Another Trip Around the Sun

In just a few days I will be another year older, hopefully a bit wiser and stronger.  This past year I really tried to regain some focus on myself and my mental health.  I had signed up to complete a half marathon a year in advance and when January came around I knew I had to start training.  So, let’s recap what 31 has looked like to me.

November and December are always a whirl wind of birthdays and holidays in our house.  That means lots of time spent with family and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  I am truly blessed with such an amazing family and I tell people all the time.  I don’t take for granted what my family has done for me in the least.

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Where it all started!

January and February, I finally started walking/jogging/and pretending to run again.  I hadn’t done anything since I was 4 months pregnant with Ben and at this point he was 15 months.  I spent 4 days a week in the basement on the treadmill binge watching Netflix.

March rolled around and I noticed a Facebook post inviting people to a training run for the Canton Marathon.  I wasn’t training for a marathon, but this would give me the opportunity to run with other people so I was so lonely.  This is when I met two people who were talking about a local running group called Run Happy.  I finished my lonely miles and found the group on Facebook later that day.  From that point on I joined a morning run group twice a week where I met more awesome people.

April was the start of the half marathons.  The race I had signed up for a year ago was finally just around the corner.  You can read more about that here.  I  was training with my running buddy and decided since I was already trained, I would run another half marathon two weeks later.  At the race expo I was talked into a third half just weeks after the second.  I was starting to binge sign up for races so to speak.  By the end of May I reached LifeTime status with Weight Watchers as well.  So, I was finally back to a healthy weight.

June, July and August are too hot for me to race.  I kept training with my running buddy as she prepared for a marathon.  I knew that it would help me with my half in September anyway so I wasn’t concerned.  I started watching YouTube videos and listening to podcasts about Ultra Running.  I was getting hooked and picked out a 50 miler to sign up for in a year.  *I mentally like to give myself plenty of time to panic and analyze my decisions in running.

September rolled around and I ran my 4th half marathon for the year and relayed a marathon with a bunch of Harry Potter fans I had never met.  By the end of September I had talked myself into running the full marathon with my running buddies.  There were a large number of members going to run this race and I remember the fun I had with the half marathon (not so many fond memories of the full).  So, in October, I toed the line and finished my second full marathon.

Just a few days later, myself and other Run Happy members raced to the ultra sign up webpage to register for a 50k.  This will be my first Ultra.  I’m still waiting for registration to open for the 50 miler, but when it does I will be registered day 1!

This year has been incredible.  I found joy in running again.  I was no longer training alone.  I was no longer stressing about running races by myself because I was almost sure I would know someone there at the starting line.  My family is happy and healthy and I get to share another year with all of them.  I am grateful for everyone in my life and the opportunities that I am given.  So, thank you to everyone who has shared a small part of this year with me and I look forward to what is to come.

Just to make sure I kick off my 32nd year right, I will be running my first trail half marathon with my running buddies on my birthday!  The Bobcat Trail half marathon is sure to be a muddy mess after all of the rain we’ve been experiencing.

As always, be confident, be fit, be you!

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COSI Birthday Celebrations

This past week Little B turned 2.  Where did the time go?  I swear he was just coming home from the hospital, learning to crawl, and jumping in the bouncer.  Now he is running and climbing all over the place.  He has definitely started to come into that two year old stage.  Luckily, we had H first and she was super rough at this stage, so we are prepared for B.

To celebrate his birthday, I was able to take the day off of work and take the kiddos to a museum two hours from home.  COSI was somewhere I remembered my mom taking me as a child and we always had a good time.  When I went a few years ago with my coworkers, I wasn’t as impressed.  So, I was a little nervous with how my children were going to like the experience.  I choose this museum because they have a hot wheels exhibit right now and B loves anything transports.

After the long drive, we were ready to stretch our legs and enjoy the exhibits.  First up was Hot Wheels.  There were cars and tracks everywhere! B wasn’t sure where to start and was really good about sharing the cars.  He practiced changing tires and H was able to drive the simulated race car.

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The Ocean exhibit had lots of water play experiences and a submarine that kids could go in and explore.  I would have brought extra cloths had I known about all the water play areas throughout the museum.  But, my kids were fine and didn’t get too wet.

We enjoyed a quick lunch and then went to the younger child area where there are locked gates and multiple attendants.  They check you in with the number of adults and the number of children that will be entering the space.  Once inside, the kids split and both went off to do their own thing.  Ben went straight to the fire truck, ambulance, helicopter, and train tracks.  Remember he loves transportation! Hailey went off to the farm, market stand and grocery store.  There was so much to do in just this little area that we could have spent 4 hours in there and my children would never be bored.  We explored the light/dark area together.

Finally, we enjoyed a PBS room that had a green screen.  B was too tired at this point to really enjoy it, but H and I had a great time!  We added different backgrounds with overlays and really just hit any and all buttons that we could.  At one point it was snowing in the ocean with Curious George balloons floating.  It was a hidden gem that no one else was in at the time we were there.

Alas, we had to head back home before it got to be too late.  Driving out of Columbus during peak times is not something I enjoy.  B had a great day and it is definitely a place that we will go back to in the future.

The 4am wake up

This is my why.  This is my blog post about why I get out of bed at 4:05am to workout.  This post is dedicated to explaining the purpose behind my crazy schedule and how I attempt to fit as much into my day as possible, even on the weekends.

Before I had my first child, I would get up before work around 6am and get a run or workout in before I needed to leave.  If I was feeling a bit sluggish when the alarm went off, I would just re-set it for a later time and fit my workout in after work.  Then came my first child.  After I returned to work, I had to fit my workout in before I left for the day.  I, also, needed to consider my husbands schedule to make sure I was home before he needed to leave.  This meant that I needed to get up at 5am.  That isn’t a horrible hour of the morning, I could do that a few days a week.

Then baby number 2 came along.  I completely lost my desire to workout simply because I was too tired to do just about anything outside of my normal routine.  Wake up, get kids ready, take them to grandparents by 7:30am, go to work, pick up kids, make dinner, put kids to bed by 7:30pm, clean up dinner or other household tasks.  I wanted my children to have consistency and schedules.  Children function much better when they know how the daily routine is going to progress.  This left little time for me to get a workout in before 8pm or I would have to start getting up at 4am.

I tried the 8pm workouts.  I found more ways to cancel on myself than one could believe. “I ate a donut for breakfast, the day is already shot, you can skip the run tonight.  Oh, the diaper laundry needs done, forget a workout tonight.”  If there was a way to cancel on myself, I did. This left me unmotivated and feeling very discouraged.

One thing I have learned, and my husband has learned, is that if I don’t workout consistently, I will live in a depressed state.  I want to sleep a lot more than my body really needs.  I will seclude myself from the people around me.  I cut off communication with my husband.  Therefore, I need to workout.  I need to run.  I need to commit to myself so that I can commit to others on a meaningful level.  Lucky for me, my husband completely understands that I need to do this as well.

So, I now get up at 4:05am to meet with a group of crazy runners at 5am three days a week.  On the days that I don’t run with the group, I still get up at 4:20am to head down to the home gym my husband so graciously remodeled recently.  I am able to get a positive physical and mental health start every single day.  I am able to still do the same daily routine mentioned above to maintain consistency for my family.  My children still go to bed by 7:30pm, but now I am able to be a better presence in their play when we are home.  I am a better me because of my 4am wake up.

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Newly remodeled home gym. That treadmill has seen enough use that we’ve replaced the belt!

Until next time, be confident, be fit, be you!

First Race

This past weekend was filled with fun adventures for our family of four.  We enjoyed the Pittsburgh children’s museum again, a favorite of ours!  We spent lots of time with family for a birthday picnic! Enjoyed the outdoors at the county fair where our 4-year-old completed her first race!  Racing was something I wanted her to enjoy when she was ready but not push it too early.  Our kids have been playing “Race” with my medals and my mom’s medals for about a year now.  I’ve wanted her to participate in a kids fun run for a while, but didn’t want it to be a hundred yard dash.  I knew she could do more than that because we walk all the time.  After searching for a race for the little one, I came across a nice 1 mile run at the local county fair.

The Stampede race had a “Country Mile” option as they called it before a 5k.  Individuals could register for the mile, 5k or both. The mile was starting an hour before the 5k, so there was no concern for finishing in time before the next race started.  The race fee would get her a medal of her own and entry into the fair.  She would be excited!  I signed us both up for the Country Mile.  The race time was not ideal with a 9am start and the 5k starting at 10, so I opted to only complete the 1 mile.  It was a double loop around the dirt track.

The day of the race was upon us and I was pinning her race bib to her shirt.  She was getting excited and her brother was less patient.  We did a couple of practice laps around some of the vendors at the fair just to get us warmed up.  The little one did some stretching with Mimi and we went to the track to wait for the start.  It was an inaugural race with a ton of race options in the area, so the pool of racers was very limited.  Daughter H was the youngest in the group to complete the 1 mile.

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We set off around the track and about a quarter of a mile in, she was getting HOT.  It was a scorcher, so I don’t blame her.  But, we enticed her to keep going because the back portion of the track was shadded.  She made it around the track and as we circled the hay bail to head back the other direction, she was starting to negotiate for some sweet treats.  She wanted shaved ice, ice cream, cold water poured on her head, anything to keep her cool.

As we were coming around the end and she was getting ready to cross the finish line she took my hand and we went across together!  They hung her medal around her neck and cheered for her since it was her first race!  I poured some cool water on her head and apparently she didn’t really want that after all.  A few tears later and being allowed to dump water on my head made up for that parenting mistake.  She was proud of herself for finishing but wanted something to help cool her down.  Unfortunately the fair vendors were still not open.

Little H’s medal is now proudly displayed in her room for her to see it daily.  She has requested to get more medals to hang on her wall! I may need to make her own display rack for her to hang her accomplishments up as she earns them!  I want to encourage her to be active without burning her out or pushing her further than her body is capable at this point.  She is young and I want her to enjoy exercising and being outdoors.

Norwex Review

norwex clothsA few weeks ago I did a review on JuJuBe, which since then I have added even more to my stash, and wanted to  continue that idea with another product review.  With the holidays around the corner with gift giving at an all time high, I’m hoping these reviews may sway a few people.  I understand cleaning products are generally frowned upon for gifts, but some people would really love and appreciate these items.  So, let’s get down and dirty with some of the Norwex products I have used and instantly fell in love.

norwex cloth 2The enviro cloth.  I have used a large amount of microfiber cloths over the years and they all fall apart or get this weird gritty feeling.  I’ve even used the e-cloth brand which is similar to Norwex but slightly lower quality.  The Norwex cloths feel amazing and everything gets trapped in the microfiber.  It takes no time at all and only water to clean my very messy 1 year old and the table surrounding him after spaghetti dinner.  I just rinse the cloth clean and use again with the next mess.  I can do that with the Norwex cloths because it contains silver which kills germs so I’m not spreading bacteria.  I’ve removed all of the other cloths from my cleaning supplies and only use Norwex enviro cloths for my house.  They come in a variety of colors so I’ve labeled specific colors for their intended use.  Although they have the bacteria killing ability, I am still not using a cloth on my toilet one day and then on my kitchen counter the next.  Labeling allows me to keep them very organized.

Next, I purchased the mop pads.  I completely understand the hesitation for not mop norwexpurchasing the mop system.  It is a steep price tag.  But, I already had the BONA mopping system and the cloths fit fairly well on that handle.  I can now quickly sweep my floors with one cloth and just brush the dirt into the trash.  For larger piles of dirt from dog hair, I use my Dyson to vacuum up before mopping.  The mopping pad uses just a little water and the same handle.  I love being able to clean my house with just water and know that I am collecting the germs that are lying around in the cloth.

Finally, I use the mattress cleaner.  I purchased this due to my daughters allergies.  It was recommended we get rid of the carpet and stuffed animals to cut down on the dust that collects.  However, the cost to remove carpet and replace with good quality flooring is a bit much at this time.  We will do this in the near future.  Plus, asking a 3 year old to give away her mountain of stuffed animals is a little tear-jerking.  So, I bought this spray.  I am able to spray all of her stuffed animals once a month as well as the mattress in her room and the little chair in the play area.  It deep cleans the items, leaving them free of body oils, dander and other contaminants.

Now, those are the products that I am currently using as well as hand towels in a few of my bathrooms.   My wishlist, on the other hand, is actually quite long for Norwex products.  The products save time and money, not to mention the amazing benefits for my family.  They have child sized products to allow the little ones in your life to assist in the cleaning.  I actually find myself cleaning more frequently because of the ease with the products.  I should also mention that I am not a seller for Norwex nor am I going to link any one seller to this post.  The reason, I want you to have your own gathering.  Invite one of the sellers in your area over to show you how amazing the products are in real life.  If you are going to invest in these cleaning products, you want to be able to touch them and use them in areas of your home prior to buying.  As for gifts for the cleaning and organizing person in your life, maybe a gift certificate in a stocking or one of the cleaning cloths just to get them introduced to one of the best products on the market.

Advent Activities for Children

The holiday season is upon us all and I’m sure we’re all feeling the hustle and bustle of getting things ready for the family.  Getting holiday gifts for loved ones, decorating the house and spending lots of time with family can be overwhelming.  Last year I spent some time developing an individualized advent calendar for my children.  I will link that here (Last years advent activities). The family advent activities were small things that we could do together as a family and get some special time with our children to slow down the hectic moments.  This year, I am pulling some of the same activities for my family and adding in a few new ones.

 

Dec 1: Decorate the family Christmas Tree

Dec 2: New Book: Look and Be Grateful by Tomie DePaola.  We are trying to teach our 3 year old how to be appreciative.

Dec 3: Read the story of the Birth of Jesus

Dec 4: Make and a paper chain to decorate the tree

Dec 5: Mess-Free Glitter Christmas Tree and Gingerbread house by Melissa and Doug

Dec 6: Hang the felt Christmas tree and ornaments

Dec 7: New Book: Kindness to share from A to Z

Dec 8: Have a dance party with Christmas Music

Dec 9: Local zoo light event

Dec 10: Make homemade cinnamon rolls for breakfast

Dec 11: Winter Snow Dough- this was a huge hit last year so I have to repeat it!

Dec 12: Make Hot Chocolate

Dec 13: Decorate Christmas cards for the police and fire men and women

Dec 14: Donate 2 toys each to another child or organization

Dec 15: New Book: Llama Llama Holiday Drama

Dec 16: Bake Christmas cookies for friends

Dec 17: Go ice skating- I received skates last year and never got to use them. So, what better excuse than to take our 3 year old for the first time!

Dec 18: Paint with cookie cutters

Dec 19: New Book: Pete the Cat Save Christmas

Dec 20: Have holiday Sprinkles on our Waffles for dinner (Waffle Wednesday is a tradition at our house instead of Taco Tuesday)

Dec 21: Bake and cake for Jesus’ Birthday

Dec 22: Drive around and look at the lights

Dec 23: Watch a Christmas movie

Dec 24: Attend Christmas Eve Mass

Dec 25: Celebrate Christmas with our family!

I’m excited to bring out the Advent calendar again this year.  Our three year old is just starting to understand the holiday and I’m looking forward to showing her how to help others out during this season.  It is important to show children how they can be Christ like throughout the whole year, but especially during the celebration of the birth of Christ.

Do you do anything special with your family during this time of year?  What are some of your favorite traditions?  I hope this holiday season is filled with lots of special blessings for all of you!

JuJuBe Review

 

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Monarch Be Classy- This and my Nantucket Be Classy are used for work bags. They hold file folders and my laptop perfectly!

Todays post is all about an obsession of mine.  I even received a new one for my birthday this past week!  It started when I was seriously over my cheap diaper bag with my first child.  It barely lasted a year before it was falling apart and nothing was easy to find.  It was like digging through a bottomless bag and took way to long to get what you needed.  It was at my fed up point that I started asking for opinions on new diaper bags.  I heard good thing about a few brands and decided to watch some YouTube videos to get some reviews and really see what the bag can hold.  It was at that moment I fell in love with JuJuBe.  These bags were magical, or so the person made them seem.  They could hold a million and one items and everything would be super easy to locate.  They are machine washable, teflon treated, Agion® treatment, has a mommy pocket and memory foam change pad.  Then there came a sticker shock.  They weren’t cheap.

It took a lot of YouTube videos, talking with others, visiting a local BuyBuyBaby and joining the Pink Lady Chat Facebook group to push me over the edge and buy my first bag.  It was seriously love after that purchase.  There are so many bags and they can be used for more than just diaper bags.  So, when I look at the bag, I don’t see it being used for just a few years while my children are in diapers.  I use them for work bags, I used one for a pump bag (which spoiler alert JuJuBe now makes pump bags), I use them for organizing my bags, I use them for purses when I just need something quick, I have a BeSpendy (wallet), wet bag and fuel cell (small cooler bag).  Honestly, I have a good bit.  But, I almost always want more.  These bags are amazing and can seriously hold a large amount of items.  They were completely worth the price I paid and the awesome thing is they will hold the value.  Some of the more iconic or hard to find prints even sell 3x the original price used.  I personally don’t own those prints because they are insanely hard to come by and most of them are not for my taste.  I don’t have time to flip them and don’t feel it right when someone else truly loves the print.

5 Reasons I love these bags:

  • I can pack them for two kids- one in diapers and one that is struggling with potty training and the bag still feels pretty light with room to spare.
  • I can use the bag as luggage when taking a weekend trip or quick trip for work and it still looks fashionable.
  • I am able to organize the bag the same way every single day which makes it easier for anyone watching the little ones.
  • They are insanely durable.
  • There is a bag for everyone.
  • Not featured in these images: Classy in Nantucket, BRB in Admiral, Medium set piece in Rad Hearts, Small and medium set piece in Royal Envy, Royal Envy Fuel Cell, Be Organized set in Duchess, and Be Spendy in First Lady.  I told you I have quite the obsession.

Honestly, I would seriously recommend these bags to anyone looking for high quality.  They aren’t just for moms with children in diapers.  They have bags for every single person out there.  They even carry Super Toki prints and a recent collaboration with World of WarCraft.  I may even have convinced a few others to start their own obsession with JuJuBe bags *wink*.