BTDT: Watkins Regional Park, Maryland

Am I the last person in the state of Maryland who has never taken the kid to Watkins Regional Park? Holy moly, what a hidden gem.

We had Veteran’s Day off and the weather was perfect – chilly and cloudy, but warm enough for just a sweatshirt. Perfect playground weather! I’ve heard good things about Watkins Park, or the Wizard of Oz Park, but I was blown away.

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It’s tucked away in Upper Marlboro off of Central Avenue and the park has camping, a carousel and even a train – but the playground is worth the trip alone.  It was closed from January to June 2015 for multi-million dollar renovations and reopened with a cool Wizard of Oz theme.  Think the ruby slippers, yellow brick road, Emerald City and Aunt Em’s farm.

I was a little worried when we pulled up and saw tons of cars, but once we go into the playground it hardly felt crowded. There were lots of parents chatting while the kids ran around being kids.  Mike was beyond excited. I recommend if you have a toddler team up with a partner and wear your jogging shoes.It can be pretty overwhelming!

A few things I liked: 

Well, it is no secret I love a theme. They even had stand alone posts with excerpts from the book at each play structure.

The bouncy, cushy ‘floor‘. What IS that material? When I was a kid we had nothing to cushion our landing or wood chips which was equally painful.

The bathroom is RIGHT THERE. I didn’t have a chance to go inside, but it is good to note for potty training ages how convenient it is.

The bells! Mike loved the huge bells. What a cool, unique activity.

The details. From the ‘faces’ on the trees to the small interactive activities to the tadpole steps. There was something cool around every corner.

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Quick and Dirty:
Cost: Nada!
Age Group? Fun for all ages
Parking? I would say on a busy day it would be a tight fit, but it’s a parking lot.
Food Options? None near the playground, but fast food options nearby. There are picnic shelters to reserve. There are lots of benches for a quick snack.
Stroller Friendly? 100%
Changing Tables? I didn’t go into the bathroom, but I am going to assume so.
Safety: As safe as a playground can be.
See you there? You bet!

 

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The Lunch Struggle

The lunch struggle is real ya’ll. How many days in a row can I eat yogurt, a banana, turkey and cheese (sans bread) and a random ‘healthy’ snack?

The other challenge is my new job. I’ve been here a month and so far I really really love it. And I am BUSY. Most of the time I am running around so much, so I am so focused, I forget lunch. Next thing I know I am in a meeting where I realize I am hangrey or someone brings their own lunch and eats it DURING the meeting (FYI – this is never okay).

What’s a girl to do? Progresso Soup Bistro Cups!

I’ll be honest, I am not a soup person, but when Progresso asked me to check out their new Soup Bistro Cups, I was game. I wasn’t expecting much, but I went in with an open mind. Guess what? I’m all in. They are convenient, easy to make and filling. Plus, you can make them in a mug and drink them during a meeting and no one has to know it is something other than coffee.

All you have to do is open the packet into a mug, drop the K-Cup into a Keurig brewer (even those annoying 2.0 ones take these Bistro Cups), stir it up and in mere minutes, your lunch is ready.

bistrocups

I tried the Tomato Parmesan, but they also have Broccoli & Cheese and Creamy Southwestern which are both ready for my lunchbox next week.

If you are in the Northeast USA and want to try them don’t forget to download a $2 off coupon.

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Friday 5: Halloween Movie Edition

I’ll be honest – I am not a Halloween person. I mean, I get it. But I don’t get INTO it. I think when Mikey gets a little older it will be more fun, but right now I could take it or leave it.

I am kinda the same when it comes to scary movies. I am for SURE not a gore type movie fan, but I do enjoy a psychological thriller. During the day. When it is on in the background and I am doing something else. And I know the ending.

So for my Friday Five I thought I would pay homage to my five favorite scary movies (in no particular order)!

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{The OthersThis is by far one of my favorites. Nicole Kidman and her two photo-sensitive kids live in a huge house towards the end of WWII. Three house servants arrive and Momma kinda loses her mind and thinks the house is haunted. But wouldn’t you if you were stuck in a dark house all day waiting for your husband to return from war? By the end of this movie you will want to immediately start over to see if the ending makes sense.

The intruders are leaving, but others will come. Sometimes we’ll sense them. Other times, we won’t.

{The Happening}  I get a lot of crap from loving this movie because it is more hacky then scary. Basically nature starts turning on humans by releasing a chemical that makes humans off themselves. Mark Wahlburg, and his wife, Zooey Deschanel try to save their best friend’s daughter and well … humanity. I have to admit, on a windy day I have to convince myself it isn’t Mother Nature finally seeking her revenge for my love of styrofoam and bottled water. 

My name is Private Auster. I’m stationed at Westover Military Base about ten miles back. I think they’ve been affected by whatever’s happening. I lost communication with them. When I approached the base, I saw military personnel in… the barbed wire in… the fence. So I suggest no one take that road.

{Blair Witch ProjectIf you live in Maryland, you have to like this movie by default. It was pretty groundbreaking at the time with the shaky cam and ‘found footage’ style. I think that approach just covers up horrible acting since they are ‘real people’.

I’m afraid to close my eyes, I’m afraid to open them

{The Bad SeedI’ve talked about this movie before because Rhoda is a bit of a messed up kid. But in the perfect way. I think what is scary about this movie is it all seems so normal. Hey. It’s all normal until your 8 year old kills her classmate for a penmanship medal. Watch this movie if you are having a tough day with your kid and you will instantly feel better.

Christine Penmark: Rhoda, what happened to old Mrs. Post in Wichita?

Rhoda: There was ice on the steps and I slipped and fell against her, and that was all.

Christine Penmark: That was all?

Rhoda: No. I slipped on purpose.

{CarrieLet me be specific. The ORIGINAL Carrie. This movie has all the makings of a a terrifying story. A high school outcast with telekinetic powers. A whack-a-do momma who has a prayer closet (and I’m not talking a calming meditation type closet either) and pig’
s blood at Prom.

Margaret White: I can see your dirty pillows. Everyone will.

Carrie: Breasts, Mama. They’re called breasts, and every woman has them.

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My First ‘Real’ 5K

So I’ve completed two virtual 5Ks and really enjoyed them. I felt relaxed, was in the moment and bursting with pride when I finished. I know some people don’t see virtual 5Ks as ‘real 5ks’, or just paying for a medal – but I took them seriously. I didn’t even HOLD the medals until I was done and my time was submitted.

I thought it was time to run my first in person 5K and thankfully our local volunteer fire station was holding their annual 5/10K. I will be honest – I didn’t do much by way of training. I did a few runs in the weeks leading up, but I knew I was doing it for fun – not to win or PR.

So this past weekend when S. dropped me off at the starting line early – I wanted to barf. Everyone looked so … runner. Running groups showed up, everyone had a friend (or so it seemed) and I was instantly transported back to middle school. No one was mean, but they had their people and routine and I did not. It was like they had this language I didn’t speak at all. Granted,  I didn’t really WANT to run with anyone else – I am very slow, and typically mix in walking when necessary. I figured others would do the same.

I got towards the back of pack and we were off! Well. Everyone else was off. I was doing a pretty fast walk, but double strollers were passing me. A three legged dog passed me. I am not making that up. A three legged dog. The 5K course was a complete circle and the 10K weaved in and out of the 5K course on side streets. So even when I was dead last, there was always a few of the 10Kers behind me. Most of the time.

I pretty much spent the first hour of the run fighting my inner mean girl. She was out in full force and loud. I couldn’t even hear my music. It was to the point where I even considered calling S. to just come pick me up on the corner. I really wanted to stop and cry – I was overwhelmed and embarrassed. What made me think I could do this? I thought a group would motivate me to push myself, but it had the opposite effect on me.

Basically by mile two I was chanting ‘just f*cking finish‘ in my head. I might have said it out loud. By mile 3, I was feeling a little better emotionally, but I realized I should have Ape taped my ankle, but I was just going to ‘f*cking finish’.

The finish line was ahead and I saw Mike and S. and my MIL there waiting for me. And I kept going. M. had to see his momma finish what she started right? Even when she wasn’t in her comfort zone, even when her body hurt, even when she was mad at herself and exhausted from fighting her inner mean girl. He had to see his momma finish. And he did.

After 1 hour and 7 minutes his momma just f*cking finished.

run

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New Beginnings

Well hello old friend. It’s so nice to see you again! I realize I have been the worst blogger, because well … life. It’s funny – I am so busy living my life to write about it! It’s not a bad thing, but this is such a great outlet for me, I need to keep up with it.

What’s been going on with me? Well I started a new job! I have been here a week and was reflecting on the way in this morning.  I realized I never had the first day of work butterflies, which seems odd for me. I walked in feeling confident that this new job was a good move for me AND my family.

After commuting over an hour one way to the last job, I was convinced I was getting the worst of Mike. I was the one to wake up my non-morning friendly kid and rush out the door, and then the minute I would come home after a frustrating day and long drive it was the dinner, bath and bed rush. I had a solid 2 hours with Mike a day and I freaking hated it.

The past week I have gotten a happier Mike because I am a happier Mom. I still get the morning grumpies, but the evenings are more relaxed. I really enjoy what I am doing now, membership for a small association and have a lot of experience to share.

I feel like things are finally falling into place and I am rejuvenated.

working mom

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Dear Mike: September 2015

Dear Mike –

Whoa, September blew by! I have to admit – this is my favorite month! The weather is cooler, it’s Grandma and Daddy’s birthday and it’s when Daddy and I got married. It was a pretty laid back month for you – just hanging out and being a toddler.

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{Speech Therapy} Daddy and I decided to get some extra help with your speech. You were talking a lot, but it was really hard to make out what you were saying and you weren’t saying many sentences. Well kiddo, that has all changed. Miss Lisa has come over a few times and I am not sure you’ve stopped talking since! She thinks you are charming and catching on really quickly – but we knew that would be the case.

{Food} I am really worried about our grocery bill when you turn into a teenager. You are eating EVERYTHING in sight. I am pretty sure you ate 5 mandarin oranges today alone! I really like pudding (punning), macaroni (ma-nonie), chicken (shick-in) and anything that is on someone else’s plate.

{Playtime} Stickers are where it’s at kiddo. Bonus points if they are Minion stickers. You also are obsessed with cars – specifically the die cast cars from the grocery store. You always seem to find the Scion Xb and shout ‘Mommy car’ proudly. Also coloring and chalk are popular these days. OH! I can’t forget. You love to write your name. Well, spell it (over and over) while someone makes your hand write it.

{Books} Every night you get to read 2 books and it seems like we are back to Llama Llama Share (yamma yamma shay) or any book that has counting or the ABCs. You’ve been doing it for awhile, but you really like when we pause and you fill in the word.

Well my love bug, October is already turning out to be amazing.

I’ll eat you up I love you so,

Momma xoxo

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Friday Five: Wedding Edition

As of today I have been married for FIVE YEARS! That doesn’t seem long considering we started dating 10 years ago. I usually spend our anniversary reading our wedding ceremony and flipping through pictures. The best part of the wedding (I mean, aside from getting married) was our ceremony. We are Unitarians and had it pretty free and easy with the ceremony structure. It was really a FUN day because it was what we wanted. So for today’s Friday Five, in no particular order, here are my five favorite memories from September 25, 2010.

{The Ceremony} Like I mentioned, we wrote our own ceremony and I truly love each aspect of it. We mixed in a few different traditions from different cultures like stomping the glass and a wine ceremony. We spent a lot of time talking about our reading and how to pull everything that was special to us into a quick ceremony.

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{My Girls} I decided I didn’t want to be Bridezilla – it wasn’t my style, so I didn’t want any bridemaid drama either. Lucky for me my three closest girl friends were of the ‘drama free’ mentality too. My Maid of Honor was my sister-in-law and best friend who tells it like it is. My cousin and best friend from growing up were my bridesmaids who were equally fun and organized. They really made the process not only hilarious, but relatively stress free from start to finish.

PicMonkey Collage

{Yichud} When you tell people about your upcoming wedding they tend to mention not eating. Well I like to eat and we paid a lot of money for the amazing food (pasta and fajita bar) so I was going to eat. I also wanted to spend some solo time with my new husband. Enter the tradition of the Yichud. The term “yichud” also refers to a ritual during an Ashkenazi Jewish wedding in which the newly married couple spends a period secluded in a room by themselves. We are not orthodox, but liked the idea of 15 minutes alone. Since we got married in an opera house, we used a dressing room. We had a plate of food and let our amazing photographer, Laura Dye, in to snap a few candids and then we just talked about random stuff. We hadn’t seen each other in a few days and just had this huge life altering event. This might be my favorite memory of the day.

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{The Candy Bar} So this wedding fad of having a candy bar for guests? I was 110% in. Since the vibe of the wedding was ‘vintage’ my sainted Mother scoured the internet for throwback candy.  It looked AWESOME and it was a hit as a thank you for our guests.

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{My Brother} I have one brother who thought it was a good idea to follow in my dad’s footsteps and be a Seabee in the Navy. The Navy tends to dictate every bit of a military family’s life – even the extended family. My brother was in training and flew in at some ungodly hour the day of my wedding and flew out at some ungodly hour the morning after. Having him there meant so much to me, I couldn’t imagine him not standing up there.

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Dear Mike: Summer 2015

My dear, sweet two year old –

I hope that when you read this letter you will understand how important the 12-4-1 Diaper Drive is in our lives and understand why you didn’t get a June (or July, or August for that matter) letter. It’s so hard to keep up sometimes because you are literally changing overnight. It seems daily you do something, your Dad and I give each other a ‘look’ and instantly deem you amazing.

{You Turned 2!} We had a great time celebrating your second birthday at Grandma and Grandpa’s house, which we turned in Mickey Mouse’s Clubhouse. We had all your favorite foods – cupcakes, hot dogs and Goldfish. You had a grand time running through the sprinkler with your friends, especially Mollie. Your favorite part was singing Happy Birthday to yourself. In fact, we’ve pretty much sung happy birthday to a pretend cake and blowing out the candles. birthday

{Beach Days} Daddy spent a lot of time at the beach growing up and we were eager to get you there as well! We started small by going to Sandy Point State Park on the Chesapeake Bay. You were a little hesitant about the sand and getting in the water, but before long you were sitting in the ‘surf’ and throwing sand. We went back a few more times and each time you were more and more excited. I have to admit, your favorite part of the beach is the snacks!

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{Books} You got your first library card for Anne Arundel County and not a moment too soon – you are reading up a storm! Each night you get at least two books and it’s a struggle to convince you that it’s time for bed. Your favorites are Go Digger Go (because Daddy does the sounds and beat boxes), Llama Llama, Chesapeake 1, 2, 3 and Chesapeake A, B, C. I love that you love books.

library

{Vacation} Daycare was closed for two weeks so Miss Rachel could have a much deserved break so we decided to take a mini-vacation to the beach! We stayed with Aunt Phyllis and Bubbe which meant you got to sleep in bed with Mommy and Daddy and chase Mellie the cat around yelling ‘me-oh, me-oh’. We went to swim in the bay and the cove we settled on was shallow enough for you to walk in the water which you thought was cool. You also explored the boardwalk in Rehoboth Beach and the highlight was playing enough skee-ball to win a toy car.

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{Baseball Game} For Father’s Day you got Dad tickets to a Bowie Baysox game. We weren’t sure how you would like it so we prepared for a quick exit. I must say – you LOVED it!  You happily sat in Mom’s seat and patiently waited for the next time you could cheer. And while you were waiting you chowed down on hot dogs. It was a really fun experience and next year we are planning on taking you more often AND getting you your own seat.

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You had a great summer Bug. It was so much fun for me to see you grow and show Daddy and me how independent you are becoming – like climbing a ladder at the playground, wanting to water the flowers and have a little more unsupervised time. It’s hard to let you do those things, but each and every time you prove you CAN do it and if you stumble, you shake it off and keep on keeping on.

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I’ll eat you up I love you so,

Momma, xoxo

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Peety Fecks

Dear Fourteen Year Old Jackie –

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I thought you should know – this morning your 2 year old son randomly pointed to the freckles on your chest and said ‘pretty’. Stop covering them up – they are pretty and so are you.

Love,

Old and Wiser You

 

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Friday 5: Running Accessories


If you follow me in real life, or even on social media, you know I am starting to think about fitness and how to incorporate it in my life. I’ll be honest – it’s really, really hard. I am carrying a lot of extra weight and have a pretty messed up relationship with food. But as a Momma, I need to set a good example and I am embracing that idea. So guess what? I’m a runner!

It sounds really funny to say that since my inner mean girl disagrees – I rarely run more than a mile, I do walking/jogging intervals and I’ve slacked off the past month. But when I tell all my friends who are ‘real’ runners they disagree. It doesn’t matter how far or how fast – if I am move faster than a walk, I am a runner. Suck it inner mean girl!

The best part of being a runner is all the cool accessories, so for my Five on Friday I want to share my top 5 running accessories. Even if you don’t run and do some other activity, these apply to you too!

PicMonkey Collage

{Ape Tape} I won’t go into the science of Kinesiology Tape, but it works. I first used it when I was in physical therapy for a shoulder injury a few years ago, but now it seems to have gone mainstream and you can get it in a variety of colors and brands at the drug store. I have something weird going on with my ankle, so it helps to use K-Tape before a run to offer stability and help me not feel so achie afterwards. I’ve trade a lot of brands, but Ape Tape is by far my favorite. It is thicker and lasts much longer than other brands.

{Fitbit Flex with fastener} People either love or hate activity trackers and I am a lover. I picked the Fitbit Flex because it was affordable and has an easy interface. I love going for a run and getting into the groove and feeling my wrist buzzing because I hit my goal. The only complaint I had was my fear of it falling off. BUT – I solved that problem pretty quickly with Allbingo’s silicon fasteners. They keep the Fitbit strap secure and adds a pop of color.

{Thick to Thin Gear} Have you heard of Thick 2 Thin? They are an amazing body positive company out of Virginia who creates gear for athletes – and firmly believes we are ALL athletes. I love that their new line of shorts and shirts will come in much larger sizes because I love to wear looser clothes on runs. They sent me a tank to wear for my virtual 5K and I felt awesome having a trendy shirt that expressed how I felt – strong and athletic. Plus their company values are exactly what I need. Do you follow them on FB? They are a fun bunch!

{Brooks Shoes} Running doesn’t have to be expensive, but you MUST MUST MUST have a solid pair of running shoes. I bought a pair of name brand shoes in an outlet store and after one run I was in enough pain that I dug the receipt out of the trash and returned them. I headed down to my local running store, Pacers, and they watched me  run and found a few pairs of shoes that fit my running style. Brooks Ghost 7 ended up being the best pair for me and they have been worth every penny.

{YouTube Beats Per Mile Playlist} I admire people who can run without music because I am certainly not one of them. Since I have an old phone and don’t want to lug my iPod with me, I have been listening to YouTube’s Beats Per Mile playlist. It’s got some great songs with a beat that keeps me moving.

What are your ‘must have’ workout accessories?

 

Yep, you guessed it. Some or all of this post is sponsored. They might have offered the product, but I offered my honest opinion. This post also might have affiliate links. I might get a small kick back, nothing that will let me quit my day job and nothing that will raise the price for you. You’ve been warned.

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