Sunday, August 25, 2013


When a baby is born everything is a first -- first time at church, first smile (or was that gas?), first crawl, first time eating new foods, first tooth, first steps, first time meeting people ... the list goes on and on, with everything noted in the baby book.

Then life levels out and the "firsts" are more rare. First day of school. First lost tooth. First time riding without a booster seat. First lead in a show. Less and less firsts to note.

The summer of Ashley turning 11 we started to hit new "firsts." While not noted in the baby book, they are still big steps for all of us.

First time at sleep-away camp: Ashley spent a weekend at Upper Canada Village.

First flight alone: to Michigan to see her friend from kindergarten

First play date without parents in the house: well, this almost happened when friends invited her over, but would not be home. I ended up staying since it was pouring outside.

First time staying home alone: this is happening more often as we make quick trips to Home Depot.

What's next? First crush? First date? First heartbreak? First broken bone? First time driving a car? 

Time slow down and let us enjoy it all!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Tapering for D3

Wednesday's awesome 10 mile run, and today's beautiful weather, lulled me into thinking today's 5 miler would be another awesome run. With two weeks to go until the Dumbo Double Dare, I was hoping for a super run. 

It just wasn't meant to be.

Today I tested out my D3 costume -- include my daughter's Mad Hatter hat. The hat bothered me, especially behind the ear. Do I scrap the costume idea or deal with it for the 10K because it would look cute in the pictures and might help me go slower and save energy for the next day's half marathon?

Wednesday I stretched the first time in ages. Today I didn't. Should I go back to stretching for a few minutes? Seems like the research is mixed on the pros and cons of stretching.

Wednesday I ate a Kind bar part-way through. Today I left it at home. 

Were my legs just still tired from two days ago?

I'll try to take it easy this weekend and see how I feel on Monday. T-2 weeks until D3!

SparkleSkirts vs. Team Sparkle

Google Sparkle Skirts or visit a RunDisney race expo and you quickly learn there are two companies making the same basic product: SparkleSkirts and Team Sparkle.

The yellow one is from SparkleSkirts. The green one is from Team Sparkle.

Both are made in the USA. I'm under the impression SparkleSkirts is made in Florida, and Team Sparkle makes theirs in California, but that is based on a conversation with Ernie, who dressed as Belle, just before the Princess Half Marathon

SparkleLight Skirts cost $30.
Team Sparkle Skirts cost $25.

After I received my Team Sparkle Skirt in the mail, hubby said next time spend the extra $5 for the SparkleLight Skirt. After wearing both of them, I'm on the fence.

The SparkleLight Skirt has a wider waist band, with a hidden pocket in it. The bottom is hemmed. The skirt is a little longer, which helps hide the shorts you wear beneath it.

The Team Sparkle Skirt has little extra flair with the ruffle and weighs less, which is also a plus. 

I'll be wearing one of each during the Dumbo Double Dare weekend in two weeks. I can let you know how they hold up during races. I like the extra little sparkle and have even taken to wearing them during training runs, and definitely during non-Disney races.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Terhune Farm Camp

Closer to home Ashley enjoyed a week at Terhune Orchards Future Farmers Camp.

The five best things about the camp:
1) No traffic or traffic lights between our house and the camp.
2) Ashley gets to play and get dirty while having fun.
3) Ashley comes home with the produce she picked.
4) Ashley tries new foods (she made, and loved salsa, scrambled eggs and smoothies that week)
5) The wine tasting room is open on Fridays. ;)

Upper Canada Village Time Travelers Camp

Last summer while visiting Chris near Montreal we talked about going to Upper Canada Village. Had it not been pouring that day, it would have been the perfect outing with our history-loving daughter. Looking at the website I learned they offered week-long sleep away camps. It seemed like a perfect match for Ashley, but the timing was off with other activities we already had planned that summer.

Fast forward to summer of 2013. This year they also offered Try-A-Camp (the information should be there in Spring for next year) for the Time Travelers Program. Basically the usual week-long camp condensed into 42 hours for those unsure if they want to commit to a full week. The application process included an essay and a letter of recommendation. In May we were pleased to find out she was accepted. Unfortunately her acceptance letter never made it from Canada to New Jersey. And by never I mean we are still waiting for it.

Last weekend was her weekend. The weather was absolutely perfect! Mid-70s
during the day getting a little cooler at night. While Ashley played the role of a Canadian 1860s girl, we spent time with friends. Don went on a bike ride with his friend Chris, and I hung out with my Ohio friend from Belgium who lives in Montreal, Marlene.

I asked Ashley to write her thoughts down about the weekend. Keep in mind my American friends that in the 1860s America was battling the Civil War while Canada was in their pioneer stage.

The thoughts her hers. As per our agreement, I turned them into complete sentences. It was either that, or she wouldn't type anything for me.

There were 9 girls and 3 boys in the program that weekend. Ashley bunked with two girls from New York. At 11 and 2 1/2 months, she was the oldest. The next oldest will be 11 next month.

We drove 9 hours to get to Upper Canada Village. It was supposed to be a 6 1/2 hour drive, but we made a long lunch stop and a couple of other quicker stops (including getting gas in New York rather than in Canada). Amazingly we found the right place at 4:10 -- only 10 minutes after the official drop off time. As we had wandered around the place for 15 minutes, I thought we were doing pretty good.

After getting settled in her room (which even though they were living the 1860s life, did have a/c, running water, refrigeration and other 21st century amenities), she joined the other kids playing getting-to-know-you type of games. Also during the weekend, they played "Hide the Hankie," "I love my love with a __ ," Freeze tag (where she scraped up her knee and elbow), "Blind man’s bluff," sack races, "I’m going on a picnic," and Sardines (which was tough with most of them wearing red camp shirts).

"Our group’s name was Perfect Pigs. We had dinner and dish duty on first and last days. We milked the cow" (after getting some milk out of it, Ashley was one of two kids told she has pretty strong hands, must be all that fire making she does at the Lenape Village).

During they day the kids wore 1860s outfits. The girls wore dresses made out of cotton with buttons and a distinct, fitted waist. They wore a petticoat under the dress and also a hat whenever they were outside. Each morning they were assigned an activity with another child. On Saturday she sewed beads in the shape of dragonfly onto a case for her sewing needles. On Sunday her chore was to make Hob Nail Biscuits (cookies with brown sugar and currents, baked over an open flame).

In the late morning they had group activities. On Saturday they attended school. They had to sing “God Save the Queen,” (which, of course, everyone knows, but the American kids). They wrote a saying for the day, had a “health check” (for lice, to make sure our hair was neat, and that our hands were clean; "I was glad she didn’t check our knees or our elbows (since she had scraped them playing freeze tag), but that would have been improper for her to see). We read about a foreign creature called a tiger, drew a picture of the tiger using only the description in the text book, and had a spelling bee. I came in 2nd place." Ashley said the words were very hard, and she did not recognize most of them, but was given a list to study in advance of the bee. 

On Sunday the group activity was Sunday School, held in the chapel. Don and I were there for that. We sang, read a poem (the moral was to be grateful for what you have -- especially your siblings), memorize the last stanza of the poem (each one recited it one at a time), and sang again.

Together they put on a play called “The Frog Prince.”Ashley played the part of the 4th Daughter who married the Frog Prince. During rehearsal she leaned the wrong way on the bench and toppled it. Fortunately that did not happen during the show.n
Unfortunately they started a few minutes early and we missed the beginning.

Ashley said her least favorite part was when tourists (many Japanese and Chinese tourists, as well as French and English Canadians, and Americans) took pictures of them while eating.

While visiting the village on Sunday Don and I learned a few things. We went to the Cheese Making Building where they make cheddar cheese. I learned two things here. The first was that the Canadians took over importing cheese to England during the 1860s because the Americans were too busy fighting the Civil War. The second was that they add an orange dye to the cheese they export so that the English could distinguish between the domestic and foreign cheeses upon sight.

We ran out of time at the village. I thought Ashley would want to spend a lot of time showing us around afterwards, but she was beat and we still had a 9 hour ride ahead of us.

Ashley is already asking to go back again next year, but this time for the full week. That suits us. This way we can spread out the driving and have a mini-vacation without her.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

How do I want to be remembered?

This past week a couple of things happened that made me think of how people think of me vs. how I want to be remembered. I'm not talking about high school cattiness and back stabbing, but what image I want to present to the world.

The most recent incident was a friend from college passed away. I have not kept in touch with him since before we graduated, therefore his death is not personal, but rather philosophic. I read his online obituary. He was the same age as me. It listed his education, current job, hobbies, relatives. All the basic stuff. 

It made me wonder what would be said about me if I were to die. Sure, the basic stats -- birth and death dates, family (including the names of all my great-grandchildren, of course), perhaps education. What then? I won't be here to write my own obituary. What will someone else deem important enough about me to share with the rest of the world for posterity?

This then made me think of a networking meeting I went to a week ago. The topic was branding -- as in making sure people know about our brand, not as in leaving a mark on cattle. 

One speaker talked about the importance of getting the word out there about what your business does. As a sole business person, what people think of me (my perceived image) is my brand. He was so adamant about working on his branding image that he refused to share with us the labels he does not want associated with himself.

If someone were to describe me, what words would they use? Here are a few words that might come to mind: 

Disney Fan

Not a bad list. Perhaps you could add to it.

However, as I form my business, I would rather my professional list look more like this:

Memoir writer

By keeping the list short, it is easier for people to remember and for me to get the word out about what I do, and what I want to do.

Over the next few months I want to work on branding my image through the use of social media. We'll see by Christmas how well I have done with reinventing my brand in the eyes of  others.