Friday, February 5, 2016

Friday Favorites, February 5, 2016

I have been writing like crazy lately, submitting in a flurry and getting ready for the launch of new projects. Stay tuned for next week, when I will be featured at Lexi Berndt’s site Scribbles and Crumbs for a brand-new campaign she is launching; I am deeply honored that Lexi invited me to write about overcoming obstacles for her site.

The picture to the right is the view from a friend's house in Spicewood, Texas, overlooking the Pedernales River. The tree looks as if it is gently cradling the sun in its branches, and it reminds me how thankful I am for this life.

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This week, I am published at LiveMom with an interview with an Austin-based blogger and social media expert, Jennifer Borget, and at my own site with a roundup post on the Houston Auto show. Jennifer is a ray of sunshine; I love this post from Jennifer on seeing color and embracing our differences.

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Harmony Hobbs nails it on this one at Scary Mommy: be kind, not perfect.

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Just for fun, watch this. The footage from the very first Antarctic cruise is stunning.

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A cautionary tale – please be aware of these kind of IRS scams!

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Rachel’s words never, ever fail to inspire me. Her words propel me to a better life.

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Cindy Reed’s honest and raw struggle to help her daughter handle the difficulties of racial understanding blew me away this week at Brain, Child magazine.

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Jen Simon perfectly captures the fear and underwater feelings of postpartum depression in this post.

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This essay from Julie is timeless and should be required reading for just about everyone on the planet. Compassion; she gets it.

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Speaking of compassion, this video from Brene Brown perfectly illustrates the concept.

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Lindsey’s revelations here are lovely: “Perhaps because of my Puritan roots – which are both deep and irrefutable – I have long believed in my marrow that only things that are hard are meaningful.  Or maybe not only, but certainly that something being difficult makes it more likely to be valuable.  A tough climb makes the view more beautiful and all of that.”

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Do you follow me on Instagram? Here's the link! Find me at @firewheelcommunications.

Austin news:

I am now consulting for The Meditation Bar in Austin, and I have become a big fan of their practice. Yoga and meditation together is changing my life for the better. Come try a class with me if you're local!

The Hill Country Science Mill in Johnson City will celebrate its first birthday with free admission on Saturday, February 13th from 10am-4pm.

Special guest, The University of Texas Physics Circus, will entertain with exploding bottles, flying balls, an electric pickle and other science demonstrations from 1-2pm. Throughout the day, smoke ring air cannons, an interactive Lissograph and Fruity Tunes, the Science Mill’s own large-scale interactive fruit piano, will also entertain partygoers. One of the Science Mill’s silos will be converted into a slow motion photo booth.

The event is a celebration of the community’s support during its first year of operation and free admission is a “thank you” for the support! Donations will be accepted. In addition to special birthday activities, the museum will be open from 10am-4pm and a 3D movie, Dinosaurs Alive, will also play throughout the day.

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Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Houston Auto Show - Dream Gig for Car Fanatics

Alice Chase was the Thelma to my Louise on our road trip to the Houston Auto Show last week - or maybe I was Thelma and Alice was Louise? In any case, we didn’t have Brad Pitt in our car and that was disappointing. The brand-new GMC Acadia we were driving, however, was not disappointing. In fact, we enjoyed the plethora of power sources, the heated AND air conditioned seats, and the kolache/barbecue place it steered us to on the way to Houston. Although it’s possible that I saw the sign for kolaches and said “STOP THERE”.

If you don’t know Alice, go and check out all of her socialmedia channels. Not only does she have a whip-smart brain for social media, she is one of the sweetest people on the internet.

You already know how much I love cars. It’s my passion, and I owe that to my dad and all of the car shows we attended together since I was a kid. I had the best time at this show as a guest of and GMC Houston, and I’m going to tell you a little more about what I learned.

I like to ask to see under the hood, I want to know about the horsepower, I want to know about the torque. I ask about maintenance, and tires, and what kind of fuel works best. On opening night, I beelined it for the exotic car corner: Lotus, Ferrari, and Lamborghini. I rode along with Jeep and Ram, which was impressive, but I’m a sports car and classic car girl.

No, I did not plan my dress to match this car. We dubbed it "Tron Car". 

The classic car display was jaw-dropping, with some gorgeous cars from the ‘40s and ‘50s that were right up my alley. Corvettes with the distinctive, elegant concave two-toned arc swept from the sides; custom Oldsmobiles with clear-panel hoods; Chevelle Super Sports with paint jobs that made them look even faster. I hosted a Periscope broadcast from this section as I drooled over them all.

On media day, I started with press conferences from several auto brands, beginning with the Chrysler Pacifica. I’m not a minivan person, but this one is pretty fantastic. They gave all of us a road game to play that included cards describing various features; a brilliant marketing tool. My favorite press conference, however, was the Alfa Romeo; the Italian carmakers had two gorgeous vehicles on display, one a fast yellow Spyder.

Alfa Romeo Spyder

The experts I spent the most time speaking with was the Maserati team. A friend of mine has a sleek black Quattroporte, and while I have longed for one of my own, I thought it was out of my price range. I was happily surprised to discover that the new Maserati Ghibli is closer to the price of a Lexus SUV or even a higher-range truck, and they are offering some very attractive lease options lately. Now, I have a photo of a Maserati on my bulletin board in my office for inspiration, but it’s a Granturismo, which starts at $130K+. It is a V8…  So much to love about that trident logo. Check out their site for more. I'm hoping for a full, comprehensive review later this year. 

I'm in love with a Maserati. Is that a song?

And then I got to drive.

Driving experience

The first car I tested was the Lexus RX Hybrid. I was pleasantly surprised how much I liked it, because I have not typically been attracted to the crossovers. The RX delivers 308 horsepower, pairing a V6 with the Lexus Hybrid Drive, and it’s everything you would expect from a Lexus: smooth, stylish, and elegant.

Next I took back-to-back rides in the new BMW i3 with Kim Orlando of Traveling Moms and Heidi Gollub of Free Fun in Austin driving. The carriage doors are fun, and certainly make it easier to get in and out of the small back seat. The BMW i3 has an all-electric engine, and the company claims it gets up to 81 miles per charge while the BMW i3 with Range Extender gets up to 150 miles in total range (depending on conditions, of course). Also attractive to the buyer may be the promise of up to $7,500 in tax credits; since the i3starts at $42,200, that credit could be much needed. I felt the i3 was zippy but small, and as a driver, getting used to the sudden braking when pulling my foot off the gas pedal would take some getting used to.

I waited eagerly for my turn to try out the Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid. When I got behind the wheel, I was impressed by the soft leather and large, racecar-style paddle shifters. Sadly, the route was a few short city blocks and I didn’t get to test if it could really go from 1-60 in 5.4 seconds. Next time. This Cayenne starts at $77,200 and the two advantages it has over the Tesla are the aforementioned paddle shifters, which are fun, and the fuel engine for longer road trips.  

Lastly, the Honda CRX hybrid. I couldn't believe how much I enjoyed this car: it's a two-seater, and it reminds me of my high school years. To be honest, I didn't even know Honda still made the CRX. This one is a major improvement over the CRXs from the 80s: this one has an electric drivetrain. You could actually take this on a trip and go for 500 miles without refilling the tank, if you wanted to. Starting at a little over $22,000, this would be a perfect car for someone just starting their adult working life. 

Arrivederci, Houston
Overall, this was a fun show and I learned a great deal about the cars and the people behind them. Next year, I’m bringing the whole family – at $12 a ticket, that’s great entertainment.

Oh - and be sure to stop at a Buc-ees along the way. Endless entertainment. 

Photo taken by Alice Chase
Are you following me on Instagram? Find me at @Firewheelcommunications

Disclosure: I was invited as a guest of GMC and She Buys Cars. I was compensated to attend and share my experiences with you; however, all opinions are mine.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Giveaway: two tickets to the Houston Auto Show!

This Tuesday, I'll be joining SheBuysCars and GMC for a media event at the Houston Auto Show on January 26th and 27th. Follow along on Periscope (@austinkvs) as I drive to Houston with my friend Alice Chase in a new 2016 GMC Acadia. If you know me, you know I love cars... so the opportunity to cover a car show is a dream. Alice, me, and two other Austin-area bloggers will be at the car show covering everything there is to know. 

To follow along, simply watch Twitter, Instagram, and even Periscope as we share our adventures using the hashtag #HOULovesAutos.

Some of the vehicles debuting at the Houston Auto Show include the 2017 Ford Raptor, 2017 Ford Escape, 2017 Lexus GSF Sport, 2017 Lotus Evora 400, 2016 Nissan Sentra, and 2016 Nissan Altima (I had an Altima once, and loved it). Attendees will also have a chance to see gorgeous, fun cars like Alfa Romeo 4C Spider, BMW i8, Fiat Abarth, Ford Mustang Shelby GT350, and the Lamborghini LP700 Roadster (put me behind the wheel! Please!).

For those of you who are local, I am giving away a pair of Houston Auto Show tickets good any one day of the show (prizes will not be mailed; giveaway winner must pick up the prize at the Houston Auto Show). Enter here:


WHEN: Friday, January 22, 2016 through Wednesday, January 27, 2016 at 12AM CST

WHO: @She Buys Cars, @HoustonAutoShow, @ThisisGMC @Austinkvs

WHAT: Two (2) Tickets to the Houston Auto Show

HOW TO ENTER: Enter your Twitter handle, follow @shebuyscars, @HoustonAutoShow and @Austinkvs and for additional entries (all optional), follow the prompts on the Rafflecopter, below. To be eligible to win you must enter the rafflecopter below. Prizes will not be mailed; giveaway winner must pick up the prize at the Houston Auto Show. 

Enter here:

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Favorites around the web: January 2016

It felt freeing to take the pressure off over the holidays and just roll with it. You may have noticed that I have been inconsistent in my posting, or that I'm not here every day, or maybe you have been very busy with your own families too. It's all good.

I'm ready for this new year with renewed focus and a calmer outlook due to the practice of meditation. It sounds like a whole lot of new age weirdness unless you try it, and I'm loving this way it makes me feel. It's a way of calming my overactive mind, relaxing me as much as a massage or nap. I'm handling frustrations and impatience better with more sleep at night and mindful meditation.

Out of the gate this year, I had a post up at The Washington Post's On Parenting site.  It's always a thrill for me to be published there, and if you're a writer, the editors are excellent. This essay, in case you missed it, is about how I have learned to stop buying so much STUFF for my son. I found it was too easy to buy a small thing here and there, and it adds up to both too much money and too many expectations.

Now for some of my favorites - I  have been saving some of these for a few weeks, and I hope you enjoy them:

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“How I talk becomes how she talks. My attitude becomes hers – not just toward her father but everything. How we talk to children becomes not only their inner voice but the voice they use with others. We must be conscious to speak to them and in front of them the way we hope they will speak to others.” YES, Gina.

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I found Anne's story to be both heartbreakingly beautiful and sorrowful; I am looking forward to seeing the finished product of this beautiful book.

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Christine speaks the words of my heart, too. I’m a writer who is on the sensitive side, and I sometimes spend too much time worrying about what others will think. But ultimately, I have to speak my truth and be authentically me.

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Just for fun, take a look at this link. It’s a fascinating view of New York City, long before any of us were born.

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Mandy lost her daughter seven years ago to a sudden infection, and she now writes about grief and how she deals with motherhood and life with beautiful, evocative words.

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Kathryn Streeter is a new friend who is an up and coming writer in the U.S. – she has traveled extensively throughout the world, and I love the way she describes the days with her teenage children.

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Allison Slater Tate is not only one of my favorite writers; she’s one of my favorite people. She nails it in this one. Bring the tissues.

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The statements about what women feel in this post are haunting. Thought-provoking. And true.

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Greta inspires me with her resilience and ability to see the past and glean hope from it.

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I met Betsy this summer, and she blew me away with her bubbly personality – she has been through a lot, and she’s not slowing down for a second. If you are not aware of the powerful words at The Manifest-Station, check it out now.

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Cheers to The Meditation Bar and Krista Lea, who has given me so much help with controlling anxiety and fear and filling my brain with love and hope.

Happy Wednesday! Enjoy the rest of your week.

Love, Kristin

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Austin: win a free ZiP Fast Pass for the Trail of Lights!

Austin friends - win a ZiP pass for the Trail of Lights!

Have you wanted to see the Trail of Lights, but were scared off by rumors of traffic jams and wall-to-wall people? Well, some of that is true. But wait! There is a solution: the ZiP Fast Pass. 

If you’re planning to go to the Trail of Lights, you are going to want a ZiP Fast Pass. The pass is worth $15, and gets you and any children under five in at 6 PM, which is one hour before the trail opens. The 6 PM start means you can spend an hour or two at the event and still get home in time to get the kids to bed!  Read more details about ZiP on the Trail of Lights ticket information page.

The ZiP Fast Pass gives attendees front-of-the-line access to the Trail at 6 PM, before it opens to the public. ZiP purchasers will also have access to Kringle’s Kantina and the HomeAway ZiP Lounge in the VIP Hospitality area for cookies and hot cocoa. ZiP Fast Passes are available 12/9 –17 for $15/person and $20/person 12/18 – 22. ZiP passes are an optional upgrade, but if you choose to purchase ZiP passes are required for anyone age 6+. 5 and under are free. ZiP can be purchased in advance, online or at the ZiP box office in the park. You can present your ZiP ticket at the Trail on your phone or print your pass.

The trail is open December 8-22, with free admission until the 15th. From December 16-22, admission costs $3 for 12 and over. Everything you want to know about the Trail of Lights can be found here.

Want to win one ZiP pass that will cover you and any kids under 5? See below. If you're the winner and you have two adults and two kids over age 5 in your family, you'll be covered for one, and then you'll want to go to this page to buy 3 more ZiP passes for your family. Enjoy!

How to win: leave a comment below. The winner will be picked using This giveaway will be open until noon on Friday, December 11, 2015, and the winner will be notified by 2 PM CST on that day. If the winner cannot be contacted, another entrant will be chosen.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Weekend favorites - the Good-News edition

In case you missed it, I was excited to be featured at In the Powder Room with a humor essay on... wrinkles. I don't often write humor, but this one pretty much wrote itself.

And now for reading material to brighten your weekend!

PIE... And more pie. I loved this story, because it's so vivid and personal and interesting. (It also made me hungry.)

Oh honey, what a pregnancy memory, Anna! Ha ha! 

Finding good in the toughest situations is something I admire. Lexi Behrndt does an amazing job in this piece at Brain, Child magazine.

Every time I read one of Elizabeth McGuire's posts, I feel renewed with joy. This is no exception.

I am not kidding when I tell you that I watched this video at least 10 times. Happy happy happy.

My friend Greta has four kids, and they are cute as buttons. This description of her son Henry is so sweet.

This is why I love Jill at Baby Rabies. Love is love.

Vikki and her partner face a lot of pressure to be perfect, and this story is very well told.

Daune O'Brien has a son with special needs, and they are in the battle of their life for his education. I had no idea it could be like that, and it was eye-opening to me.

Kids these days... are good and smart and kind. 

One person can make a difference. One person at a time.

A GIVING list instead of a GETTING  list. Brilliance by Val Curtis.

If someone from the Westboro Church can be convinced to change, just about anyone can.

If you're feeling hopeless and sad about gun violence this week, check out Cool Mom Picks' excellent and thoughtful ideas on how to help.

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Christmas ideas: last year, Uncommon Goods sent me some beautiful items as a gift, and  I fell in love with them.

Our WeMontage poster is brightening up my son's room now, and I am thinking about ordering more.

These marshmallows and this hot chocolate are my favorites.

Noonday Collection is based here in Austin, and they source jewelry from around the world to help families with international adoption. It's gorgeous.

Reading material: two friends of mine wrote Lose the Cape: Realities from Busy Modern Moms and Strategies to Survive.  Now they are getting ready to launch Lose the Cape: Never Will I Ever (and then I had kids!). Lots of fun stories here. In the same vein, check out Norine and Jessica's Science of Parenthood - it is entertaining, hilarious, and validating.

Love, Kristin

Friday, November 13, 2015

Weekend favorites - November 13

In case you missed it, my debut post at VProud went live yesterday! What it's really about is rising from the ashes of your life to find redemption and joy. If you're a writer and you want to post somewhere positive and encouraging, VProud is the place.

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And now for some reading material I loved this week:

My friend Devon has a way with books - meaning she reviews a ton of them and knows what she is talking about. So I'm making my way through this list of books that help make math fun, because my son is very much into math lately, and I want to encourage him.

I have a lot of respect for women who escape abusive relationships, knowing how difficult it is. When the woman has a child, it's exponentially more difficult. This essay was wrenching but incredibly hopeful.

Many, many women experience postpartum mood disorders during and after the birth of their children. This post at Mashable rounds up the emotions very well.

This family has a little boy with the rare disease Sanfilippo Syndrome. Take a look at their Facebook page to learn more about them and their valiant fight.

Allison Hendrix uses beautiful words to talk about how we can all help each other raise good, compassionate, supportive kids. I loved this post.

Another lovely post on teaching kids compassion from the inimitable Angie Kinghorn at Bonbon Break had my nodding my head - YES.

Oh, Rachel Macy Stafford. You are a light in the darkness, always. "The next time you walk into an intimidating setting—whether it’s a party, a church, a school, a classroom, a club, a fitness center, a meeting, or a social event, clasp your hands together. Say to yourself: 'I am not alone. Someone else is nervous too.' Then look around. Perhaps now you know someone else feels uncomfortable, you’ll see someone else holding his or her own hand too."

"It seems to me that when we inhabit ourselves - when we say, this is who I am in all my flawed humanity - we are taking a step toward being most real." Great words from Dani Shapiro.

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Reading: The Martian. The cover caught my eye when I was at the airport this week, and I have not been able to put it down. When I was in high school, I was fascinated by Physics, but didn't do exceptionally well at it. When in college, I signed up for Astronomy, thinking I was studying constellations and found... more physics. So although I may not be good at it, this book brought out the inner science geek I never knew was in there. This is Andy Weir's FIRST BOOK. So impressive.

Also reading: Science of Parenthood's new book! It will launch offically on November 17, and I have a copy in my hands now, courtesy of a book launch here in Austin this week. Norine and Jessica have put together a funny, relatable, easy-to-enjoy book about parenting in all of its glory, in photos, words, and graphics. #BoogieWipesTour

My WeMontage wall hanging arrived today! I can't wait to put it up in my son's room. So easy.
My friend James runs the company, and his customer service on the creations is second to none. It's a very good gift idea covered by Martha Stewart, Yahoo, and CNET, and the Today Show ran stories about it twice this year. Here's a video to learn more:

Love, Kristin
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