Three Words for 2014

2013 was a pretty fantastic year for us.  We moved to Colorado and embraced our new lifestyle with gusto.  We experienced things that we never thought we would and we explored lots of new places.  My words for 2013 were Risk, Nurture, and Move.  I think that I did a pretty good job of trying to use those words to live intentionally.

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It is my hope that 2014 is as good, if not better, than 2013.  In 2014, I am going to concentrate on the words Patience, Shine, and Surrender.

Patience

This is something that I have never had much of.  I lose patience with things and people too quickly and occasionally I will say or do something that I am not proud of out of my lack of patience.  I hope to have more patience with my family and the people surrounding me.  I hope to have patience when something breaks and I hope to keep my temper under control.

Shine

Social media can be a wonderful thing.  It has given the everyman a voice.  It can also be an awful thing.  It has given the everyman a voice.  I love logging on to Facebook or Instagram to see what my friends and colleagues have been up to.  It is an easy way to keep in touch and keep updated on the happenings in our world.  It is also a dark place filled with ugliness and sadness.  It is my hope to shine a light of happiness and kindness.  I want to make sure that I keep my cheery disposition and not let other people or things bring me down.  Instead, I hope to help lift others this year.  In that same token, I plan to shut down the computer as often as I can from the point the kids get home until they go to bed.  I tried to do this during 2013, but I was not always successful.  I would log in quickly to check on school work or Facebook when they went outside to play or I would look at my phone as we sat at the doctor’s office.  I will continue to make an effort to step away from the computer and all things Social Media when my children are home.

Surrender

This means a number of things for me.  In my relationship with my children, I am going to try to remember that I don’t always have to have the last word.  In travels, I am going to remember to say yes more and surrender myself to activities that scare me or that I might have avoided in the past.  I plan to surrender myself and release control of things that I don’t need to control.  This one is probably going to be the hardest for me.

What is your word for 2014?

Share Your Best #3

Meagan from Mommy Travels and I are having so much fun with our Share Your Best linkup.  I love reading all the different posts that you have to offer!

Do you have a post that you’re particularly proud of? Each month Mommy Travels and Two Kids and a Map will be hosting the Share Your Best link up. Whether you’ve created an amazing recipe, gone on a beautiful trip, or reviewed a product you love this is the link up for you. Link up on either site and show up on both.

Your challenge is to pick out your best post of the month and share it with us.  Mommy Travels and Two Kids and a Map are travel blogs, but we also write about many other things.  Link up a post that you are most proud of at the bottom of this post.

This month, we would love for you to share your favorite Christmas or holiday post!

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Christmas Ornaments Around the World – I buy an ornament everywhere we go.  I shared some of my favorites in this post.  It is an older post so I think it is time to revisit the tree to remind ourselves of what we purchased over the past year or so!

Christmas Ornaments Around the World: The Blogger Edition – I gathered up pictures and information about some of my favorite bloggers and their Christmas ornaments.

Uncovering Colorado: Denver Botanic Gardens Blossoms of Light – We love holiday lights.  One of our first outings in Colorado was to the Denver Botanic Gardens to see their light display.  I am excited to make this a yearly tradition as we are headed back out there tonight.

 

Skiing for Beginners: 6 Things to Know about Renting Ski Equipment

Renting ski equipment is a good option for beginners or people who are traveling and don’t want to haul their ski equipment with them.  After renting ski equipment from three different mountain resorts, we have learned a thing or two.

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Bring your patience with you.  We have rented from slope-side stores, stores that are in town, small stores and large stores.  We have rented in the morning and the afternoon.  They are all run efficiently but they are crowded and there is only so much the employees can do.  Plan at least 45 minutes, though I would give yourself an hour) to rent your ski equipment.  Don’t show up ten minutes before your lesson and think you will be able to get equipment and go.  Each place has its own set up but you will likely begin at registration, then you wait to get sized for boots, then you get in line to get sized for skis, and so on.  Picking up your skis the day before you hit the slopes can help save some time but you might not be the only one with that idea.

Just say no to the Demo package if you are a beginner.  Unless you ski a lot and want to try them out,  you don’t need the Demo package.  It is a few bucks more and sounds like a lot of fun but these skis typically can not be just left on the ski racks when you take a break.  Most resorts ask that you store them with a storage place rather than the racks.  This can become inconvenient.

Helmets are not always included.  Most adult ski packages do not include helmets.  After taking a very rough tumble this weekend, I highly recommend that you add the helmet to the package.

Get the insurance for the equipment.  It is only a few dollars and then you just don’t have to worry.

Find out where you can return the skis.  Before you leave the rental place, find out where you can return the skis.  The day is long and you will probably be exhausted.  If you end up nowhere near the original rental location, you might be able to drop your equipment off at a different location.

Write down your sizes before returning your skis.  This can help you when you rent next time.  If you have your sizes, you can speed up the process and be sure you get a ski length that you like.

This post is part of Travel Tips Tuesday with Suitcases and Sippy Cups and Walkingon Travels.
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GIVEAWAY – Maha Strap by Patagonia

Remember that great pair of shoes that I reviewed a few weeks ago?

This one?

I am working with Planetshoes.com to give away a pair this week! The winner will get to choose the color (black or espresso). I really liked the pair of shoes because they were compact and fit in my suitcase. They look nice enough to be worn with a casual dress but also work well if you are sitting around a campfire. The sole of the shoe is very supportive. See my full review.

How to Enter

We will be giving away one pair of Patagonia Maha Straps to ONE (1) winner. If you would like a chance to win, leave a comment in this post before 9:59pm CST on Saturday, April 14, 2012, telling us which Patagonia shoes you like. Stop by Planet Shoes to see the different shoes available. Don’t worry about being creative in your comment because the winner will be chosen by a random number generator. Please make sure that you fill out the required fields by putting your first name in the name field and your email address in the email address field. I do not share email addresses and you will not receive emails from Two Kids and a Map unless you win.

Winners

We will choose ONE winner randomly and announce the results here on Two Kids and a Map sometime after 9:59 CST Saturday, April 14. Thank you so much to Planet Shoes for their giveaway!

Rules

One comment per person per giveaway post. Duplicate comments and anonymous comments will be discarded. Please make sure that the email address in your comment form is valid so that we can contact you (email addresses are never made public). Winners must claim their prize within three business days after the date of notification of such prize. We will disqualify any entries that we believe are generated by scripts and other automated technology. No substitutions including for cash are permitted, except that Two Kids and a Map reserves the right to substitute a prize of equal or greater monetary value for any prize. Winners shall be responsible and liable for all federal, state and local taxes on the value of their prize. Relatives of Two Kids and a Map are not eligible to win.

Because this is a family site and we get a lot of spam comments, all comments on this site are moderated. If your comment doesn’t show up right away, don’t worry!

Books I’ve Read – March

It is already April so that means it is time for my monthly roundup of books I have read.  In January, I started sharing books I’ve read for two reasons.  First, I would like a place to keep a list of all the books I have read and just haven’t found a good place for it yet.  Second, I love hearing what other people are reading and I like to add to my list of books to read.

When you finish reading the list, leave me a comment with your favorite reads this month and get additional book recs from my January and February list.

This month was full of solo travel and I had a lot of downtime to read.  Here is what I’ve read in March:

Nearly Departed in Deadwood by Ann Charles – I downloaded the first and second book in this trilogy for free.  The main character is a woman, Violet, trying her hand as a Realtor and manages to get herself wrapped up into a murder mystery. Even though there is murder and mayhem, there is a lot of comedy as well.  I found myself laughing out loud several times as I read Violet’s thoughts.

Finger Lickin Fifteen by Janet Evanovich – I have read all of the numbered books by Janet Evanovich and this one was by far the funniest to me.

Cinder: Book One in the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer – Star Trek meets Cinderella is the only way that I can describe this book.  It was totally not what I was expecting and it took me a few chapters to get in to it. I am now patiently waiting for Book Two to be released.

Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver – This is the second book in the Delirium trilogy. It seamlessly picked up where the first book ended. Like Cinder, I finished this book and was disappointed the next one wasn’t sitting on my bedside table. If you like Young Adult literature, you will enjoy this easy read.  I also want to mention another book by Lauren Oliver that I read last year, Before I Fall.  In Before I Fall, a girl gets to relive her last day several times. It is a tear jerker, but I think that it has a poignant message for teenagers.

What is on your reading list right now?

Photo Friday: Panoramic Photos with the HTC Rhyme

While at the TravelingMom Disney retreat, we were given the HTC Rhyme to try out.

Is it a camera?  Is it a phone?  It is actually both and then some.

The HTC Rhyme has a great camera with all sorts of settings.  I will give a full review of the phone later but first I want to share one of my favorite settings on the camera phone.  The Panoramic setting was so much fun to play with that I might have a hard time giving up this phone (even if it comes without a slide out keypad).

The Panoramic setting is very easy to use on the HTC Rhyme. To take a picture, you click the shutter button.  The camera snaps a picture and you then follow the directional arrows with the ring onscreen. You slowly pan the camera, keeping the ring on the dotted line. When you get to the next stop, the camera snaps a picture. You do this one more time and the camera will stitch together your picture.

It is so easy to use and the pictures turned out beautifully.

From Castaway Cay looking towards the Disney Fantasy

The Atrium during the Farewell Party

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Animator’s Palate

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 Stop by Delicious Baby to see other Photo Friday submissions!  I am also participating in Friday Daydreaming over at R We There Yet.

Do you want to read more about my Disney Fantasy experience?  Read about seven mistakes I made on my first Disney cruise. Wondering if it will be my first and last Disney cruise or if I am planning another trip? Stay tuned next week.

*Thank you to HTC and TravelingMom.com for giving me the HTC Rhyme to try. I will be returning the phone to the company in a few weeks.  Thank you to Disney and Traveling Mom for providing my cruise accommodations. I paid for travel there and back as well as other expenses. As always, opinions are mine and mine alone.

Patagonia Maha Strap

Ever since I broke my foot last year, I have had a hard time finding shoes that are comfortable enough to last on an all day long walking excursion yet nice enough to wear out to dinner that same night. My fancy tennis shoes work great throughout the day but don’t cut it as a shoe for a dinner out. My favorite flats can barely get me through a grocery store before they start to bother my feet.

The Maha Strap by Patagonia is a nice mix of both shoes. The shoe is made of nubuck leather and mesh breathable fabric.  The inside lining is soft so that the shoe is comfortably worn without socks. The strap wraps around your ankle and through a hook and loop velcro closure. It can be removed if you choose but I left the strap on when I wore the shoes. The shoes come in Black and Espresso, a brown and tan color combination.

When I first pulled the shoes out of the box, I wasn’t sure how I felt about the style of the shoe. After putting them on, I decided that I did like the style. I was also concerned that the barely there, recycled rubber sole would not be supportive enough for my foot. I wore the shoes on a recent cruise while I was taking a self-guided tour of the ship. I walked for about three hours without stopping except to snap a picture here and there. They held up well and besides a small blister because they are just a touch too big, my feet were happy. When it was time for a more formal dinner that night, I was able to pair the shoes with a long black skirt and blouse without looking sloppy. I also wore them throughout the airport as I raced from one side to the other. They are supportive, yet stylish.

This pair of shoes seemed to run a little bit big but I don’t think the size below would have fit as comfortably as the original size I tried.

My favorite part about this shoe is that they are compact and can be easily packed into a small suitcase without taking up too much room.

The Patagonia Maha Strap is available through PlanetShoes.com for $95. From now until April 2, Patagonia will donate $10 to the Appalachian Mountain Club for each pair of Patagonia shoes purchased.

Thank you to Planet Shoes and Patagonia for offering a pair of shoes to facilitate this review.  As always, opinions are all my own.

Two Amazing Giveaways at TravelingMom

In addition to writing here, I also write as Southern TravelingMom over at TravelingMom.com.  TravelingMom is a great way to find information for a trip and read funny stories but did you know that TravelingMom hosts some pretty amazing giveaways?  They have two going on right now that you won’t want to miss!

Win a Galapagos Cruise aboard the National Geographic Endeavor where you will visit islands, hike, swim, snorkel and more with your family.  There are several ways to enter and they will up your chances of winning!

You also can enter for a chance to win an iPad2 with TravelingMom and the sponsor Tauck Bridges family travel tours.

Butterflies at Callaway Gardens

By far, my favorite part of our trip to Callaway Gardens was the Butterfly House.  The butterflies floated around in the sun and we sat mesmerized for almost an hour.

Visit Delicious Baby to see other Photo Friday submissions.

The Perfect Plate of Fried Chicken

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Eating healthy at home is important to me.  Sure, we keep treats around the house and I bake a batch of cookies every couple of weeks, but we have tried very hard to follow the tenets of the clean eating movement.

When we travel, all bets are off.  We still eat healthy enough so that our poor stomachs don’t go into shock, but we are more liberal with the sweets, junky dinners and sky high stacks of pancakes in the morning.    Though I consider myself a Southern Mama, I have never made fried chicken.  *gasp* It is very time consuming, it makes a gigantic mess and you need buttermilk.  Buttermilk!

If fried chicken is on the menu, I order it.  I can’t help myself.  I manage to find a fabulous plate of fried chicken in every southern town we have visited and the Country Kitchen at Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, Georgia is no exception!

After looking at the menu and peeking at our fellow diners’ plates, even my husband couldn’t resist the call of the fried chicken plate!  Look at this crispy golden brown fried chicken goodness.  What goes with this perfect plate of fried chicken?  Why coleslaw, of course!  Other favorite sides are macaroni and cheese and baked apples!  After we finished this meal, we went for a very long walk…we needed it!

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Wander on by Wanderfood Wednesday to see sweet and savory dishes around the world!