Volvo V60 Cross Country in Utah

I remember when I was my son Julian’s age, my friends and I spent lots of time imagining what our lives would be like when we grew up. It was a game we spent hours at. Even then, we had ideas of what we wanted. A house, a family, cars, jobs.

While my friends had no trouble choosing where they wanted to live, who to marry, and how many children to have, I always struggled. As far as my imagination could take me, I had a Newfoundland dog, the best skis money could buy, and a job that took me places. I couldn’t really commit to marriage and family, and I certainly couldn’t have a fancy sports car because I had my big, imaginary dog. And my skis! Maybe that’s where my love for station wagons was born. Because ever since then, I’ve imagined myself in a family vehicle going up the mountain in the snow.

It didn’t turn out quite like I imagined—at least, not at first. I spent my twenties traveling the world single, so I drove smaller, sporty cars dealers always pushed on me. One time I took a big family van for a test drive, and the car salesman wouldn’t stop chatting about my family, so I had to invent a husband, three kids, and a nanny. Yep. Things I did for my dream car…

So when Volvo asked me to take their new (http://www.volvocars.com/us/cars/new-models/v60-cross-country) V60 Cross Country for a spin last week I said yes before they finished their invitation. Not sure if they took my neighbor for lunch and asked her everything about me, but when they delivered the car it was

a) White – my favorite color (with a pearly shine!!)
b) Had a beautiful Volvo kid’s car seat – which Julian said was super comfy
c) Came with dog equipment in the trunk so you can secure your canine during travels
d) Has all wheel drive

Pretty much my childhood dream car except it was very handsome with curves in all the right places.

We had to do this beauty justice and take it for a proper spin. Utah’s slogan these days is “Life Elevated,” so that’s where we explored. Because remember: ALL WHEEL DRIVE!!

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As soon as I sat in the car, it asked me if it could please connect to my iPhone. The rest was history. (I love my iPhone.) Anyone who makes friends with my favorite accessory—or as Julian calls it, “mommy’s brain”—is a friend of mine. My V60 Cross Country picked up my music playlist, my phone calls, and directions. All that on a beautiful, clear screen that wasn’t distracting at all when I drove.

The interior is fancy, sleek, and comfortable. The air-conditioning, which is a must for my dogs, is fast and pleasant. Further, I felt like I could see everywhere I needed to—no dreaded blind spots us moms hate so much in bigger and higher family vehicles. If you ever had to back out of your kid-friendly suburban driveway, you know exactly what a blind spot anxiety attack feels like.

Speaking of backing up, the camera that kicks in when you reverse is amazing and so detailed. Just look at these pretty flowers that popped up on my screen when I was doing a three point turn on the dirt road.

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Volvo also told me about every movement on my side of the car, which I appreciate since I get taken over by trucks a lot. Don’t judge.

We drove up dirt roads in search of Utah’s ghost towns. The car handles well, and even on gravel and in fields it doesn’t lose its sportiness, even while it give you that warm and fuzzy feeling that you got this. I would love to take this car skiing. It seems perfectly unfazed by the challenges of the mountains.

Despite my well known affinity to drive the speed limit all the time, which my son likes to reinforce from the backseat, I couldn’t resist going to the Salt Flats. I mean, a little slice of heaven with the most perfect scenery and no speed limit? It had to be done!

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I could tell you I am pretty confident we broke the world speed record in best family car category. I could admit to some donuts and rooster tails. I might even show you photographic proof. But bragging is not my thing. Let’s just say I allowed my dogs to stick their head out the window for the first time ever in their lives and experience the wind blowing away their slobber. And they loved it.

After all this adventuring, with tons of salt and dirt on everyone’s feet and the car what impressed me the most is that the Volvo stayed so pretty. Seriously, this is after driving all day both on dirt roads, highway, and Bonneville speedway:

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The leather seats wiped off all the salt easily and we were good to go back to Salt Lake City. I started running out of gas, and Volvo found me a gas station. I had a go at parallel parking, and it was easy peasy. Every time I returned to the vehicle it picked up my Pandora station and played it. Julian had no trouble putting on his seat belt, puling down the table, organizing his books and drinks and snacks. It’s like first class on SAS back there I tell you.

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My only regret is that my husband is gone to Japan already because he would have loved this car. It’s not easy to find a vehicle that is functional and family friendly yet exciting to drive. Sporty, comfortable, spacious. A little too big to fit into my suitcase and take to Japan otherwise I would never have returned it for sure.

On our drive back Julian and I were chatting and he told me that he changed his mind ( again ) and when he grows up he wants to be an engineer. He will live in the cabin in the mountains and drive a Volvo. I guess it’s in our blood.

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The Cabin

Today is our last day at the cabin in Upstate New York.

It’s hard to believe a month has gone by so fast. This has been the most relaxing and soul filling vacation ever. We came with big plans to explore the whole of New York, from Adirondacks all the way to the coast but we ended up in this tiny spot in the mountains happy as can be perfecting the art of doing nothing.

Most days we read and walked in the woods, Julian watched old reruns of black and white Lone Ranger episodes, we ate and we laughed and spent time with family and friends. Just down the road we befriended Paulina who grows the most amazing vegetables and fruits and Julian helped her at her stand. We ate nothing but local produce and hung out with our neighbors. Julian learned to do the dishes and took up archery. Max and Bruce stalked deer and barked at owls, slept under thousands of starts and swam under waterfalls. This truly has been a month to remember.

Some have asked me if this is our summer home and I wish it was. It belongs to a wonderful couple who lovingly call it their cabin in the woods. Luckily for you it is available for rent and you can find it HERE.

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Sleep Better Chat

They say that if you really want to get your questions answered ask your child just before bedtime. Nothing is more inviting to them then a way to stall going to sleep. They will even answer beyond ‘fine’ the good old favorite ‘how was school’ question!

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I often find myself talking with other mothers and while comparing parenting challenges I rarely have one to add. Not that my son doesn’t give me his share of reasons to turn gray prematurely but most of the time he is very obedient. Among other things he has always had a very structured and happy bedtime routine. In fact he informed me in kindergarten that he was the only child in his class that had a 7 PM bedtime. Of course he never quite begun his slumber that early but once in bed Julian stays there entertaining himself until he falls asleep.

Until this summer…

As days got longer in spring tucking him in while the sun was still up became harder and harder. He never complained but I would often hear him shuffling under the covers as late as ten o’clock. We agreed he can read until he gets sleepy but he would finish not chapters but entire book pushing his bedtime past nine on school nights.

I worried. But since only a few weeks of school were left I let it go. At the end of the day how can I tell my child off for reading J.R.R. Tolkien on his own at the age of seven? Couldn’t help but feel proud.

However summer vacation did nothing to help the cause. As I got busy getting the house ready to rent and packing our belongings for the move Julian’s bedtime routine kept getting more and more relaxed. Until one day, after driving across the States and crossing three time zones we finally reached the point of no return. My son’s bedtime these days is midnight!

I justify it in my head that realistically that means 9PM pacific time. I convince myself that he still gets at least 10 hours of sleep a day or more since he rolls out of bed in time for lunch. I tell myself it’s OK because that’s what summer is all about, indulging.

But let’s be honest. That’s just nuts. I have become a mother of a seven year old teenager.

So I am here to tell you THE STALL is real! It can happen to anyone and I want us to unite, share the experiences, find ways to tackle and defeat it and bring back the bedtime routine our children will thrive on again. Let’s claim back our evenings!

I am excited to tell you I have teamed with Sleep Number to host a Sleep Better Chat on Instagram tomorrow evening at 8PM CST. Join me to share and talk about what works best for us in ensuring our children get a restful, goodnight’s sleep every day. There will be prizes drawn daily with the grand prize Twin Sleep Number® SleepIQ® Kids k2 mattress set given to one of you participating in the chats at the end of the week! Please register HERE to enter the draw and join me on Instagram tomorrow evening.

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