3 Fun Geography Quizzes

Clearly this week has established that I am a total geo-geek. Along with baby gear, diaper bags, parenting, bourbon, beaches, and bonfires, I love maps. Today I wanted to share a few fun geography quizzes. Enjoy!

I was born and raised in Illinois and Iowa, and have had a midwestern/Great Lakes accent that has been slowly neutralizing over the past 10 years of living along the east coast. Certain words though, like kitty-corner and gym shoes, have yet to disappear from my vocabulary to be replace with local equivalents. Dialects within the United States has always fascinated me, so I thought it would be fun to share one quiz to see how your results match up against your current place of residence versus your hometown.

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From the New York Times: How Y’all, Youse, and You Guys Talk

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From National Geographic: Today’s GeoBee Quiz

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And, since I said “3 Quizzes,” here’s a list of a lot more listed as one fun link.

12 Items of Home Decor featuring Maps

It’s Day 4 of my Geography Awareness Week celebration, and today I’m featuring 12 items to map-up your home decor scene. Other posts this week include great geography toys, a list of books for little map lovers, GIS Day resources, and Maps, Apps, and Crafts at Jacksonville Moms Blog. Enjoy!


|1| Crocodile Creek World Placemat |2| Silikids USA Placemat |3| Moomin Valley Soup Cup |4| NYC Subway Map Paper Cups |5| Wild and Wolf Map Flask |6| Wild and Wolf Map Thermos |7| Cat Studio Tea Towel |8| Weegoamigo Map Muslin Swaddle |9| Colorful World Map Pillowcase |10| City Dinner Plates |11| Out to Sea Crib Sheets |12| Linen Map Pillowcase


***some affiliate links included***

Happy GIS Day!

It is finally that one special day in November for which everyone is thankful, and warm sentiments can be found in people all over the world — GIS Day. Today is the middle of the week of my Geography Awareness Week celebration, can you believe it’s half over already (tear)? Other posts this week include great geography toys, a list of books for little map lovers, and Maps, Apps, and Crafts at Jacksonville Moms Blog. Enjoy!

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Image from Mapbook 23

What on Earth is GIS Day?

Per the website of Environmental Systems Research Institute (Esri), the dominant powerhouse of GIS software, GIS is:

GIS Day provides an international forum for users of geographic information systems (GIS) technology to demonstrate real-world applications that are making a difference in our society. The first formal GIS Day took place in 1999. Esri president and co-founder Jack Dangermond credits Ralph Nader with being the person who inspired the creation of GIS Day. He considered GIS Day a good initiative for people to learn about geography and the uses of GIS. He wanted GIS Day to be a grassroots effort and open to everyone to participate.

In simple terms, GIS is a map-making software program that allows complete and total customization for specific mapping needs. The importance of mapping to solve problems is traced back to London in the 1800’s. Scores of people were being struck ill with cholera and, once the locations of the sick individuals were placed on a map, the problem was traced to a local well. Problem solved! Now, on to mapping Ebola

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Image from Mapbook 23

What do you do with a Geography/GIS Degree? Aren’t all the maps already made?

I’ve heard both questions countless times. If you’re looking for a career in geography and/or GIS, check out these resources. As for all of the maps — GIS is used to solve many problems and it will be a tool that is around for generations to come. One example is the UPS Right Turn Method (pretty amazing). By mapping routes and traffic, logistics mappers discovered that UPS could save time and money by making only right-hand turns whenever possible. GIS is also used in FEMA flood zone mapping, marine surveying and mapping, police crime mapping, ATF/DEA drug and weapons tracking, local city planning, fast-food restaurants for site situation analysis (locations near churches, schools, etc.), and thousands more. If you can give me a need, I can pretty much find a way to map it for you. When we were deciding to move from the DC area, I made a map that showed the U.S., and did a city selection narrowed down by which attributes that were important to us. I selected zones within a specific number of miles near family, miles to the beach, our favorite stores/restaurants, and proximity to our outdoor activities.

I worked for 12 years in a career as a GIS Technician/Analyst/Manager/Aeronautical Information Specialist, all utilizing GIS technologies for different private companies and government organizations. One of the most interesting positions, in my opinion, was when I worked as a contractor for FEMA during the 2004-2006 hurricane seasons, which included Hurricane Katrina. It was quite intense, to say the least, being tasked with a map request while watching a news anchor live on CNN discussing that they were waiting for the results of that map before acting on movements. My closest moment of fame was being called by the White House, on my cell phone, to request a large plotted map. Once we created the map, we went to the only super secret location in the D.C. area capable of the print requirements (coughKINKOScough in Georgetown), where afterward they would meet me on the street to pick it up while President Bush waited in Air Force One idling to leave for New Orleans. I was excited to make “the drop,” and was nervous as the huge, black, tinted-windowed SUV pulled up in front of me, yet the person who got out was some preppy young college kid, but now at least it makes for a good story. I think I am still recovering from working three months of 12-14 hour night shifts during that hurricane period.

Local Events and GIS Resources

Through the City of Jacksonville, JaxGIS

Northeast Florida GIS (NEFGIS). NEFGIS is a group open to the public for anyone with an interest in GIS. Check them out and sign up for their mailing list if you are interested.

Now, the only thing left to do today is to get that #GISDaySelfie in! (coughNERDcough)

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***All nerdiness in this post is fully represented and embraced by myself, except for that selfie thing above. Now THAT is nerdy. I sure do love maps though.***

8 Books for Little Map Lovers

I’m continuing my Geography Awareness Week celebration by highlighting 8 fun books for your little map lover. If you missed yesterday’s post on geography toys, check it out, along with my post on Maps, Apps, and Crafts at Jacksonville Moms Blog. Enjoy!


|1| National Geographic Kids Ultimate U.S. Road Trip Atlas

|2| Around the World with Mouk (we LOVE this one)

|3| There’s a Map on My Lap |4| Smithsonian Geography Visual Encyclopedia


|5| The Geography Book: Activities for Exploring, Mapping, and Enjoying Your World

|6| Maps (this is a beautiful book for children, and I would love it, too!)

|7| Maps Activity Book |8| U.S. States and Capitals Flash Cards (fun stocking stuffer)


***some affiliate links included***

11 Great Geography Toys

Happy Geography Awareness Week to all of you fellow map-lovers out there. I wrote about several fun maps, apps, and crafts over at Jacksonville Moms Blog today, so make sure to check that out for ideas to help your children celebrate. Since this week is all about geography, I thought it was only fair that I share some of my favorite map toys for your babies, toddlers, and older children to enjoy this week or as great gifts for the holidays. Enjoy!


|1| Barefoot Books Map of the World Play Scene |2| Geosafari Talking Globe |3| eeBoo USA Map Tray Puzzle |4| Geotoys World Blocks

|5| Uncle Goose State Blocks |6| Fox Mind Map It! USA Edition |7| Crocodile Creek Play Ball |8| IKEA Map Activity Rug

|9| Little Tikes iTike Map |10| Petit Collage Fabric Wall Map Decal |11| Corby Tindersticks Interactive Playsets


For more amazing map crafts, ideas, and toys, check out my Geography Awareness Week Crafts and Map Whimsy boards on Pinterest, and browse the gorgeous map toys and more highlighted on BuyModernBaby.

***some affiliate links included***

Random Bursts of Grief: Traveling

As I made plans last week to leave the house for a weekend trip to see my family, I realized that I was going to be leaving Rose’s urn home alone overnight for the first time, and it shocked me in how upsetting that felt. That feeling had come out of nowhere but then quickly took over my entire body. After her birth and death, I spent two weeks feeling detached, helpless, and yearning for her ashes to come home to us from the funeral home. It was an awful experience. We chose a cremation for the simple fact that we have moved so much within the last few years, and we couldn’t bear the thought of having a funeral and burial only to feel like we either “couldn’t” leave Jacksonville, or feel that we would be leaving her behind.

These feelings of leaving her urn home alone were so spontaneous and sad, that at one point I had the serious thought of “perhaps I could just put it in my bag and no one would have to know besides me.” This was quickly followed by, “perhaps my in-laws or friend would be willing to “watch her” for the weekend.” Both of these thoughts made me laugh out loud, once voiced to a friend, because then I could envision some delusional scenario where I would take the urn with me for family events, group photos, and travels. My friend joked that it would be like Flat Stanley — we would just have pictures of her urn taken from various locations during our travels over the rest of our lives. Hilarious and sad and morbid all at the same time.

Just putting a voice to that surprise emotional outburst, and then joking about it after the fact, helped me to realize that it is all probably quite normal. But that is something I never would have thought would have been a “normal thing” to be upset about in the first place — leaving an urn. Now I can see why people choose to have lockets with their loved ones ashes worn as a necklace or an item they could carry around. It’s not my thing, but now I could understand why someone would do that. My friend even pointed out that there are women out there with life-like baby dolls that they carry around with them. Again — I get it. Though I don’t — but I do. It is not my place to judge how people grieve and heal. But that certainly makes my Flat Stanley-urn delusion much more appealing (to my love of humor) if faced with a choice between that, carrying around a doll, or wearing my loved ones’ ashes. Though I do love using a stroller as my personal Sherpa, and the doll could go in there…Hmm…..(I’m JOKING, Mom, no need to worry about me more than usual.) It’s okay to laugh about this (in my opinion), because you can’t cry all damn day every day. For me, finding humor even in my darkest place, gives me hope that I am doing what I need to heal.

The weekend turned out to be great. I was in such a packing frenzy before leaving that I didn’t even think about “saying good-bye to the urn” until I was already on the road. Then I felt guilty about not thinking of it after all of those feelings earlier in the week, but that guilt didn’t last long at all. We had a wonderful time with my sister, mom, and close friend, and it was healing to create new and fun memories with them. It was a nice first weekend traveling after this hard summer and fall.

I am not sure why I am sharing this story with you all, other than to maybe make someone else feel like they’re not alone if they are sitting around Googling, “leaving an urn home alone,” or, “traveling with an urn.” It’s all so morbid, this grief thing. But perhaps I need to register a domain name for Flat Stanley-esque Remembrance Travel Items so you can finally take Great-Great-Grandma on that trip to the Grand Canyon she had always wanted.

Grief is Love

The next post will be featuring a list of books, websites, and other resources that have been helpful to me in the past two months.

Happy Election Day! Let’s Look at Puppies!

I hope you were all able to get out and vote today. If you’re waiting for results to come in and feeling excited, nervous, anxious, or disappointed, than check out this sweet pup from CuteOverload. It’s a great website that is perfect for putting a smile on your face, and I certainly needed a scroll through there after being at home with a feverish toddler for two days now. You can never go wrong with happy animal photos and videos.

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Browse and Enjoy!

Motivating Monday: November 3, 2014

Here we are in November already — how did that happen so quickly? Here are some things that are going on during the month of November that should keep you motivated for daily posts, planks, thanks, novels, and near-nose hair. Enjoy!

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National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)

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National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo) through BlogHer

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Join Jacksonville Moms Blog on Instagram (@jaxmomsblog) to Give Thanks for November with #JMBphotoaday

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Esther at BuyModernBaby put together this clever list of mustachioed items to support Movember, which raises awareness for men’s health.

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Last year, I attempted the Planksgiving Challenge and seriously had great results. I’ll be doing it again this year. Join me!

Well, that should leave us pretty much good-to-go for this month, right? By December, we will be so fit, fabulous, well-written, and mustached-out.

5 Basic Pampering Products for Moms (and 2 for toddlers!)

One thing (among many) that I have realized since my pregnancy loss is that I was not taking care of myself as much as I should have been, both physically and emotionally. I had a rough, draining first two years dealing with our life in the DC suburbs and then moving to Florida while still recovering from postpartum depression, and I am determined not to go down that dark path again. Taking an hour for myself daily isn’t always feasible, but now I make at least 20 minutes a priority now, even if it’s just a longer shower with relaxing-scented soap. These are a few of the ways in which I’m helping to slowly pamper myself, and teach my son the joys of little luxuries as well.


California Baby Bubble Bath. We rotate the fragrances between Party, Light & Happy, Overtired & Cranky, and I Love You, but I find myself purchasing the Calming most frequently. My toddler loves the included bubble wand to add fun to his bubble-rich baths, and I love the smell so much that I use it after soap for those quick showers after a tough day before I climb into bed.


Diptyque Candles. Otherwise known as “Dammit, Diptyque — why are you so amazing but expensive?!” I first found out about this brand while browsing online for a Tuberose candle to replace a different brand that I held on to from years ago because the wax scraps smelled so calming. Amazon kept returning Diptyque Tuberose results, and while walking through the new Nordstrom in Jacksonville the other week I saw their display and took it as a sign that this was what I needed in my life. A $60 candle, yes. And, to be honest, it has been worth every penny to me. The fragrance is strong but subtle, and I move it next to my bed at night so that even while unlit I can catch a slight hint of it’s soothing scent in the air. Three months ago I would have thought that it was ridiculous, but I am now a firm believe in the power of scents to help relax your mood and your mind. Even the names are romantic and serene:  Baies, Feu de Bois (smells like campfire), Figuier, Mimosa, Noisetier (my recent favorite purchase), Pine Bark, Orange Chai, and Indian Incense. Doesn’t that all just sound lovely? So — there’s also your justification for buying a $60 candle. I know, I know, you don’t need a $60 candle. Any fragrance you connect to would be just as good. I have heard good things about essential oils and home oil fragrances — perhaps I should check those out as well. Just find whatever works for you!


Teas. Drink it all in. Some of my past and present favorites include Christmas Morning, The Tao of Tea’s Rose Hips and Jade Matcha, Zhena’s Gypsy Fireside Chai and Sense of Peace, and Numi’s Rooibos.


Movement. After a few weeks of bedrest and a couple of months of not being able to do much more than that beforehand, it feels GOOD to start moving my body again. Walking and yoga have been excellent for my mind and body. Also, this Gaiam Restore Stick is pretty much amazing. It’s not relaxing at all, because you have to work hard to massage your muscles deeply, but it’s worth it for feeling relaxed afterward. Here’s another tip for toddler “pampering” — have them watch Cosmic Kids Yoga. My son loves the Turtle Adventure where he can pretend to swim, find turtles, and other adventures while striking yoga poses. This would be a fun yoga mat for kids. It’s a win/win; he thinks he’s just watching tv, but we’re really putting our muscles to work. The woman in this series goes a little fast for toddlers, but it’s still worth checking out. Also, it’s adorable to watch your little one find their inner peace.

Lastly, Books. All. The. Books. And magazines. I love the smell of new books, the feeling of the pages on a new magazine, and holding on to them for as long as possible. My son is an avid reader (picture-looker-atter) and it’s always exciting to take him to the bookstore or library to find new material that interests us. Just sitting down for 20 minutes with the new Vanity Fair can make the day seem better. Combine that with a cup of tea and I would dare to call that some luxurious pampering right there.



***some affiliate links included***