had a FABULOUS time in California, but I am ready to be home with my family and out of airports, train stations, and cars. My body is so confused on what time it is, should be, etc.

This morning the sales reps enjoyed a relaxing breakfast before heading to the airport. My flight out of San Diego left at 11:20.

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I had a snack while I waited to board.

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It was so sad to say goodbye to all my new Running Skirts family. I know I will see them soon though! The flight was fine, a little bumpy on the descent, but I survived. Now, I am sitting in the Houston airport for my 3 hour layover before I can board a plane to NOLA.

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My mom is picking me up, and I am staying at their house tonight, and then tomorrow, FINALLY, I get to go home tomorrow morning and see my puppies! (and my husband of course.) I am so ready to see my girls. 16 days is way too long. I don’t know how some people do it.

I can’t wait to get home and sleep, and then share all of my pictures not only from California and all the Running Skirts fun, but from my cruise! I know it sounds weird but I almost FORGOT I went on a cruise before all of this madness! So, please stay with me, thank you for your patience and support! I promise you lots of stories and pictures from Disney and Running Skirts!