Monthly Archives: September 2012

My Gardner-White Blog for a Grand

Living RoomThe sectional was purchased for basement furniture. It fit in the direction we needed it to and served its purpose. Until we painted the living room and realized we needed to switch our furniture. A couch with green tones does not look good in a yellow and gold living room. Or maybe it would if we were in the 1970s and we threw in some burnt orange throw pillows.

First came kids, then came the puppies. Sure, we had the furniture spray coated but that only lasts so many cleanups.

Then came the rips (dogs, you are not back-of-the-couch cat sized)

Ripped couch

And the stains (kids and dogs, no eating or chewing on the couch)couch

Not to mention my daughter’s experiment to use her fingernail to see if she could write her name on the couch.

The dogs are now a year old, the kids are old enough to know better and it’s high time we had a new couch and chairs for this room.

Letters on couch

From Gardner-White, I’m thinking a pop of red would look good in this room.

Gardner White Red Couch

And I can see these tables going nicely with it. Gardner-White tables

Maybe this slate-colored collection? We could really use a chair or loveseat in this room, too.

See something you like? Gardner-White is hosting a grand-opening event in Auburn Hills on Oct. 13.

Gardner-White living room collection

Disclosure: Gardner-White is hosting a blogger contest and this post constitutes my submission. Thanks to Gardner-White for offering me this opportunity to humiliate my family by showing our couch wear and tear to the Internets.

Edited to add: The dogs would like you to know that throw pillows are in order, too.


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An ode to olloclip

No, this is not a paid review. Yes, this is a love story. You see, early in life I wanted to be a photographer. I took photos for the high school newspaper, yearbook, college yearbook and took photography classes at both. I also had a love affair with words, which ultimately won for a while when I became a journalist.

Olloclip fisheye lensBut I still freelanced with family photography and always had a camera with me. Until these newfangled SmartPhones came along. Then it became more difficult to carry a phone, a camera and all of the things I needed for my kids. I liked taking photos on my iPhone but didn’t like that I could zoom and use other functions like I would on a camera.

Then I saw some tweet about the olloclip. I searched for it online and my heart started to beat a little faster. I searched out some tech blogs and read reviews and looked for other iPhone lenses. Hands down, the olloclip is recommended by all.Olloclip lenses

I quickly bought it (actually, I bought two so I could give one to my husband) and waited for it to arrive. When I showed my co-worker (the video and photo guy), he went out and immediately bought his own.

The fish eye lens gives you some great effects, especially on vacation. I love this shot in New York City.

I have not used the macro lens because it appears to be for pretty close-up work, but the wide angle lens is great for everyday photos.

Now, I still haul my DSLR out when I want to use larger lenses and catch my kids’ sports and other action shots, but the olloclip on my iPhone saves the day when I need some quick shots and cool effects while out and about.

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Puppies at One Year: Less Hyper, Still Crazy

Our Mountain Feist puppies turned one year old (or 7, or 15 depending on the dog book) over Labor Day weekend.

Mountain Feist DogsWe first adopted them when they were 11 weeks old. So just about a year into it, they are potty trained (unless Spike gets super-excited when my husband comes home from a long trip), know how to sit (for the most part) and sleep well in their crate or in our bed.

The kids would love for the dogs to sleep with them and we may be reaching that point soon.  When we’ve tried in the past, I’ve had to stay by the kids’ bed until the dogs were drowsy or almost asleep. Now I’m hoping they’ve all bonded enough that they could sleep together.

Bella, the female, is still small enough to slip through our fence when she sees something especially enticing, although after being tied up a few times, she knows she should be on the inside of the fence.

Spike has some home territorial issues and raises his hackles and gets especially nervous when strangers come around. We’re still working on this and may look into a behavior specialist. He hasn’t had any problems away from the house or when my mom watches the dogs, so we’ll try to figure this out.Spike Mountain Feist

When we were talking about camping recently, I told the kids that we took our old dog with us in the camper. They were immediately excited and wanted to take Spike and Bella. I think it may be another year or two until we can get to that point. If we did it now, I could see them barking, pulling and otherwise annoying a peaceful campground.

So, after a year, the dogs are settling in with our family, learning the rules of the road yet are still young enough to keep us on our toes and mix things up. I’m looking forward to the day when I can say “I remember when” to their hyper antics and ripped up socks that we found around the house.

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A family affair at the Kohler Resort area and The American Club

Most people know Kohler for the kitchen and bathroom hardware but it’s also a lovely resort town in Wisconsin. The golfers out there know Kohler for its golf – Whistling Straights and Black Wolf Run – but I know Kohler for its family-friendly accommodations, fabulous Waters Spa and indulgent food.

Inn at Woodland Lake ShowerWhen my husband had to go to Kohler for a work trip, the family tagged along. And I do have to say, the hotel shower was exceptional. While there, we explored the Sports Core fitness facility, complete with indoor pool (and another adult pool), indoor and outdoor hottubs and a beach area with a raft that you can swim out to. The beach area is actually a small lake and connects by trail to the Inn at Woodland Lake, where we stayed. Kohler has a few hotels, and the most well-known is the historic American Club.Inn at Woodland Lake

In the middle courtyard of The American Club is an adorable stained glass greenhouse, imported from England, which houses an ice cream parlor and café. We also had a memorable brunch in the Wisconsin Room, with the best French toast ever – crème brulee!

One evening, the kids went to the Dinner & A Movie kids club and my husband and I went out to dinner at the Horse & Plow pub at the American Club. In true Wisconsin fashion, we had cheese curds, beer cheese soup and cheddar burgers – a cheese lovers’ paradise.Beer Cheese Soup at Horse & Plow

The American Club GreenhouseThe kids had a great time at their event, too. They played croquet and bean bag toss on the lawn and then settled into a conference room to watch their movie on fun bean bag chairs. Also part of the kids club, they received a goody bag on arrival, with a hat, activity book and a fold up Frisbee.

My other indulgence for the weekend was a trip to the spa, where I experienced the new Hamman Water Ritual. Pours of warm water, a body scrub and hair treatment had me relaxed and rejuvenated for the rest of the weekend.

The most memorable meal for my kids was the s’mores dessert at the BlackWolf Run Restaurant. Served with a blue flame, homemade graham crackers and homemade marshmallows, the dessert was a fun activity to end the meal.Smores at Blackwolf Run

We took a few walks around the pond and on one of the marked trails, as well as grabbed our tennis rackets and headed to the high school tennis courts. We all had a great time exploring the town, the activities and the food. It’s a great place for a family retreat.

Categories: Family Friendly Resorts, Travel with kids | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

First day of school, first cast

Well, we barely survived the first week of school. That may be an exaggeration but it sure was eventful.

The previous week, my son hurt his finger in football. I’m still unclear as to exactly what went down, as the story has changed over time to jamming his finger on someone’s shoulder practice during a drill to hitting his finger while catching a football. Whatever way it happened, the result is the same – a fractured finger.

We had been to the doctor’s office the day after it happened and they gave us a splint and set up an appointment with a specialist. Luckily, so to speak, the first day of school was a half day, so we were able to schedule an appointment with a hand specialist.

First castBecause my son is my son and is not prone to standing around and staying near the ground, the doctor recommended putting a cast on to keep the finger stable and safe. I wholeheartedly agreed after watching him trying to keep a splint on it during the previous week.

It was a great novelty for the first 24 hours or so. He came home from the next day of school and had autographs on his cast. When we went to his sister’s school’s open house, he had to make sure to visit each and every one of his previous teachers to say “hi” and receive a “what happened?” from each of them.

Then, it started to get itchy. And he wanted to bend his fingers. And he can’t catch a Nerf football, or basketball or any other ball. He was banned from his bike, his scooter and anything that would take him off of the ground. Not to mention taking a shower, which has to be “backwards” while the hand with the cast is sticking out of the curtain.

So we enter the waiting phase, and in just over two weeks, the cast will be off and we’ll see if he’ll resume his football for mid-season or if the season is over until next year.

Either way, he’ll have a very memorable first day of 5th grade.

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Kitchen and bath, designed by Kohler

My family rolled their eyes when I said I wanted to check out the Kohler Design Center while we were in Kohler. But, as an HGTV addict and Pinterest remodeling enthusiast, I knew I wanted to check it out.

Sink at Kohler Design CenterThe first thing we saw when walking in was a demonstration chair with heat technology. This translates into a hottub or whirlpool that could have heated walls with the push of a button.

Moving along, we moved into the kitchen area with gorgeous sinks and faucets (yes, sinks and faucets can be gorgeous. In the back of the room is the infamous Great Wall of China, or more accurately, a great wall of the Porcelain Gods.Kohler Great Wall of Toilets

The kids got an education with the toilet demonstrations that included built in bidet functions. They had fun getting into a few of the tubs and testing shower heads.

Moving to the lower level, this was another love of mine – history. This floor told the story of the Kohler family, the Kohler company and how they’ve changed the way people function, including the development of the first electric washing machine (thank you, Kohler!). The company started with plows and then enameled a cast iron horse trough, and the rest is history.

The Kohler Design Center was a fun diversion for the family and also include some education. I recommend a visit if you’re ever in the area.

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A sleepover at Country Inn and Suites in Gurnee, Ill.

Most people staying at the Country Inn and Suites are there for one of two main attractions: Six Flags amusement park or the Gurnee Mills outlet shopping center.

Unfortunately, we were there for neither. Ultimately, we were headed to Kohler, Wisc., and needed a place to stay for the night. My son, who is in football, was scheduled to have practice until 8 p.m. the day we left, so I searched for a hotel north of Chicago that we could stay at the for the night. Then, we could wake up, not have to battle Chicago traffic and have a short drive to our final destination.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, my son fractured his finger in a practice earlier in the week, so we were in the clear to leave after I got out of work. We had decent traffic and found our way easily to the hotel.

Country Inn and Suites GurneeWe checked in and got to the room when I checked in on Foursquare and found that we would receive a free pay-per-view movie for the check-in. When I went to the front desk, the young lady there didn’t know what Foursquare was and didn’t even know that the hotel had pay-per-view. She said she’d contact her manager and get back to us but we never heard from her again (and decided to just head to sleep).

In the morning, we got up for the included breakfast. Our kids love the waffle machines at hotels, ,along with being able to select from several types of cereals (and always on the lookout for a blueberry muffin). The hotel had all of these and breakfast was efficient and satisfying enough to get us up and moving.

We did not use the pool but it looked sufficient, yet small, for a stay but the hottub had a cover on it with caution tape. The workout room had two treadmills and an elliptical machine.

We checked out, grabbed a couple of fresh chocolate chip cookies from the counter and were on our way. Overall, the hotel meet our needs for a family overnight stay.


Categories: Travel with kids | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

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