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The Delafield Hotel – Delafield, WI

Dear Travel Diary,

Before we enter this delightful boutique hotel, I must first introduce you to the City of Delafield.

Considered a suburb of Milwaukee yet located in Waukesha County, this riverside town of less than 10,000 carries an old-world charm that is typically characteristic of Europe. The historic downtown, the charming shops and wineries – it all creates this escape that makes you feel like you’re much further from a major city than you really are.

Truthfully, when we lived in Hartland, we did ourselves a great disservice by leaving Delafield largely unexplored.

But in the dialogue that motivates us all to “live life to its fullest,” The Delafield Hotel speaks for itself.

Immediately upon crossing its threshold, I was wrapped in this beautiful blend of contemporary-meets-eclectic styling. Though the color scheme was dark, the atmosphere was warm. I couldn’t resist opening the camera on my phone and snapping away. I was inspired by it all.

The environment is sophisticated. I wanted to put on a dress and order a glass of Malbec in the hotel’s bar, then sit on the strategically-placed tufted benches in the corner. I was isolated from the crowd yet present in the companionship of those I was with.

And yet, I was completely relaxed. Though I had the aid of the Malbec I sipped, I was asleep before my head hit the pillow of the bed in one of the hotel’s 38 guest suites.

If you wish to go, start with the hotel’s Web site.

Then, arrive and enjoy a drink at i.d. Bar, which is onsite.

But it isn’t until you retreat to your room that you’ll understand why it’s described as one of “the ultimate Wisconsin luxury hotel accommodations.”

The bathroom fixtures are all Kohler, another Wisconsin-based icon.

My brother, mother, sister and I - my siblings and I were raised by just her, and it was wonderful to experience The Delafield Hotel with her. And see what I mean about that Malbec? Relaxed and sophisticated, just like the hotel ...

Cheers, friends!

The 2017 JDRF ONE Walk - Mall of America, MN

Dear Diabetes Diary,

I wish this event didn’t exist.
I wish we didn’t have a reason to be here.
And I wish like hell my daughter didn’t have to wear the blue shirt as we walked.

(Time to carb load before walking around the MoA)

On the other hand, I am so grateful such research foundations contribute to the advancement of diabetes management. 

The insulin pump?
The Artificial Pancreas?
Improved testing and education?
The hope that drives us all?

It can all be traced to fundraising walks like this.

So, each year for the past 3 years – I wrestle with an overwhelming combination of resentment and gratitude as we walk around the Mall of America. The event itself is simple, really. Participants gather in the rotunda before walking around for an hour. The impact is much more profound, however. 

There, Madelyn is surrounded by others just like her.

Others wearing fanny packs, with visible Dexcom sensor pods on their triceps, dressed in the “diabetes blue” t-shirts. Amongst this crowd, she is joined by so many who share her story and her fight. Here, we can test in the open. Here, we take a stand against Type 1 Diabetes to say “one day, we will win.”

Our team’s contributions are but a small brushstroke in the big picture of the fundraising total. But, it’s a contribution just the same – one I am motivated to continue. For as long as Madelyn has T1D, we will be here. We will walk. And we will not be sidelined.

When it’s over, celebrations ensue.

I find it highly coincidental that this event has fallen on Madelyn's birthday weekend. For the 2018 walk, I'm planning to employ a few year-long fundraising ideas. I'm curious and challenged to raise as much as possible.

Valley of Fire State Park - Overton, NV

Dear Travel Diary,

This is one of the most breathtaking parks I have ever visited.

I've seen the Badlands in South Dakota. I've explored the Garden of the Gods in Colorado. And though both of these sites are beautiful in their own right, neither stopped me dead in my tracks like Valley of Fire.

We stopped at golden hour. The park lived up to its name.

Mountain man

I was on a mission to see wildlife in this park. I saw a bighorn sheep - never saw a turtle though, and THANK GOD we never saw a rattlesnake!

I appreciated the many airplane contrails visible above the rock formations.

This sunset. I'm speechless.

See what I mean about the park living up to its name?! The sunset seemed to light the rocks on fire. It was positively brilliant.

My favorite thing to do is to bypass posted signage in pursuit of a pretty picture.

If you ever find yourself in Las Vegas, do not hesitate to venture off the Strip. You never know what gems you'll discover along the way.

5 Trip Recaps of My Recent Travels for '5 on Friday:'

The Hoover Dam - Boulder City, NV

Dear Travel Diary,
On Day 2, we rented an SUV and drove to Boulder City.

Constructed between 1931 and 1936, the Hoover Dam was built along the Nevada/Arizona state line during the Great Depression. It's construction was ordered by FDR to get people back to work, however the project cost approximately 100 lives. The dam was controversially named for President Hoover instead.

This pedestrian walking bridge that overlooks the sight earned a big NOPE from our tourist crowd due to its height - and generally speaking, I don't fear heights.

The skill of the engineering combined with the sheer size was absolutely mind-boggling.

As you can see, the water is very low. The white rock displays the original water line in the reservoir.

The Hoover Dam impounds Lake Mead {above} - the largest reservoir in the United States when it's full.

(You cannot tell me there isn't a mermaid living in this pool.)

I am really glad we stopped here. Walking across the Hoover Dam, crossing between Arizona and Nevada - it all added up to a worthwhile experience. I felt incredibly small yet humbled by this man-made structure that to this day supplies power to the surrounding area.

Las Vegas, NV

Dear Travel Diary,

Fair warning – as I write this, I’m fully caffeinated.

It’s helping pull the frenzy of Las Vegas to the surface. It’s that confounding. From the time I landed at McCarron, I lost track of time. I lost sight of what day it was. I was overstimulated the entire duration of our trip, as it is literally an assault on the senses. In the end, it was one of those experiences I am thankful to have but not necessarily ready to repeat anytime soon. I would need a very specific reason to return.

(The Flamingo Hotel)

 (With live Flamingos in its habitat area)

Still, there were a few firsts achieved:
-We stayed at the oldest hotel on the Las Vegas strip – The Flamingo.
-I saw the Hoover Dam.
-I stood in two places at once, as I “straddled” the state line between Nevada and Arizona.
-I explored one of the most beautiful state parks – the Valley of Fire. It reminded me a lot of Garden of the Gods in Colorado, but we were at Fire at sunset. I was completely astounded with the beauty of this place.
-I sat front row for a comedy show at Planet Hollywood.
-We ate at Wahlburgers, and if you’re aware of my childhood New Kids On The Block obsession, then you know this was a big moment for me.
-I tried Roulette, and walked away $5 ahead so I was satisfied.
-And I received my first exposure and early tutorials to Craps.

(The Fountains at The Bellagio)


Story Time!
I swear if Nick didn’t witness this, he nor anyone else would believe me – I was reverse pick-pocketed.

Do you know what that entails? It’s like pick-pocketing, but instead of taking something from someone, the picker gives something to someone.

On our last full day in Las Vegas, Nick and I took a walk through The Venetian. It’s a beautiful hotel, but that’s beside the point. The time had come to make our way back to our hotel to dress for dinner and a comedy show we had tickets to. Suddenly, this 4-person crowd starts hollering behind us.

“Ma’am! Oh my gosh, you have money literally falling out of your pockets!” (They all scored points for their dramatic performances.)

Confused, we turn around and I was not shy about the WTF expression on my face.

The $20 bill that was literally falling out of my back pocket was then pressed into my hand. Even Nick was like, What the hell?! Uhh, thank you?”

Still speechless, I put the bill in my travel wallet … where I kept my money the entire trip … because you know, THIEVES … so I know there is no way I would have put anything in a pocket or someplace that could be easily taken from me.

I never felt anything.
I never saw anything.
I have no idea what happened, other than I walked away $20 richer without having to play a game of chance.


Though I couldn’t call in to work “rich” on Thursday, at least Las Vegas didn’t live up to its other nickname – “Lost Wages.”

I did however, receive one of the best payouts on the planet. After landing at MSP, I picked up the kids from school after not seeing them since Saturday afternoon. Their smiles as they ran to me for a hug (even too-cool Landen) was the most rewarding part of the trip.

Through the Airplane Window

Dear Travel Diary,
We're back with more #photoginflight cloudscapes and views from above! I flew MSP-LAS on Saturday afternoon (Nick met me later that evening) and I scored an upgrade to Delta Comfort. My seat and experience lived up to the name of the cabin. And since I had a window seat, I ignored the questioning glances of my fellow passengers to snap these pictures -

Departing a snowy MSP ...
The cotton candy-colored sunsets seen from an airplane are incredible.
Not sure what state we were flying over when this came into view, but I was struck by the color and texture of this landscape.

Touchdown at LAS - see the Strip in the background? The gentleman seated beside me finally commented on my picture-taking and asked if it was my first time to Vegas.

I admitted that it was.

Stay tuned for my Las Vegas recap!

Five "Through the Airplane Window" Pictures for ...


Crushing that Bucket List: #88 Pose With A Figure At A Wax Museum

Dear Diary,

If you review my ‘101 in 1001’ list, you’ll notice an entry that aims to “pose with a figure at a Wax Museum.”

On February 10, I knocked that one out of the park by visiting a Wax Museum that puts Madam Tussaud’s to shame. (In the interest of full disclosure, I'm marking this as "done" because it was such a PROUD MOM moment for me.)

As part of a school project to study historical figures and learn public speaking, the fourth grade at the kids’ school curated their own Wax Museum. The students chose their icon, researched and prepared a brief biography about him or her, then set up a “booth” complete with full costume.

I was completely impressed with not only the kids’ attention to detail, but also how poised and articulate they were. There were quite a few parents gathered, and if the kids were nervous about the crowd, they did a good job to overcome it.

Landen chose Henry Ford - creator of the Model T, the efficient production assembly line, and the 5-day work week.

Good job, Landen!

I'm Not Apologizing.

Dear Renovation Diary,

In the process of putting our house together, we’ve torn everything apart.

God bless this mess.

It was on Halloween when we decided to paint the interior. Everything was in complete disarray, furniture where it shouldn’t be, edges still taped off, and random piles of clutter that brought on a little anxiety.

The house was in a state of utter chaos, so you know what we did?

We invited people over.

We took Landen and Madelyn trick-or-treating around our neighborhood, and all the while, we had some fun with friends. 

When we returned to the house, despite its unsightly and unkempt appearance, they hung out. The conversations continued, as did the laughter. 

It was then I realized I need not apologize for the state of my house.

It was like an Avalanche of DUH had cascaded upon me – no shit my house will be disordered. We’re renovating it. The mess is to be expected. Therefore, I'm not letting it prevent the opportunity for some fun, companionship and spending time with those we care about.

So I’m not apologizing.

The Mary Tyler Moore Statue - Minneapolis, MN

Dear Diabetes Diary,

Maybe you don't follow her career, or haven't watched something she starred in, or consider yourself a fan - but you know her by name: Mary Tyler Moore. Everyone knows this actress. She's also involved with JDRF as their international spokesperson, as she's lived with diabetes for years.

What I didn't know, however, was that Minneapolis was home base for the television show that bears her name, The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

On May 8, 2002, a bronze statue was unveiled to honor this connection.

Located in the Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis, the statue depicts the iconic hat toss she'd perform in the show's opening sequence.

Mary Tyler Moore was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes when she was 33 years old. On January 25, 2017, the iconic star passed away at age 80.