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In a little under a week, I’m hopping on a jet plane and heading out to San Diego for the BlogHer conference. I’m totally psyched — I’ve had great experiences the last couple of years with meeting new people, hanging out with people I’ve met before (either in real life or online), and, occasionally, learning a little something new about what it is I do for a living.

I know there are a lot of people who are super nervous about BlogHer, and I get it — there are 3000 people there. There’s a lot happening. It’s, you know, big. Leah (from A Girl and a Boy) made a really interesting point about how we all kind of know so many people, and maybe know them well enough to know that they’re, say, into monkeys, but we don’t know them well enough to know the details about, like, their trip to the monkey sanctuary.

And again, I totally get it, but here’s my question: How many people do you think truly expect everyone to know who they are? I don’t mean that in a catty way, by any means — truly, I’m wondering. I mean, I don’t have a lot of traffic (although you know I love all of you who read! I do!), but I wonder if there would be a point at which I would expect people to start recognizing me. I honestly don’t know.

What I do know is that if I don’t expect to be recognized, I don’t stand a chance of being upset or embarrassing someone else when they don’t know who I am. I feel like that’s a nice place to be. And you know, even when I’ve been introduced to people I later learned were, like, Big Time Bloggers, nobody has ever made me feel weird for not knowing their names or blogs off the top of my head. I like that. (Especially since I have the memory of a goldfish and don’t really ever remember anybody, ever.)

Now, this year will be a little different for me — I’m doing some events and stuff for Clever Girls Collective, who I (love, and) have been working with the last month or two, as well as for Fit Bottomed Girls (also working for, also love). So, I’ll be meeting people on behalf of these recognizable names, which, you know, will be … different. I have to say, I’m excited. (Did I already say that?)

Anyway, if you’re interested in meeting up in San Diego, let me know! Here’s what I look like (although, seriously, I will not expect you to recognize me. I SWEAR.).

Okay, FINE. That’s what I look like when I’m quite drunk and a little sweaty and playing Charlie’s Angels. So, it’s pretty likely that’s exactly how I’ll look when you see me at BlogHer, is what I’m saying.

(Only I’ll be wearing WAY more eye makeup.)

So, are you going? Will I see you there? You can pretty much follow along with what I’m doing on Twitter. Follow me!

Oh, and let’s have a cocktail!

Sponsored By


 

 

 

 

Cheerios® is giving you the chance to win a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, your ultimate family vacation. As part of a paid promotion for their “Do What You Love” Sweepstakes, Cheerios® is sponsoring my post today about what my ultimate family vacation would be. Read mine and Enter the Sweepstakes for a chance to actually win your own fantasy family trip or one of a bunch of other great prizes.

Every summer, from first (or maybe second) grade on, my folks and I drove from our home in Michigan up to Wawa, Ontario, for a week or two at Whitefish Lodge. You can’t find a much more remote area — Wawa is about three hours north of the U.S./Canada border, and then the lodge is another 20 or 30 minutes from Wawa. Once you reach the turnoff from the main road, you’ve still got a few kilometers down a windy, narrow dirt road before you reach the end, and your reward — a group of lovely, authentic log cabins overlooking picturesque Whitefish Lake, a body of water flanked by unspoiled hills and mountains on every side.

My parents fish, you see, and that’s what our family vacations generally revolved around.  We went to the same place, eventually picking our favorite cabin and coming back to it, year after year. We hit the best fishing spots and, though the scenery remained much the same, our memories from each year were just a little different. Some years, the weather was warm and I would swim and tube behind the boat (at least, until my screams of “Go faster! Faster!” coincided with an ill-timed wave and flipped me off the tube), and others, it would be cold and rainy and we’d focus on blueberry pancakes. The set-up was so perfect that my parents eventually ended up buying a place just down the road from the lodge.

 

beach sunset

Not Hawaii, but still pretty

 

As much as I enjoyed these trips, my idea of the perfect family vacation couldn’t be more different. Sure, there’s a part of me that very much appreciated the comfort of returning to the same place each year (like the St. Pete/Redington Beach area, obviously), sleeping in the same bed, seeing the same people and having many of the same adventures. But, as I got older, met Jared, and we began to travel a bit more on our own, we discovered that we seem to have the most fun when we’re someplace entirely new. Especially if the ocean is nearby.

The ultimate vacation for our little family of two would be filled with sand and sea, but also exploration, knowing something new awaits us every morning. So, I think our ideal trip would have to be two or three weeks in Hawaii. Jared has been once, just for a few days for work, and I’ve never even set foot on the soil.

The dream Hawaii vacation would include a few days on all the islands. On Oahu, we’d watch the surfers on North Shore (and get lessons somewhere with considerably less-intimidating waves — and hey! I could cross “learn to surf” off my life list!) and have some drinks on Waikiki Beach. We’d go whale watching in Maui, and get a little closer than we probably should to an active volcano on the Big Island. One of my best friends counts taking a helicopter ride over Kauai as one of the defining moments in her life, so there’s no way we’d miss that. We’d learn how to hula on Molokai (well, at least I would), and, on Lanai, we’d hike and relax.

Hawaii is a huge draw to our family in so many ways. It’s an incredibly versatile vacation with loads of wildlife and nature and unparalleled beauty, but there’s also so much to learn about Hawaii’s culture and history. Also, from what I understand, the seafood is positively magnificent — I’m crossing my fingers I don’t decide to go full-out veg before we make this trip!

And, for those of you who are wondering, we will make this trip. It might not be in the next year or two, but we fully intend to go while hiking and biking and surfing day after day still sounds like a good idea. But, here’s the kicker — the moment we get home, I’ll have a new Ultimate Vacation in mind. Because, you know, the best vacations are the ones you have not yet taken, right?

Don’t forget to enter the “Do What You Love” Sweepstakes, for a chance to win your own ultimate family vacation. I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do.

kristen post race beer

Post-race beer is the best beer.

Last night was the beer run. No, not our regular weekly (nightly?) beer run, but the actual race. The one I was telling you about. The one for which I’d set a couple of lofty goals.

I fell short. Quite short, actually. As a matter of fact, I ran a few seconds slower than my normal time. But, before you get too upset with me or start showering me with pity, I promise I have a great excuse explanation — you see, I haven’t been running in the last couple of weeks. See? Now it all makes sense.

The first time my left foot experienced the utter tragedy that is plantar faciitis, I was just starting to run with some consistency, probably 5 or 6 years ago. Maybe a little more. I didn’t know what it was, so I thought, oh, I’ll just stretch and ice a little and keep going. The “keep going” part proved to be problematic, landing me with a foot in so much pain that I was on crutches for two days, and couldn’t sleep for a couple of nights because there was no position in which I could hold the foot that didn’t make me want to cut it off and beat somebody with it. It was really unpleasant, but I learned that I needed to follow most of my runs with an ice bath or ice pack to the foot, and, when I felt that old familiar tightness, it would be in my best interest to just stop.

So, a couple of weeks ago, after a really, really good run (of course), my foot started acting up, and, knowing that I wanted to do this race, I decided to take it easy and just get my exercise by swimming and doing yoga. I even stopped wearing flip flops, and I’m not sure you understand how difficult a feat that is for me.

Anyway, bottom line is, I completed the race. I did four miles in a little under 41 minutes. Honestly, under normal circumstances, I’d be pissed, but, you know, I was still able to finish, and for the most part, I really did run. If I hadn’t been putting in the hard work prior to the injury, I have no doubt I would’ve logged a much slower time.

And Jared bought me a beer afterward. I might be limping today, but you won’t hear me complaining. (Much.)

Well, hello there, 3:30 a.m. I wish I could say it’s nice to see you again, but I can’t. I wish I could banish you to my unconscious while I have dreams about flying above the trees and kissing Heath Ledger, but, you know, I can’t.

I remember not-so-many years ago, early morning hours, such as yourself, generally meant pizza and beer runs and the occasional sneaking into some other apartment complex’s pool. I greeted you over-enthusiastically and glassy-eyed, the way one might greet an old co-worker they run into at a bar just before last call. Under normal circumstances, such a meeting would involve a hello and maybe a few other pleasantries, not bear hugs and details about my life.

But now … oh, things have changed. When last we met just a few days ago, it was in the Emergency Room for my father. You see, he’d already been released from the hospital for a minor surgery, but you couldn’t let us just have him back that easily. Around 11 p.m., we called 911 and sent him on back, and around this time on Thursday, I was standing next to his hospital bed watching Nancy Grace and talking to his doctor about scalloping but silently being scared out of my mind praying over and over again that he would just be ok. Fun times, 3:30 a.m.

Now that he’s home and recovering, what’s the deal? Are you feeling lonely? Because you’ve brought me back, this time with a sick dog. Yuki isn’t well, and you’d better believe me when I tell you to leave her the hell alone.

We’d put her on new meds for her anxiety (her fear of thunderstorms worsened into something else entirely when construction and, therefore, giant, rumbling trucks were occurring right outside our door — and there’s still an empty lot next to us, so it’s not over), and after three weeks, they kicked in. They kicked in, and kicked her ass — she was unsteady on her feet, running into walls (and spending hours just staring at walls), panting … just a huge mess.

After a visit to the vet, we decided to wean her off the meds, which we’ve done. And now, seriously, what the hell? She’s having the exact same problem, and I can’t fix it. It’s like a child with night terrors — she seems to have almost no understanding of where she is or the fact that I’m trying to help.

Jared stayed up half the night with her, and I took the early morning shift. What’s that you say? She’s just a dog? Come here and say that to my face. She’s my friend who’s been by my side for seven years, never asking for anything more than to be fed and cared for. She’s my family, and 3:30? BACK. OFF.

And now, as I threaten you, 3:30, I realize an hour has passed. I’m not finding 4:30 any more enjoyable, to be sure, it seems a little less … obscene. People actually get up at 4:30 a.m. I’ve gotten up before at 4:30 for various things — it’s almost like actual morning. You, on the other hand, 3:30, you are a bitch, and I don’t plan to see you again for a long time.

I just can’t seem to commit. No, not to my marriage (Mom and Mom-in-Law — put the phone down). The thing I’m wishy-washy about is sure to bring me far more pain than Jared ever will. Or at least I sure hope so.

I went to the gym with my neighbor the other day, and she mentioned that she and her husband were planning to do a half-marathon at the end of February. February, 2010. That seems like a nice, long way off. And so, of course, doing the race sounds like a great idea.

The problem is, I’ve done one of these before.

That smile has nothing to do with the fact that I'd run 13.1 miles. It was only there because I knew I'D NEVER HAVE TO DO THAT AGAIN.

That smile has nothing to do with the fact that I'd run 13.1 miles. It was only there because I knew I'D NEVER HAVE TO DO THAT AGAIN. My friend, Jami, though -- she was ACTUALLY smiling.

It was hard. Like, really, really hard. The training was tough, but not all that bad because, well, I didn’t really do it. I think I ran 10 miles at one point, but until race day, I’d never done 13.1. Thirteen point one freaking miles, people.

(And hey, you — the one who runs marathons with the kind of speed I reserve for running after a child who stole my ice cream? You can kindly keep your pie hole shut, thanks. For regular, human people, 13.1 miles is a long goddamn distance to run.)

Anyway, for many months after the race (which was in December 2006, I believe), I swore I’d never do anything like that again. And then, a funny thing happened. I started to want to run one again. I guess I just wanted to prove I could do it again, or something equally insane. I’m pretty sure it’s the lame ass runner’s equivalent to women forgetting how awful labor was when they decide to have another baby.

So, when my neighbor, who just had a baby, as a matter of fact, mentioned training for this, I said something like, “Holy hell that’s a terrible idea! Don’t you know how hard that is?” Only it came out more like, “You know, that sounds like fun. I’d love to train with you.”

(It should be noted that I initially called her to see if she’d like to come over for happy hour and instead asked if she wanted to go to the gym. Days like that, I should just keep my pie hole shut.)

So. End of February. Running 13.1 miles. But at least there should be pirates and beer. Lots and lots of beer.

random winner tropicanaI had an amazing weekend with the lovely folks at Tropicana (and don’t worry, I’ll be writing plenty about it in the days to come). In fact, I was so busy that I didn’t have a chance to select a winner of the Tropicana fruit and juice basket until today!

I wish I could send delicious, healthy deliciousness to all of you, but, alas, there can only be one winner. Congrats to clarecd, who said, “Papaya is one of my faves. But there’s nothing like a nice, cold glass of OJ in the morning!” I’ll contact you shortly to get your address, and then you’ll get your yummy, yummy fruit basket. Whee!

There will be much, much more to come, but for now, I’m going to sit back and enjoy my fermented grape juice and pretend that dinner will make itself. (Shut up. You don’t know unless you try.)

(Alternate title: OMG OMG OMG I get to leave the house!!!!)

Over the next couple of weeks, my job has me traveling. I KNOW — the hermit will actually leave her office. Hope you were sitting down for that.

First things first: I’m going to BlogHer in Chicago, and seriously, people, I could NOT be more excited. I get to meet — IN PERSON — some of my favorite internet coworkers. There will be drinks and parties and probably even some hugs. Hugs that I’m already okay with.

I really, really hope you were sitting down for that.

Aside from the schmoozing and the chatting and the trading of makeup and talking about shoes, I’ll be doing some learning. The first bit of that will come courtesy of Ford, as I’m attending their What Women Want Vehicle Tech and Event. So, I’m coming to you — what do you want in a vehicle? I know what’s important to me — a vehicle needs to fit all of my stuff, plus two dogs. But, it needs to get reasonably good gas mileage and — most importantly — it has to look cool.

Now, let’s move ahead to the following weekend, when I’ll be heading back to Chi-town for another conference. This one is sponsored by Tropicana, and is much, much smaller. I’ll be accompanied by my friend, Fitz, and we’ll be learning about food, fitness, and sustainability. One of the things that I’ve had a hard time with regarding Tropicana is that I feel like juice is just empty calories — if I’m gonna drink my calories, I’d better at least be getting buzzed, you know? But they have some cool recipes using juice (which sneaks lots of great nutrients into your food).

But I want to find out what you want to know. Are you worried about any part of the juice-making process? Are you looking for a different product? What makes you choose one brand over another, and what would change your mind?

Talk to me, folks. I promise I’ll try to make it worth your while — stay tuned!

Okay, internet, I have a major decision, and I’m just not sure what the right thing to do would be.

I had a pair of sandals. I bought them last summer at Macy’s (on sale) and I loved them. They went with just about everything, and were that perfect mix between casual and dressy that you just don’t often find. And, they didn’t make my feet scream, which doesn’t happen all that often (why do you think I generally stick to Reefs of All-Stars? For the look?).

I guess a visual would help:

gladiator-sandal-chinese-laundry

Do you understand now?

Anyway, I broke them. I actually broke the sole in half (I believe this could have occurred when I wisely decided to wear them line dancing with my mom). And I was devastated.

But! I found them again, at Heels! There are just two problems:

1. You know, they broke the first time I owned them. How long will they last this time?

2. I know I didn’t pay that much for them the first time around.

But I love them. I’ll be kinder, gentler, more considerate this time around. Maybe the broken sole was totally my fault. (Do I sound like I’m in an abusive relationship or something?)

Help! What do I do?

Last night, Jared was talking to some of the big wigs from Sunglass Hut (where he used to work), and I found it funny that they continually referred to it as “The Hut.” As we walked out, I asked him if there had ever been any confusion with that. Because, I’m sorry, but if you say something about “The Hut” to me, I’m always gonna assume you’re talking about Pizza. Then again, I like to think people are referring to pizza a lot of the time, but that’s a whole different post.

Anyway, fast foward to today, when this is released: Pizza Hut changes its name. “Pizza Hut reportedly is slicing the “pizza” from its name. The fast food chain will now be known simply as ‘The Hut.'”

DUDE. We’ve both checked for bugs, but you know The Man. He’s sneaky.

However, if The Man is still spying on me, I do have one thing to point out. So, the name change is an “attempt to transform its stores into hip hangouts.” And what other changes will they make in order to create a hip atmosphere?

“They will include televisions that broadcast CBS programs such as ‘Wheel of Fortune’ and ‘Entertainment Tonight.'” Yep, all the cool kids are gonna be scrambling to get to The Hut on Friday nights.

And now? Yeah, I want pizza. And also a tiki hut, just to mix things up.

This week, Jared was back in one of the many parts of Florida in which he spent his formative years. And of course, he had some observations to share:

I was driving by the Humane Society in Ft. Lauderdale today and noticed two signs hanging outside the facility.  The first one said “Hold Your Birthday Party Here!!”  The second exclaimed “Summer Camp Sign Up Starts Today!”   Hold on a minute here.  Is the Humane Society all of a sudden like the new O2B Kids?

I used to work at this very Humane Society (way back) in my high school days.  It was very difficult to go home each day without taking one of the animals home.  Seems like a pretty sneaky (or ingenious!) way to get kids to take home an animal.  “Hi Jimmy, how was summer camp today?” “Great, mom. We played soccer, made macaroni necklaces, and I brought home a puppy!” No way a kid could spend all day at an animal shelter and not want to bring home every single animal they come across.

Even worse is a birthday party.  You send little Jimmy off to a birthday party and he comes home with a party favor bag and inside … a kitty!!!!  This shelter seems to be trying awfully hard to get kids into their facility and will probably pressure them a little to adopt an animal.

This Humane Society is named after Wayne H Huizinga’s wife.  Was this his idea? It seems eerily similar to the fire sale that was the 1997 World Series Champion Florida Marlins.  The following year Wayne practically posted signs begging teams to take players off his hands. “Hey Jimmy anything cool happen today?” “Yeah I picked up Bobby Bonilla at a birthday party today! It was AWESOME.”

Editor’s note: All this, and he still won’t let me get another dog. Sheesh.