Author Archives: Whine Less

About Whine Less

Mom of two girlies. Hiker. Runner. Nature lover. Vegetarian. Coffee fiend. Music junkie. Bad dancer. Love my big family. Blessed.

Florida Family Vacation 2016

We just returned Wednesday from a 9-day family vacation in Kissimmee, Florida. Get ready for a photo dump!

We hit all the usual tourists sights, starting with Disney Springs for some shopping on our first full day there.

cousins, family vacation, disney springs

The kids outnumbered the adults this year!

merry-go-round, carousel, disney springsThe following day we donned our family vacation shirts and hit up Disney World’s Magic Kingdom. They wanted to take a silly picture…vacation shirts, family vacation, disney world, magic kingdom

… but I think only half of them got the message.

I must say the vacay shirts were an awesome idea! It made it so easy to find each other when needed in a crowd. We wanted something lightweight in a bright color. Next time we need to splurge for a dri-wicking shirt, but the color was perfect and really stood out. We received a lot of compliments on them from other park goers and extra attention from staff members.

disney, goofy

disney, donald duck, cousins

The following day we were all still tired from a 14-hour day in the park, so we relaxed and did a bit of shopping.

Hoppy bought her very first Vera Bradley bag and wallet using her own money she made selling some of her crafts!

shopping, vera bradley

She was so cute comparing all of the patterns, sizes, and prices. She really wanted a crossbody bag like my girls and I all have and she got one!

The next day we were all ready for a beach day. The original plan was to go to our favorite Clearwater Beach, but their forecast called for storms all day. No bueno. We decided to switch directions and head to the Atlantic coast. Cocoa Beach was the closest so that’s where we ended up.

cocoa beach

cocoa beach, waves, atlantic ocean

It was so fun! I had picked up a bodyboard the day before to try out. The kids and I loved it!

Another first for me? Seeing a sea turtle nest! How cool is that? The only thing cooler would have been actually seeing them hatch.

sea turtle nest, beach, cocoa beach

Then another first!!! We happened to be there the day they were launching a rocket from Cape Canaveral.

rocket launch

See the gray clouds right above the middle of the pier? That’s where the rocket took off from. We watched it go higher and higher with its fire boosters (orange arrow). It was pretty far up in the sky before the sound of its lift off ever reached us. Amazing.

After we wore ourselves out in the waves and sun, we needed food ASAP!

family dinner, family vacationAnd adult beverages! Midday adult beverages because VACATION. And seven adults and eight kids in one house for nine days. Lord have mercy. Kidding! It was totally fine. We rented a house with 7 bedrooms and 4.5 bathrooms at the same resort in Kissimmee as our last family vacation there the summer before last.

emerald island resort, florida

There was plenty of room for everyone! The cost of renting a house is so much cheaper than a hotel. And we got to cook our own meals. We cooked breakfast at home everyday. And had at least one more meal at home each day. Plus, we had our own pool! I think almost all of the houses at that resort have private pools, plus a large pool for the entire resort at the clubhouse. We again made the most of our pool with nightly volleyball games.

swimming pool, water volleyball

Notice the net? Last vacay’s “net” was something we pieced together. Tragic. This year we came prepared, lugging that net all the way from home! Worth it.

The next couple of days were spent at Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. All the rides!

universal studios islands of adventure

cousins, universal islands of adventure

As a family, we had a great time, but of course, we were right in the middle of the saddest time in Orlando. All three tragedies (the murder of Christina Grimme, the worst mass shooting in American history, and the alligator attack and death of 2-year-old Lane Graves) happened while we were there. As you can imagine, the entire area was in mourning, in shock, and on high alert.  So very, very sad.


Another incident that didn’t make the national news really scared us. Monday while we were at Islands of Adventure, we could suddenly see a large black cloud of smoke rising. We couldn’t tell if it was coming from inside the park or very close by, but I could tell it was a massive fire. I asked a couple of park workers, but they hadn’t seen it and then were shocked when we pointed it out. We didn’t know if we should leave the park or wait for more information. At that point, I was beyond nervous given the terrorist attack the previous day. I finally called the local fire department’s non-emergency number to inquire. They informed me it was a structure fire at a construction site at the theme park next to ours. We were relieved to find out it was not another attack on innocent people.

Tell me your summer vacation plans!

Any firsts for you lately?


Healing Woods

How was your weekend? Ours was FAN.TAS.TIC! I was sick for the last two weeks and then I started feeling a bit better Friday afternoon. Finally! Saturday I woke up feeling like my old self. I was ready to get out of the house. I needed to be outside and in the woods! OMG Becky was more than happy to join me and Stella’s always ready to go.

hike, woods, trail

We went to one of my favorite trails. It’s a short one but has lots of ups and downs and rocks and tree roots to navigate. We were here just a couple of weeks ago and it is so much more green now with pops of color from blooming wildflowers. So pretty!

The pond was full of lounging frogs.

frog, pond

They usually jump as soon as they hear us getting anywhere near the pond. Plop, plop. For whatever reason yesterday, they let us get really close. IMG_4356IMG_4357How cute is that guy?! He was huge. Like the size of an 6-week old kitten! He’s for sure the largest frog I have ever seen in the wild.

Totally random, but on the other side of the lake we ran into a group of Spyder riders.


This lake is always a popular place for motorcycle rides, but this was the first time we had seen a group of Spyders there or anywhere actually.

Saturday night I went to dinner with my mom. We tried a new-to-me Italian restaurant. My dish was just okay. My mom loved hers and has had it a few times. OMG Becky has been there before and didn’t like it the first time she went, but loved whatever she ordered the second visit. Not sure if I will give it another try.

Our Sunday was a busy one! I made it to church, brunch, recycling center, grocery store and then finally home to get started on laundry. After I got that going, OMG Becky and I did a little fun shopping! We bought her some new trail running shoes and workout shirts. We also picked up a few items for her grad party. It’s going to be here before we know it!  :-(

After getting all of our chores done and picking up Sassy from their dad’s, Becky and I hit the trails for a run next to the lake. (Sassy didn’t join us because she was worn out from camping at another lake since Friday.)

trail, woods

OMG Becky’s a bit faster than me. Can you see her? She’s that tiny pink dot way, way down the trail. Brat. Poor Stella didn’t know what to think. She’s usually a great running partner, but she kept turning to look at me. She really is a mama’s girl. Becky was not happy with her. Ha!

I should mention, just before I took that picture, Becky was startled when a deer ran across the trail right in front of her. And it was close, maybe just 8-10 yards away. Stella was going nuts wanting to chase it. Not sure what she thinks she would do if she actually caught it!

Then we came across something on the trail that took us a minute to figure out what the heck it was…

turkey vulture

A turkey vulture! Yikes! It took off in flight once we got a bit closer. I tried to get a picture of that, but running and picture-taking just don’t mix sometimes.

Being outside this weekend really healed my soul. I was in desperate need to be in the woods after being stuck inside so much lately. It truly is my happy place! I now feel recharged and ready to tackle a busy week at work.

What do you do to recharge your mind, body, or soul?

What’s the oddest animal you have seen on a hike/run/walk?

Music Moves Me

Time for another edition of Music Moves Me! Yippee! Before we get started… What do you use to find out more info about a new song? I use the Shazam app because I like that it keeps a list of songs I have tagged until I delete them. My girls tend to just ask Siri who is singing the song.

Now let’s get to the music!

Have you heard Elle King yet? She is awesome! (Did you know she is Rob Schneider’s daughter?) When I was on a roadtrip for work a couple of weeks ago, I was stuck in the car close to six hours in a 24 hour period. Elle’s song American Sweetheart was all over Sirius radio.

Not complaining that it has been stuck in my head since then!

Another great song about women I currently love? Woman by Awolnation.

I kind of want to be in that video!

Loving Pitbull’s Messin’ Around ft Enrique Iglesias. It may be my song of the summer! Or at least the song of my spring.

Now I’m ready for the video to come out!

I have a fantastic job that allows me to listen to pretty much any music I want at a pretty high volume even though we have patients around. We find it motivates them, creating a fun atmosphere in the clinic. Anyway, I usually listen to a local independent radio station because it doesn’t play commercials, doesn’t repeat songs multiple times a day, plays a lot of alternative (my favorite!), and it plays and supports local music. Kiss This by The Struts is played on it daily and I have to crank it up!

Seriously, how could you possibly listen to that on any level other than ridiculously loud?!

Have you seen this video for I Took a Pill in Ibiza by Mike Posner?

I really liked the song but after seeing this video, I am in love with it!

My current favorite cool down song after a workout? Antidote by Travis Scott (explicit lyrics).


I have to thank Sassy for sharing that one with me!

An oldie that is a new favorite. Can I Kick It? by A Tribe Called Quest.

And who doesn’t dig a look back at those awesome 90’s fashion?

Do you remember early 90’s fashion? What was your favorite trend? I remember hair. Hair so big it won’t fit in a school picture big.

What song is currently ruling your playlist?


SLS3 Dual Pocket Run Belt Review & Giveaway

Awhile ago, I was sent a complimentary SLS3 Dual Pocket Run Belt to try out in exchange for my review. I gave myself time to actually try it out on several occasions before sharing my thoughts.

Dual Pocket Run Belt, run belt

The verdict? I really like it!

I love the convenience of two pockets. I put my phone in one and my car key in the other. Why would that matter? Have you ever lost your car key on a trail? Super fun trying to find that. With two pockets, I never had to worry about my key falling out when I took out my phone for one of the 100 pictures I tend to take. My key is safe and secure in it’s own pocket! The pockets are both a nice size. Pictured above is an iPhone 5s with a thick Otterbox case in one pocket. The other pocket carried two dog bags and my car key. I had plenty of room for much more!

I liked that the belt is adjustable. This was great with different apparel needed for the ever-changing weather the Midwest is known for. I also never noticed this belt sliding around or bouncing. One of my favorite features? It’s water-resistant! Sweat all you want, your electronics are safe. Gotta love that!

And now is your chance to win one of these belts for yourself! Click to enter: a Rafflecopter giveaway !

Or if you can’t wait, use code BLOG40 to save 40% on your own now!

Good luck!

Want to enter more giveaways? Enter Wednesday Giveaway Round Up!

What do you carry with you on a run/walk/hike?

Almost Famous

It seems like just last month I was posting about OMG Becky being a senior this year and taking her senior pictures. How are we now just one month away from her graduation?! It’s been such a busy year for her. We had a few college visits in the fall.

college visit, university, campus

college visit, university, campus

She fell in love with the second school! She’s had a major picked out since last year. She applied, was accepted, and we started the housing process. Then a couple of months ago, she decided to change her major. With her new major, elementary education, she can attend a local community college for free (program through our school district) before transferring to the university as a junior. She will actually be a dual-student with benefits at both schools. I’m so happy she has decided to stay home a bit longer!

OMG Becky also got a new car. Very exciting for her! It wasn’t something that was planned, but after her car was totaled, it was a necessity. She was able to get exactly the car she wanted. Lucky girl! I also feel better knowing once she transfers to the school farther away, she will have a newer, more reliable car. This one should last her at least another 10 years.

We have been busy planning her grad party. She decided on a garden tea party theme. We have spent many hours driving around the lake system next to us checking out all of the shelters and what each has to offer. So many things to consider! Playground, bathroom facilities, lake view, flat area, baseball field, sand volleyball courts, basketball court, horseshoes, parking? What are our priorities?!

lake shelter, parkWe finally decided on one and reserved it as soon as reservations opened for the season in January. We were able to get our number one choice on the date we wanted! Now to decide how to decorate it and what to serve. Ugh, more decisions.

She is also having a phenomenal year in her writing. She has always been a great writer and this year is really shining. Last month we found out she was a finalist in a district-wide poetry contest. We weren’t really sure what that meant, other than we were invited to a reception where she would read her poem along with the other finals. Once there, we realized there were three finalists from each grade level 6-12. They would read their poem when they were announced where they placed starting with the 6th grade. It was a long wait, but finally it was time for the senior poems. Third place was announced, they say the school, then the teacher, and finally the name of the student. We tried not to show our enthusiasm as another school’s name was read. Next came second place. They said OMG Becky’s school, then her teacher… we were all holding our breath… then they said her classmate’s name! Trying not to smile at that point was so hard! Finally OMB Becky was announced as the seniors first place winner and invited to read her poem and receive her award.

So dang awesome! That was really the icing on the cake for her. We also found out last month she will have two of her pieces, a poem and a short story, published in a literary magazine this month. She is officially a published author! What?! I could not be more proud. And I cannot wait to get my hands on a 1000 copies of that magazine! Or at least 500.  =)

Teachers have been telling her for years she should consider writing as a profession. She is really looking forward to getting her teaching degree and having summers off to really devote time to writing while having a steady income. I think it’s the best of both worlds for her!

Next up is prom! Her dress is so gorgeous. Can’t wait to share it with you!

Did you have a grad party? Mine was a small party at home with just family. All I really remember is the cake. It was really good!

What was the best part of your senior year in high school?

Watch Your Rearview

Happy Saturday, friends! How is your weekend going? We are enjoying some fantastic weather over here! I’ve been stuck inside sick for a week now. It has not been fun, but it’s really helped to be able to have the windows open to enjoy the fresh air. Now seemed like a good time to catch up with what’s been happening around here.

Sassy turned 15 a few weeks ago, She had a great birthday that involved a trip to Starbucks in the morning, followed by a surprise pedicure, then lunch with her brother and his fiance who came in town to surprise her. One of her favorite cousins came in town for the party that night. We went to Cheesecake Factory for dinner with her friends and my parents. And then her cousin spent the night. It was a long day, but a good one!

Cheesecake Factory, cousins

Along with turning 15, she was able to get her driver’s permit. It was scary for both of us.

student driver, new driver

Doesn’t she look scared?! She should be. We were practicing in a large, empty parking lot. Then another new driver joined us to do some practicing himself… In a semi truck with a trailer!


Sassy got more nervous, real fast! Ha! Anyway, she did fine and has graduated to a busier area in a nearby park. We are not street ready yet, but maybe soon.

We also had a nice Easter, though it was a quiet one. Sassy was at their dad’s house. Most of the other cousins were out of town, too.

Easter basket, cousins

After church, we headed to my uncle’s ranch for the annual Easter dinner and egg hunt. And playing with cows. Oh my goodness, I could not get enough of them! They were so friendly and cute!

cows, ranch, cattle

And this one with the horns was the most curious, but watch out. If you tried to pet her, those horns would come right at you!

cows, ranch, pond, cattle

The hunt for the $100 egg had to be moved inside due to rain. It was a lot of people running around in a small space trying to find it. My uncle is so sneaky! You just never know where to look. OMG Becky finally found it in a pinecone.

I was so happy for her, but mad at myself. I had touched that pinecone at least twice before she picked it. Ugh! Oh well, there’s always next year. And OMG Becky is now out of the hunt. Once you find the egg, you get a lifetime ban from trying again. It’s very competitive!  =)

You can tell spring has arrived here. It arrived on a Monday. Seriously! It was a Monday that I noticed all the flowering trees had bloomed, So pretty! And it’s been so warm. We have been able to get outside and enjoy several hikes.

hike, lake, woods

hike, lake, woods

I love it! Can’t wait to get back out there. I am also signed up for a race next week that I am not at all prepared for. I signed up just two weeks ago at the intense pleading of a friend. I had hoped to get a few runs in beforehand, but this being sick business has eliminated that option. The best I can hope for at this point is good company and good weather the day of the race and enjoy the walk/run.

When is your next race?

Favorite item at The Cheesecake Factory? I always get the Chicken Piccata, minus the chicken. I can’t help it. It’s that good!

How old were you when you started driving? I was 16. That was the minimum age at the time.


Hike, Zoo, and Desserts (A Few of My Favorite Things!)

How was your weekend?

Friday, I took off work a bit early so I could get a hike in before the sun went down. It was much needed after a pretty tough week.

trail, hike, bridge

That evening, both girls went to the basketball game at their high school. I got to enjoy a quiet, empty house. It was heavenly! Why don’t basketball games last longer?…  ;-)

Saturday morning, OMG Becky attended a visitation for her former teacher. Hard morning for her. We then took ourselves to the zoo. It was a gorgeous day, almost 60 degrees. We needed to be outside!

zoo, elephant, daughters, sisterspenguin, zoored panda, zoo

The lorikeets enclosure is just nuts. Those birds fly right at you from all directions!

lorikeets, zoo

The kids wouldn’t even go in there with me. OMG Becky may have a small fear of birds. This “attraction” would not help that.

One of the funnier parts of our day… OMG Becky went into this mock meerkat burrow. As she was trying to come out, that little girl in the purple about knocked her over with an “excuse me!” as she tried to push her way in at the same time.

So funny OMB Becky was almost taken out by a seven year old.


We worked up a bit of an appetite after all of that exploring. Froyo for an almost-summer-like day!


I tried all new-to-me flavors: Salted Caramel Corn, Toasted Marshmallow, Pecan Praline, and Peppermint Stick. Yum, yum, yum, and YUM! Well, maybe except for the Peppermint Stick. It was good the first couple of bits and then started tasting very artificial. Sad, because peppermint ice cream is one of my all-time favorite flavors.

Sunday was another sad day for us. My great aunt passed away last week and we had her memorial service yesterday afternoon. We spent the morning baking cookies for a family dinner after the service.

My niece enjoyed all of the desserts. Literally, one of each type.

cupcake, niece, toddler

Her sugar crash happened shortly after that. I’m pretty sure she fell asleep maybe two minutes into their drive home.

What was the highlight of your weekend? 

What is your favorite animal at the zoo? I love to watch the penguins swimming around. They are so fast!