Thursday, April 26, 2012

Kitchen Command Center ... Behind the Scenes

After over a year I'm finally sharing how the heck my Menu Board, Dry-Erase Board and Chore Charts are hanging in my Kitchen Command Center!  I've received dozens of emails and comments asking how, so I figured it was time to actually make a post about it!  Are you ready? .......

Not a single nail hole involved!  For the Menu Board and Dry Erase Board, I used the "Command Saw-Tooth Picture Hanger".  This size will hold up to 5lbs!

 For the Chore Charts, I used the "3M Command Picture Hanging Strips".  Seriously, these suckers are awesome and I use them all over the house ...

You can find these at just about any shopping center like Target or Walmart ... even home improvements like Lowes or Home Depot. 

I hope this helps you get one step closer to creating a Command Center for your home ... happy shopping!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

It Was More Than Just A Green Sweater ...

This morning in an attempt to dress myself, I pulled my favorite green sweater from the dryer ... it was a shrunken mess. My initial feelings of thankfulness to my husband for throwing in a load of laundry turned to anger. My anger will pass in a few hours (I really do have an awesome husband) but I'm actually crying over this. You see, it was more than just a green sweater ...

I am stuck with a post-partum body that I hate and have yet to accept. By post-partum ... I mean 4 years! When I became pregnant with our son, I was 5 foot 3 inches and weighed 104 lbs. I just came off a peak-season dancing in multiple parades at Disney ... I was fit and trim. I easily maintained a weight of 99-106 for the last 5 years with little effort ... it was easy to do when you dance full time and sweat excessively during "character sets". Dancing as a high-kicking Candy Cane Maid does wonders for your legs! Despite dancing through my first 6-months of pregnancy and throwing up after parades from morning sickness ... I still managed to gain 78 official (81 unofficial) lbs by the time I gave birth. My OB assured me it what my body needed to do.

Long story short, 16-months post-partum I had managed to get down to 115 and was starting to feel comfortable with my body again ... then I endured a series of health issues that to this day have kept me out of the gym, out of the dance studio, and off the running track. We all know it takes diet and exercise to lose and manage weight ... for the last 2+ years, I've simply been down to "diet" and well ... let's not start on that.

So here I am, 4+ years post-partum and though family and friends say ... "you still look good" ... I still don't feel like "me".

So what about this green sweater?

I can probably count on one hand the number of days in my life that I have felt beautiful ... especially post-partum. In fact, I will never forget the evening 17 years ago on the eve of my high-school graduation when a family friend welcomed my family to the wedding reception of her son. There I was with my mousy-brown hair and acne covered face standing next to my blue eyed, blonde haired, fair skinned older sister. The mother of the groom looked at my sister and said, "You are so beautiful!" and then turned to me and said, "Don't you wish you looked like your sister?". I think the look of horror on my mothers face was worse than the look on mine. The only other thing I remember about that evening was my mom promptly taking me home ... because she knew the happy exterior I always showed was simply a cover for a very self-conscience little girl.

Back to that green sweater ....

I rarely shop for myself because I hate what I see looking back at me in the dressing room mirror. I don't know how to dress this body yet. A few months ago I dared try on an outfit ... just a little green sweater that I wear over a simple white shirt. Who new that something so simple (and at only 14 euro) would make me feel pretty ... even if it's only on the day I wear it. In that sweater, I felt a little bit like "me" again and carried a hope that one day I would find beauty in my body, whether it's at 106 lbs and trim or 120 with a little extra padding.

So, my little green sweater ... I bid you a fond farewell and I thank you for giving me a few moments of beauty.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Skiing the Alps

First, let's celebrate the fact that I'm writing this post in the SAME month we took this trip! Hooray! Off to a great start this year! *applaud* Thanks!

This is our first family adventure of the year ... a ski holiday in Kaprun, Austria. It was somewhat of a last-minute trip. On the 1st of Jan we said, "Hey! Let's take a family ski trip together!" and teamed up with our friends, the Wagner's for a family ski trip to Austria. We spent the next week researching family-friendly ski locations and hotels and settled on Hotel Rudolfshof Vitality in Kaprun. Two weeks later, we were there! The hotel is a family-run hotel that included full-board (breakfast, lunch, late-afternoon snack, and dinner) plus a free Kids Club run by a great team of girls that had experience as "au-pairs". We enjoyed great food, drinks, great company, the adult sauna (sans kiddos), snowboarding, skiing with the kiddos ... plenty of family time balanced with quiet adult time. It was perfect. Though I must say, by the time we started to relax it was time to depart ... 4 nights/3 days isn't long enough.

Our highlight of the trip was skiing with Kelty for the first time. He's 4, and as most 4-years olds are ... he's fearless! From 9:30 - 11:30 on our first two days, Kelty enjoyed ski school while Al and I brushed up on our snowboarding skills with an instructor. After our schools, we hopped back to the hotel for lunch then back to the bunny slopes for an afternoon of skiing with Kelty until 4:30. Then we'd hit the late-afternoon snack at the hotel followed by some time in the Kids Club for Kelty and sauna/spa time for the adults. After some downtime we'd hit the pool with Kelty and then rendevous with the Wagner's for dinner. By the second night, we had found our groove and let the kids eat first at dinner then drop them off at the Kids Club while the adults finished their dinner and drinks at a more leisurely pace. :)

Daddy and Kelty on the bunny slopes.

By the second day, Kelty was riding the bunny lift by himself. It was awesome to watch him ... so confident, so fearless, and so happy!

Taking a breather with Daddy ...

... and a breather with mommy.

Kelty, done with ski school. Is there anything cuter than toddlers on ski's?

Al and I were able to hit the larger slopes on Kitzeinhorn Glacier ... the view was stunning. We decided to use our snowblades versus snowboards because truthfully, I was tired of falling. :)

We hit the Ice Bar on the glacier. It's an igloo!

We took a break enjoyed a gluhwein.

The last photo of our time on the slopes ... a group shot with the Wagner's. As always, we had a fantastic time together! We were the last family on the slopes this day ... you know what was nice ... we could actually just ski right down to our hotel. Let's get one more "awesome" in this post.

Friday, January 6, 2012

2011 Year in Review

It was a great year, a busy year ... but truth be told, I spent most of it feeling a bit overwhelmed and disorganized and trying to find some balance. At one point something had to give and unfortunately is was my blog(s). I regret this decision, as now I struggle to remember all of the wonderful things we did as a family this year ... granted, I remember the big moments ... but I failed at documenting the little moments that are just as precious and sometimes of greater impact. After this "Year in Review" I officially consider my blog current and I can start blogging for today instead of trying to capture what happened in our lives months prior. It's a tremendous weight off my shoulders! So let's get started, our life in 2011 ....


Following our Christmas in Michigan with my family, Kelty and I stayed through mid-January. Kelty loved every minute with his Papa, Nana, Aunt Ca-Ca, and his cousins ... and so did I. Kelty has since removed the photos of his cousins from our family tree and keeps them on his nightstand. I also left Kelty in the care of my sister and parents and traveled to Florida for a few days to work at Disney and keep my show approvals in Fantastmic.


After almost a month in the states, we spent February re-acclimating to Germany. Kelty also became quite the little helper.


Spring arrived! We spent a lot of time outdoors soaking in the sun we desperately missed during the winter months. Kelty gained a new level of independence at the playground ... graduating to the "big boy" equipment. We also started a new tradition of stopping to cut fresh flowers together after school. Kelty continued with his speech therapy and we started the referral process for Kelty to be seen at Center for Communication Enhancement at Children's Hospital Boston.


April marked our first big vacation of the year, Greece! We spent a day in Athens followed by several days on Crete. Al and I also enjoyed our first Weinprobe with some great friends ... it was quite the experience and one never to be forgotten. Along with some amazing wine, we dined on delicacies like Emu and duck ... there was a lot of wine involved ... which is pretty much the only reason the Emu made it passed my lips.


We traveled back the states in May to celebrate my brother-in-law's graduation from medical school where we spent one amazing week in Vermont with Al's family. Immediately following, we drove to Boston for a week-long series of appointments at the Center for Communication Enhancement at Children's Hospital Boston where Kelty received training on an augmentative communication device to assist with his Apraxia of Speech.


Al and I celebrated our birthdays. I started a new Reserve job as a staff officer. We took a day-trip to Strasbourg, France and despite a rough start we had a nice visit. We enjoyed our villages festival, to include a parade and 2-mile walk into the woods to continue the celebration. Al also took a "guys trip" and spent a weekend hiking the Swiss Alps (unfortunately the hiking photos are MIA just like the month of Jan).


Norway! ... or as Kelty calls it, "my Norway". We spent an amazing week in and around Flam ... one of our most memorable trips thus far.


We did a lot of biking in August and Kelty continued to show his independence. Our family bike rides have gone from Kelty in a bike seat, to Kelty riding a tricycle and mom/dad walking, to Kelty riding a bike with training wheels and mom/dad riding along. Our longest ride this summer was during an autofrei day where Kelty rode his bike over 4 miles. Kelty also started soccer camp ... he loved it, but spent a considerable amount of time picking flowers on the field and bringing them to me. :)


Kelty started Pre-School/Pre-K! We also welcomed fall by enjoying our annual visit to the pumpkin festival at Hitscherhoff where we dined on pumpkin bratwurst and pumpkin soup. Al started a 6-month deployment ... fortunately to another base in Germany so we are able to see him on his days off. Poor little Pogo (our 13 year-old chihuahua) was diagnosed with diabetes and our routine now includes blood monitoring and insulin injections.


Kelty started riding lessons at a nearby horse farm in late October, he loves his "yee-haw". We finally found our groove with Al coming and going, despite a difficult start and a lot of stress over Pogo's health. Somewhere between Sept and Oct Kelty became addicted to Star Wars, despite having never seen the movies or the cartoon ... I blame it on the toy store.


Gearing up for winter! We spent several evenings with our German neighbors learning to cook traditional foods like Dampfnudels with Vanilla Wine Sauce and enjoying gluhwein, in return we had them over to enjoy our traditional Thanksgiving dinner.


Kelty turned 4 and we celebrated with a Star Wars Jedi party! This also marked the age where Kelty was allowed to rock climb at the indoor climbing wall on base. We stayed in Germany for Christmas this year since Al could not take leave. It was a quiet Christmas with just the 3 of us but it was still a perfectly wonderful. We visited a few nearby Christmas markets and anxiously awaited snow ... which is still yet to come!

... and that's a wrap on 2011!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Norway ... In A Nutshell

A long time ago .....

One of our big vacations this summer (ahem, yes I'm THAT far behind) was to Norway! After a lot of discussion about traveling through Norway versus basing our travels out of one location ... we settled on basing our adventures out of Flam, which is nestled in the innermost part of the Aurlandsfjord. We don't regret that decision for a moment! This trip was the perfect balance between relaxation and exploration ... it's exactly what we needed.

In a nutshell. 1) Norway is the most picturesque place I have EVER seen ... I will run the risk of sounding like a complete dork and tell you that the scenery and its enormity pretty much moved me to tears. Really ... it's THAT amazing. 2) Norway is the MOST expensive place we have traveled. Whoa! To offset the cost of the trip, we knew we'd be packing our lunches and skimping on meals ... I swear, it's 3 months post-Norway and I still cannot stomach a peanut butter sandwich. Thankfully our hotel stay included breakfast ... we completely gorged ourselves every morning, packed a PB sandwich for our lunch and bought the cheapest food we could find for dinner. How expensive could it be? Converting the currency to U.S. dollar ... a personal pizza was $50 - $65, a bowl of soup was $18 - $22, a hamburger was $30+ ... and we're not talking sit-down restaurants! I'm talking little quick-service establishments! 3) Did I mention Norway is simply breathtaking?

So. We flew into Oslo late on a Friday night, picked up our rental car, and drove about an hour out of Oslo to our first hotel. The next morning we hopped on the road to drive to our destination, Flam. We based all of our activities out of Flam, a tiny little village that happens to be a cruise ship destination. Each morning we enjoyed watching a new cruise ship dock and each afternoon after the ship left and we enjoyed the peace and view of the fjords. It's as if we had the village to ourselves. It was perfect ....

A view through the fjords towards Flam ...

Grass roofs ...

Loved this. Red homes and buildings were pretty popular, it was completely stunning amongst all of the green. This little roof even had a clump of trees growing on top ...

We stopped frequently along the route between Oslo and Flam to capture photos. We had all the time we needed ....

Kelty absolutely loved Norway. In fact, he still calls it "my Norway" and has requested to go back. We spent all of our time outdoors ... I can see why he loved it!

Flam! Busy during the day and quiet in the evenings ...

Flam is home to the "Flamsbana" (Flam Railway). Every day we watched the train depart for a trip that is claimed to be the most beautiful in the world ...

A view of our accomodations, Flamsbrygga Hotel. I sat on the deck every morning, afternoon, and evening while sipping coffee. Perfect ...

Look at the reflection!

Our first day we took a boat trip up the Naeroyfjord to Gudvangen. It was stunning! The waterfalls that dominate this region are spectacular ...

So picturesque ...

Kelty was SO happy ...

I love this. A couple was sitting outside their home ... simply enjoying their view. The husband was "people watching" as the wife knitted.

We cruised by this beautiful piece of land ... Al and I both fell in love with it. If only we could find a piece of property like this to build our retirement home on! You can see the sheep grazing and a little boat pulled ashore (bottom right). sigh.

After we reached our destination, we explored for about an hour until we caught the bus back to Flam.

This makes me smile ...
The next day, we visited the Hopperstad Stave Church which was built in the early 1100's. Stave Churches are Norway's oldest surviving churches ... we were able to see a few throughout our trip, but this is the particular church we took the time to explore.

The wood is covered in tar ...

Ketly enjoyed everything about it ...

Later in the week we decided to hike to a nearby waterfall ...The start of our journey. You can see the waterfall waaaaayyyy in the background.

I forgot to mention that it had been raining ALL week and we were warned it was going to be a difficult and messy hike. It was!

We made it! We were completely wiped out but it was gorgeous and Kelty was so proud!
This was taken after I busted my butt ... you can see the mud and the deep imprints our shoes made. It took us a few hours to hike there and back but it was one of our most memorable family hikes.

We took an afternoon and drove the "snow road". It's a 30-mile scenic drive which eventually took us to the Stegastein viewpont. The views were breathtaking. Along the drive (and most of our driving excursions in the area) we always saw little rock towers .... Al stopped to make a contribution of his own.Stegastein Viewpont

Our last big excursion was a hike to Jostedalen Glacier. We drove to the national park (which ended up requiring us to board a ferry ... Kelty was REALLY excited to ride the "car boat").

From the car park area, we hiked about an hour to the face of the glacier. This is where I had a tough time capturing the grandeur of Norway. This was HUGE! Can you see the hikers on the glacier ... it will give you a little perspective of the size.

This is one of my favorite photos. Daddy and Kelty taking a break along our hike to the glacier ...

It's blue!

A family photo! The only one we have of the three of us!

On our last full day, we drove the tiny nearby town of Undredal ... which apparently has a population of about 75 people and 400 goats. It's also famous for a unique brown goat cheese ... which was so unique, we opted not to buy after tasting. :o)

We were a little disappointed not to run into any goats while we were walking through the town .... well, we found them all on our way out!

During our time in Flam, Kelty's favorite past time was climbing rocks ...

and that's a wrap on Norway!
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