Last-Time Kindergarten Mom

It seems that much of the country goes “back to school” long before us. Weeks ago, my Facebook feed was inundated with first day pics, pretty Pinterest-inspired teacher gifts,  and this blog post was shared several times over.

It was lovely, very well-written, and I may have shed a tear or twenty. But…BUT…what about me?

This is not my first time at the rodeo. I dropped my first-born off at kindergarten three years ago, and it was terrible. He was so little. (Think I’m kidding? I had to buy size 3 pants for his school uniforms.) He was so scared – when we told him he’d be staying at school all day, he took that completely literally. The poor little guy thought he’d never get to play with his toys or sleep in his bed again. I’m so thankful we figured out the problem before he cried himself to sleep the night before school started. Even the dog stood staring out the front window all day long, trying to figure out where his boy had gone.

Even though I left a piece of my heart at the elementary school that day, I still got to bring another little piece back home with me. I still had a little companion to take care of, to take shopping, to feed, to pick up after, and to talk to.

School starts in just two days, and this time, I’m dropping my last baby off at kindergarten. And this, my friends, THIS is already harder.

I’ve put a brave face on it, talking about how great it will be to go grocery shopping alone, how wonderful it will be that I can clean the house without a tiny tornado destroying everything right behind me, how much I will be able to accomplish in those six blissful hours that I will be alone every day.

But if I’m honest, it’s me who is completely terrified this time. I’m closing the door on a big chapter in my life. Yes, life with babies, toddlers, and preschoolers is challenging, but it’s all I’ve known for the last eight years. And I have loved it. Preschoolers are just about my favorite thing in this whole world. Short of a big OOPS!, I will never hold a baby of my own again, and this is the last time I’ll walk one to their first day of kindergarten.

I’m not as worried about my little one this time around. Kindergarten teachers are special people, y’all. I am pretty sure God hand-picks them. I know my girl will be well cared for. And she’s ready. Boy, is she ready. I gave her a taste of freedom this summer – letting her run and play outside without hovering over her every move. She has loved every minute of it. It’s bittersweet, seeing that she doesn’t really need me all the time anymore.

I’m anxious and excited to see what this next chapter of motherhood is like and how having TWO elementary school kids looks at our house. But if you see me on Wednesday, it’s probably best to silently give me a hug or pass me a tissue. I can already tell you how I’ll be doing, and it won’t be pretty.

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North Dakota Sunflowers

A little something a didn’t know about before I moved to North Dakota? The sunflowers. There are fields and fields of them all around us in this part of the state. I can’t actually tell you about everywhere else, as I haven’t left Minot since June. But here, you can’t drive anywhere without seeing them right now. They are beautiful.

I mean, I knew sunflowers are beautiful. I’ve seen a few of them here and there in my lifetime, but I had no idea how incredible it is to see an entire field of them. The kids and I finally went out and find some to take photos of yesterday. When we started out, I was afraid we wouldn’t have much luck. The first few fields we visited, the flowers were already looking droopy and sad.

Not to worry. We found some good sunflowers before it all was said and done.

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Oh, look! There’s an adorable little girl out there, too!

Frolicking in sunflowers isn’t for you if you are afraid of bees. They’re everywhere!

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There are no pictures of the boy. He didn’t want to get out of the car.

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I’m glad I remembered to bring my LensBaby. This photo is my favorite. That isn’t a filter – the lens actually bends the light to make the image blurry. It’s so cool!

Now that we’ve seen the sunflowers up close and personal, my summer 2014 bucket list is complete. School, you may commence. In a week.

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Eleven Days of Summer

Ferris WheelSummer. It wasn’t that long ago that I sat in this very spot, wondering how on earth we’d fill such an expanse of time. Now, there are only eleven days left until school begins again.

We have had a good summer, filling our days by playing outside, riding bikes, making new friends, swimming (but not much, since we’ve had pretty mild weather), sharing picnics, eating LOTS of popsicles, traveling (a little), going to the fair, eating s’mores, enjoying fire pit evenings with friends, and many more “summer things” than I can list. Summer things are more special to us now, since so much of the year, we’re confined indoors doing winter things.

The beginning of school will soon usher in fall. Pumpkins and football will transition us into cold, snow, and wooly socks. Hot cocoa will replace our popsicles. Snow pants and sweaters will replace our shorts and swim suits. Sooner than I would like, if I’m honest.

For now, I have eleven days to cram full of wonderful summer things. We still need to find a field of sunflowers to frolic in. We may need to eat another box of popsicles, too.

And Ellen, just in case you’re reading…SPRINKLE!

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I fell off the wagon.

OK, so I didn’t completely fall off. I haven’t quit running altogether. But that training program I chose for November? It was pretty ambitious, especially for someone who practically took a running hiatus all winter. I am officially switching to the “finish in the upright position” plan. Time improvement. Ha! What was I thinking?

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I am not, however, ashamed of my mileage for July. Don’t make fun of me. Yes, I still use a paper calendar. I need visual reminders of what I’ve got going on, without having to get into my phone or computer. I started writing my mileage for the day in a bright yellow highlighter so I could see how well/horribly I’m doing. 42 miles, y’all. Not too shabby.

I haven’t done a long run over 6 miles yet. On the old plan, I should be running 9 for my long run this week. On the new plan, next week I should be at 6.5, so I’m right on track. I feel certain this will all be much easier to accomplish once the kids start school in a few weeks. I’ve just got to hang in there until then.

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Visit to South Dakota – Part 3

Remember how we took that trip to Rapid City, like, a month ago? Well, I just realized that I forgot to share pics from the last of our adventures!

On our last day, I took the kids to visit the Cosmos Mystery Area. It’s on the way to Mount Rushmore. I don’t know how this place works. It’s pretty mind-boggling. I had killer motion sickness the instant I walked into this crazy cabin. I could hardly wait to get out.

 

Our second adventure of the day was a trip to Bear Country USA. It was pretty wild driving through a park with bears surrounding the car. I’ve never seen anything quite like it…unless you count the drive-through zoo in San Antonio where an ostrich tried to get in the car with me. Thank the Lord that wasn’t a bear.

Also, aren’t baby bears the CUTEST? It’s a good thing we didn’t go into the gift shop. I probably would have bought everything after watching those adorable cubs for a while.

 

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It’s a busy week for this travel agent.

Wow, what a week! I know it’s not over yet, but I feel like I should write something now that I have a short moment to come up for air. After a relatively slow summer, Disney is kicking me in the behind this week with two new promotions – military salute 2014-2015 and a late fall room discount – released practically on top of each other.

I may or may not have been wandering the neighborhood in my pajamas at 2:00pm yesterday, retrieving my children from the playground, because I got on the phone to get discounts for my clients as soon as I rolled out of bed and hadn’t seen the light of day yet. Sorry, neighbors. It probably won’t be the last time, so I’ll go ahead and apologize for future pajama sightings, too.

Also, I’m pretty sure I’m starting to get crazy eyes…

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You know, from staring at the computer screen and listening to too much Disney hold music. I’m taking a short breather today to try and fix that. 2015 rates are out next week, so it ain’t over yet!

If you need anything, you know where to find me… audra@atimetotreasuretravel.com

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Disney Princess Locket Winners

First of all, a HUGE thank you to everyone who participated in this giveaway. There were 195 entries! That’s almost quadruple the number of entries in my last giveaway!

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Congratulations to Maryann Drapkin! You are the winner of the large Frozen locket.

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Shannon Faith, you are the winner of the medium Little Mermaid locket!

I hope you both enjoy your beautiful prizes. You have e-mail waiting from me to collect your shipping details. Thanks again to all of you for participating. I am just thrilled with turnout. I will be on the lookout for more fun giveaways to share with you in the future.

Have a wonderful weekend!

 

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Wine & Dine Training – Week 2

I know this probably gets boring for many of you, me blabbering on about the week’s runs. Here’s the thing, though – it helps me stay on track. If I’m writing about it here at the end of each week, I feel held accountable. If I screw up or get lazy, you’re going to know about it. Let’s be honest, with 16 weeks to go, that’s going to happen at some point. I’m only human.

I started out on Monday running 4 miles on the treadmill. Something in my hip was twinging as I ran, but I pushed through it anyway.

I cross-trained in the yard with my neighbors on Tuesday morning and realized that pushing through the pain on Monday was probably not the smartest thing I’ve ever done. I spent the rest of the day trying to stretch out my hip.

On Wednesday, I did more stretching and got on the treadmill with another 4-mile goal. After running/walking/limping through 2 miles, I quit. It was terrible. I just could not do it.

Thursday, I rested and stretched. I knew I had 6 miles penciled in on the calendar for Friday, and I really didn’t know whether I should attempt it or not. I mean, I’ve had hip pain before, but it was identifiable. My IT band gets sore when it’s time to replace my running shoes, and so far, that’s been the only time. This pain was weird, difficult to pin-point, and really hard to work out.

My internal debate went something like this…

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This brings us to today. My plan was to head to the gym, stretch, warm up on an elliptical machine, and then see how much running I could manage. I am happy to say that this plan worked! Nothing hurt, and I made it the full 6 miles. Hooray! I was really going to be bummed if I’d completely blown the plan by week two.

Now, to celebrate. ;)

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Origami Owl – Disney Princess Locket Giveaway

Alright, Princesses! It’s time for that giveaway.

This has been in the works for a couple of months now, so I’m really excited that it’s finally time to share these with you. I have TWO gorgeous Origami Owl lockets for two lucky winners, because you need something sparkly to compliment that Princess Half Marathon medal you’ll be sporting come February.

For those who aren’t familiar with Origami Owl…their living lockets are fully customizable. When you’re tired of what’s inside, you can easily open it up and change out the charms. Most charms are $5 each, so this giveaway is basically giving you a pretty awesome starter locket.

Not a running Princess? That’s OK. Princesses of all kinds (as well as husbands, boyfriends, brothers, etc. of Princesses) are welcome to enter.

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First prize is inspired by Frozen.

This is a large silver living locket with crystals on a 24-26″ silver rolo chain. Inside, there is a crystal crown charm, an ice skate charm, a silver “sister” heart charm, a snowflake charm, June and April birthstones, and an aqua accent stone. The retail value of this locket is $75. Isn’t it GORGEOUS?

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Second prize is inspired by my all-time favorite Disney princess movie – The Little Mermaid.

This is a medium silver living locket with crystals on a 16-18″ silver ball station chain. Inside, you’ll find a crystal crown charm, a seahorse charm, a seashell charm (retired), and the May, November, and January birthstones. The retail value of this locket is $63.

I have to give major props to my friend Laura Jolley for designing these for me. If you don’t have an Origami Owl designer, check her out. She’s the best. :) I told her I wanted princess lockets, and she did all the hard work!

This giveaway ends at midnight on Friday, July 18th. I will announce winners here on Saturday morning. Please share with your friends! Just click on where it says “a Rafflecopter giveaway” below, and you’ll be taken to my entry page.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wine & Dine Race Training – Week 1

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It’s that time again. Time for me to lose the excuses and run, run, run!

I used Jeff Galloway’s training program found on the runDisney website to train for the Princess Half last year, and it worked out pretty well. I decided to stick with his plan, but I’m attempting the time improvement version this time around. I reserve the right to switch to the “finish in the upright position” plan later, though. I’m still working out exactly what I’m meant to do for some of these runs.

Screen Shot 2014-07-11 at 4.48.12 PMWeek 1 began on Tuesday. Although, I don’t do Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday. I like to do my runs on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I’m rebellious like that. Oh, and I also don’t run-walk-run. I just run. And when I can’t, I walk. I don’t stick to the interval thing, though.

I ran my first 4 miles on Monday in the family room at the gym. I’ve been running a few times a week over the last month to rebuild my endurance, so this wasn’t too terrible. I only wish the treadmills in our family room faced the kids’ area. I feel very fortunate that I didn’t fall off while breaking up one of the many cat fights my children engaged in on Monday morning. I’m using the term “morning” loosely. It was 11:15 before we dragged ourselves down there. At least we made it.

On Wednesday, I tried something different. There’s a middle school nearby with a fenced track. I loaded up the kids, some water bottles, and a few toys, and we headed there. I managed another 4 miles, and no one started begging to go home until I was on my last mile.

In the interim, I’ve been adding cross-training. I did part of a PiYo workout on Tuesday, until the YouTube channel on my Apple TV wouldn’t load any more of it. Of course, the whole thing worked later the same night. Yesterday, I joined my neighbor out in the front yard for a workout. (Thanks, Jenn!)

Today, I ran my 4.5 miles in the family room again. Everyone got along, but MAN, it was hot. (Our gym isn’t air conditioned.) It wasn’t until I finished that I realized the giant fan was turned off. I will be double-checking that next time. It was a rough 4.5 miles. About 2 miles in, I was sure I wouldn’t be able to finish. I’m happy to say that I did, and Week 1 is complete.

I plan to spend the weekend resting, so I can begin again on Monday!

 

 

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