Tuesday, April 30, 2013

He Is Good.

Lately, I've been reminded in so many ways how God takes care of not only the big things, but the little things as well. I've had so many reminders of how God hears and answers my prayers - the big ones and the little ones.

God has provided for us big, once again.

You may remember that I shared in January that my husband lost his job. For the past few months, he's been searching and he recently accepted an offer with a new company. We are just so thankful for God's goodness and provision for our family. And I'm so thankful that my husband will be doing something he'll enjoy.

I'm not ordinarily a person who stresses, but the past few months, I've found myself feeling stressed. I don't like uncertainty and I don't like the unknown (but really, who does?). I like to plan and I like for things to go according to my plan. Fortunately, that isn't always the case.

I've grown a lot lately. I've depended on God in a different way that I ever have before. I've trusted in His timing and His direction and He's shown me, yet again, how faithful He is.

I don't think it matters how prepared you are, losing a job is a big deal. Thankfully, we were in a good position where we didn't have to worry about things during this period, but it's still a big deal. I worried about my husband's confidence and morale. I worried about him finding another job similar to what he had where we live. I even worried about him being overqualified for many of the jobs that were available. I worried about so many things. Even through my worry, I knew He would provide. Afterall, that's what He's always done.

But now, looking back, I can see how awesome His timing is. These past few months "off" have given Kevin the opportunity to pick Kaden up from school everyday and spend time with him at lunch. They've given him extra afternoon time with the boys that we don't ordinarily have when we work. They gave him the flexibility that was so great to have as his mom went through two surgeries. They've given him a chance to do some things at home that he hasn't had time to do. They've also given him the opportunity to have dinner ready when I get home! (I know, I'm really just being funny, but it's been great to have dinner cooked or out ready to cook many times when I get home. I won't even talk about all the laundry washed, folded and put away. I am a lucky woman!)

Today, I'm so thankful for God's provision of a new job.


Monday, April 29, 2013

A Monday Brain Dump.

  • We had a great weekend! It consisted of baseball practice, bike riding at a trail in our town, a wedding, church and more family fun time.
  • I should not go to the grocery store without a list. But I must say that the granola I bought is delicious!
  • I think the best way to get the most from people is to build them up. Positive reinforcement is best.
  • I had decided against running a race this weekend due to my leg tightness, but then our run club guy asked me to run and is paying for it, so this girl is running.
  • My husband looked really handsome at the wedding we went to Saturday. Unfortunately, I always forget to snap a photo of us.
  • Speaking of photos, I have to finish Kaden's three year book by May 2nd. Blurb.com is running a special through then that I want to take advantage of.
  • I'm looking forward to vacation in a few weeks.
  • I'm having a great giveaway on the blog tomorrow from Bellevue Newport! 
  • And since no post is complete without a photo, here's a picture of my little guys with me at the trail Saturday. 

Friday, April 26, 2013

A Recap of My Week, Fitness Wise

It's Friday which means it's time for my weekly fitness recap with Jen!

I had a 5K race last Saturday. You can read my recap of that race here.  It was a great race and I was happy with a PR of 20:38!

I've been taking it easy since Tuesday. I've run a lot lately, and fast, and I have been having some pain/discomfort in my left hip/lower back. I think it's really from the machine I use on my glutes at the gym (I use 110 pounds), so I've only done that once this week and I've slowed down on my runs. In fact, I decided to bike this morning as opposed to running much. I have two big races coming up in the next few weeks and I want to save my legs for them.

Even though I've run less than normal this week, I did manage to squeeze in a 10K one day and I've run at least half a mile each day.

0.5 miles/3:49
Upper Body, Abs, Glutes

3.1 miles/20:38 (6:39 pace) Race

1 mile/7:20

1 mile/7:13
Upper Body, Abs, Glutes

6.2/44:29 (7:10 pace)

0.5 miles/3:40
Upper Body, Abs

0.5 miles/3:40

Total Miles: 12.8
Days Worked Out: 7

Do any of you bike and swim? I'm thinking about trying a triathlon. I really enjoyed getting back on the bike this morning - if only I can become a strong swimmer!

To My Husband.

Dear husband,

I love you! I know that you know that, but sometimes, I want to take the time to write it. I'm so thankful for you because not only do you take care of our family and put us first, you're you. You make even the little things fun. Thank your for last night's candlelit dinner (and the extra closet space!)! Thank you for watching DVR'd shows with me and changing the channel before the "scary shows" start. Thank you for being the best example to our little guys about what a husband, father and man is to be. Thank you for cheering me on, encouraging me and building me up. Thank you for introducing me to Survivor and putting up with my aversion to Chinese and Japanese foods. Thank you for the late night snacks we share, the little winks, sweet kisses and laughs. Thank you most of all for choosing me.

I love you more than words can say!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Honest Answers to Honest Questions

I saw this on Erin's blog and decided to do it for myself.

1. If you could do one thing differently in your life, what would it be?
I'd slow down. I went through high school, college and graduate school by the time I was 22. While I don't regret this decision because I firmly believe it all worked out so that I am in the position I'm in today (both personal and career), I do wish that I had taken time to enjoy things more. I started working (because I wanted to) when I was 15 and have worked since. A busy lifestyle coupled with a Type A Personality has made it hard for me to just sit still. My theme for this year is to Soak It In. I'm doing better with just being and not having every second filled. It's great.

2. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
In five years, I see happiness. Kevin and I will be married almost six years. I hope we'll have at least another child. The boys will be 10 and 8 (Wow. Mind blown.). I'd like to be closer to God and more advanced in my career. I want to still be running and be as fast as I am now. I'd like to have run a few half marathons.

3. Do you honestly want kids?
Yes, which is a good thing considering we already have two! You can read all about how I became an Anna Belle here. Ideally, in a perfect world, we'd have two more children. And if I can be really picky, a boy then a girl. I've always wanted four kids. I love children and I know the hard work that's involved in raising them, but there is nothing better than the relationship and love you have with them. And I can't wait to make the decision with my husband to have children together. I can't imagine how much stronger your bond and love for one another grows when you make that decision out of your love for one another.  

4. What has been the best moment of your life so far?
The absolute best moment of my life was the day I became Kevin's wife. Hands down, the best moment.

5. What is your life theme song?
"Walkin' on Sunshine" by Katrina and The Waves.

6. What is one thing you have yet to accomplish that you want to do before you die?
There are so many things I want to accomplish. I have goals for my life that I want to accomplish, but not a true bucket list. I want to live a full and happy life and see my great-grandchildren.

7. If you could choose one thing to be known for, what would it be?
My dedicated heart. I try to live my life in a way that is authentic. I am real and I want to be seen that way. I pour myself into my husband, our children, my health and my work. I want others to know that I am true. I care deeply and fiercely and try to put others above myself. Most of all, I want others to see that I live the way I do because of the grace that was so freely and unselfishly given to me by my Savior, Jesus Christ.

8. If you could do anything you wanted right in this very moment {no consequences, no fear, etc.}, what would it be?
If I could do anything, I'd live at the beach with my husband and kids. I'd write motivational books and speak to groups. I'd somehow work to combine my love for Christ, family, good food and running into a career aimed at drawing people closer to Jesus, strengthening their marriages and relationships and treating their bodies well.

9. What has been the most challenging moment in your life?
The most challenging time in my life was when my granddad died. It's been almost six years and it doesn't get any easier. I wish he had known Kevin and the boys. I wish he knew what I was doing now. I wish I had been able to spend more time with him as an adult.

10. Summarize yourself in one word.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A Random Wednesday

I'm linking up with the lovely Shanna today.

I'm still reeling in the fun and relaxation that was last weekend. It was the first weekend in a long time when we didn't have a million things to do. And I loved it!

I can't stop yawning. I'm not sleepy either.

I'm really excited about some projects I want to tackle this summer! I want to paint a few rooms and do a few things. I'm excited! My Pinterest boards are getting a workout!

I've run everyday during the month of April.

I love my husband.

Kaden had his first t-ball photos last night. He looked absolutely precious! I can't believe how fast he's growing up!

I walked into school with K.C. this morning. He amazes me how grown up he is walking down the halls.

I love this beautiful weather we're having!

We are so blessed and God is so good!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A New PR, Fishing and an Artful Weekend!

My weekend update is coming to you a day later than usual, but we had a great weekend!

Saturday morning started early with another 5K race. I ran in a local race in support of a children's counseling home that was actually put on by my Junior League. It was a great, flat course. It was cold (low 50's) and overcast at race time.

My legs were feeling tired Saturday morning, so I planned to just enjoy the run, but I ended up PR'ing. I said the same thing the week before at a trail race and ended up with a PR on a trail, so I'm just going to have to go in thinking I have tired legs and see what happens!

About halfway through the race, I started crying. Real tears. I was thinking about Boston and thinking about my husband at the finish line. At that very moment, it all became so real to me. While I'm not a marathoner, I am a runner and I run races at least once, if not twice, a month. I can't imagine having something that I love and that brings me so much happiness and fun taken away from me. I don't like the fear that things like this cause and while I was thankful to be able to see a police office at almost all times during the race, it was an eerie reminder of the horrid acts of last week.

After the race, Kevin and I stopped by a local breakfast place and while we were waiting, we were talking about how we could have been there. Like Kevin said, Boston is a dream of mine should I choose to run a marathon. We would've gone, he would've been in the crowd and we would've stayed to watch people cross the finish line because that's a fun part of the race.

Back to Saturday though. I was really happy with my run. I finished in 20:38 which is a PR for me. I finished another race in 20:32 a month ago, but the course ended up being short, so this was an official PR. I got passed by two guys at the end, but listening to music, I don't hear people behind me and I can't hear the people around me yelling for me to go. I knew I was the first female, so I was enjoying my run. In my next race, I'm going to take my ear buds out when I near the finish line so I can hear what's around me.

Kevin and I went fishing with his friend Saturday afternoon. I should say I went out on the boat because if the fish aren't biting, I'm not fishing! I really enjoy being out there with Kevin though and it's something he really loves. He caught three big bass!

After church on Sunday, my mom and I went to ArtFields. In it's inaugural year, ArtsFields is an event aimed at restoring a small town close to my own. There is over $20 million of art on display in the shops and buildings along Main Street. Darla Moore, the multi-billionaire financier, is from this town and has done an excellent job restoring it.

I met my mom downtown and we walked around and looked at some gorgeous artwork. My favorites are below. What's really cool about the festival is that there is an art competition including a $25,000 prize for the People's Choice winner. Several people we know have art entered in the competition and it was cool seeing their pieces.

After walking around a while, we headed over to Moore's Botanical Gardens for a garden party and tour. Her gardens were beautiful and I took tons of pictures in hopes to get something pretty to grow in my yard. (My thumb is not green!) 

All in all, it was a great weekend!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Fitness Friday and a Race Recap

Last weekend, I ran my fourth race of the year. It was a trail race and for a good cause. I love the course (I ran a 10K in this same race last year) and really enjoyed running the 5K this year. 

I wasn't really feeling like racing last Saturday morning (it could've had something to do with that sweet boy's birthday party we had later on Saturday), but went ahead to the race intending to have fun. This race had great prizes last year (I was third in the 10K) and I was really counting on an hour massage being the first place prize again. You better believe I thought about it a few times during the run!

I finished in 21:18. I was very happy with my run, especially considering that my legs weren't feeling great and it was a trail race with a few hills and some muddy patches. I was the first female and seventh overall. I ended up with an engraved medal (the boys like those), an hour massage, and two gift cards - one to Dick's Sporting Goods and the other to a salon. I was happy!

Outside of the race, I've had a good week of not only running, but working out. I've gone to the gym three times this week and run every day. In fact, I've run daily for the past 19 days.

.5 miles/3:35

3.1 Miles/21:18 (6:52 pace) - Race - 1st Place Female

2 miles/14:50 (7:25 pace)

5.68 miles/40:00 (7:02 pace)
Upper Body, Abs, Glutes

1 mile/7:40

4.1 miles/29:48 (7:16 pace)
Upper Body, Abs, Glutes

1 mile/7:40

Total Miles: 17.38
April Miles: 48.63

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Cowabunga! Kaden's Fourth Birthday Party Recap

We had a great time celebrating our sweet Kaden's fourth birthday this past weekend! When we first starting talking about his birthday several months ago (excitement building is so much fun!), he decided he wanted to celebrate Ninja Turtle style, so that's what we did! I love that the boys are both at an age where they can pick their party themes!

This year, we had his first friend party and invited all of his school friends plus our neighbors and family. We decided to have the party at lunch so we could serve Ninja Turtle food - pizza!

Saturday turned out to be an absolutely gorgeous day for a backyard birthday party! I don't have photos of all the decor due to my self-imposed time crunch (I ran a race and got home an hour before the party started), but here's what we did:

  • We served pizza, chips, Chex Mix, Velvetta and Sausage Dip and Oreo Balls (Kaden's request) along with Ninja Juice (green Hawaiian Punch) for the kids and soft drinks and water for the adults. We set up a table for the food and used a Ninja Turtle table cloth on it that I picked up in Target along with two large Ninja Turtles that the boys have. We also hung a "Happy Birthday" Ninja Turtle banner on the fence behind the food table.
  • We kept with a lime green color scheme and accented with the colors of the Ninja's masks. We used lime green table clothes on the tables where the kids ate and served the food on orange and red plates with purple napkins. Cake was served on Ninja Turtle plates that I found at Target.
  • For the cake, I turned to Pinterest for inspiration. I love making the boys birthday cakes - it's a special detail for me. Kaden picked out several elaborate two and three tired cakes including one with the skyline of NYC and actual Ninja Turtles jumping out of sewer holes. While I wish I could say I was talented enough to do that, I'm not. I ended up making a three layer chocolate fudge cake (his request) and cupcakes. I made buttercream frosting for each. I used Leaf Green coloring gel to color the icing green. I decided to make the cake's top look like a man hole cover and mixed several colors together until I got a nice silvery/gray hue. Kevin made lines using a knife on the top of the cake to make it look like the man hole. I bought pre-made Wilton fondant and colored it green. Kevin then shaped out Ninja Turtle heads. I colored more of the fondant red, blue, purple and orange to make masks to use on the actual turtle heads and the cupcakes. I bought sugar eyes from Hobby Lobby and used those on top of the masks and finished the turtles with a black icing smile. I was really happy with the cake!
  • We had a few fun games for the kids to play. Kevin and the boys made Ninja stars to use for one game. We picked up some plastic bowls in orange, blue, red and green from Walmart and those were targets for the ninja stars. We also put out our corn hole game and ladder ball as well as a tee and some baseballs. We have a nice, wooden play set that Kevin and his dad built and the kids enjoyed playing on that.
  • Each child also got a ninja belt at the party. I purchased some fabric in the colors of the Ninja Turtles' masks and Kevin cut it into strips about four inches wide. These were a huge hit and I even had one little boy ask me if he could take the extra one we had home to his big brother!
  • Kaden loves pinatas, so when I went into our local party supply store to order the balloons (you guessed it - red, orange, purple and blue plus a "Happy Birthday" Ninja Turtle balloon) and was told they had a pinata in the theme coming in, I went ahead and picked it up. K.C. was a great helper the night before the party and helped me fill it up. He even helped himself to some early treats before we hung it during the party!
  • Each child got a treat Ninja Turtle cup filled with candy, Ninja Turtle stickers, a bouncy ball and a few other things before they left. I wrapped them in celophane and tied them up with orange tulle. They turned out great!
Kaden was so excited about his party and we had a great time celebrating his fourth birthday! In his words, "it was the best birthday ever!" Who wants to bet he'll say the same thing next year? He loves his parties and we love him!

Invitations: My design based off of a similar invitation I found online and printed at home on cardstock
Ninja Turtle themed cups (for treat bags), plates, napkins, table clothe and banner: Target
Lime green table clothes, plates, napkins, sugar eyes, pre-made fondant: Hobby Lobby
Pinata and balloons: Local party store

Inspiration Board

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

What My Husband Says About Me

When I read that Becky was doing this link up, I knew I wanted to get in on the fun. I e-mailed my sweet husband a link to her post and yesterday, these responses appeared in my inbox. Here are some random facts about me from my husband!

  • Anna's positive thinking and outlook on life is contagious. If you need to better this in your life, soak in some Anna daily.
  • Anna understands what's really important in life (God, friends, family and health).  Every action she takes each day is for the right reasons. 
  • When Anna tells me that "I'll be right back, I'm just going to run one mile" that really means at minimum she's running two miles and possibly up to 7 or 8 depending on how much free time we have.  Also, she'll probably do sets of various excersice by the time I see her sweet face again. 
  • She is an exercise junkie!  She tries to get in some exercise upstairs at home while she's cooking supper from time to time which has resulted in things getting burnt.
  • Luckily she loves burnt foods (the boys and I not so much)!  I'm debating on whether she burns things on purpose because she likes them this way but uses her exercise as a cover up.  :) 
  • She gets upset when she takes time away from the boys and me doing things for herself even though she shouldn't.  She does so much for our family so time for herself is much needed and well deserved.
  • She is super competitive and loves to win!  Whether its her races or playing games at home she doesn't like to lose at anything.  Let's just say we've only played checkers once together.     
  • She is smoking fast but I know she can run even better race times.  She is smiling way too much at the end of her races and isn't tired.
  • Anna still has some work to do on the "Simplify" rule.  :)
  • She has a passion for helping and inspiring people and is really good at it! 
Thanks, babe! I love you!

To Boston

Like most of you, I can't find the words to describe how I feel about what happened in Boston yesterday. While I'm not a marathoner, this hit home for me because I am a runner and I am an American. I can't imagine how much evil someone has to have in them to commit a horrific act such as this. 

I can't imagine how the runners felt - those finished, those near the explosions and those forced to stop miles from the finish line. 

I can't imagine how those in the stands and along the street felt as they stood there to watch their loved ones cross over the finish line felt.

I just can't imagine. And I can't put it into words.

No, I'm not a marathoner, but I am a runner. I know the amount of time and energy I spend each week running. I know the excitement and exhilaration I feel as I cross the finish line whether it be in a 5K or a 10K. I know how much I love to run. 

While I couldn't wear a race shirt today, I am wearing my blue and yellow in honor of Boston. I am wearing a shirt for Boston in my race this Saturday. And I am praying for Boston - the runners, the spectators, the city. And I'm praying for all of us.

2 Chronicles 7:14
Psalm 9:10

Friday, April 12, 2013

I Confess: My Husband Is Better With Fondant Than I Am (and a few other confessions and letters)


dear kevin: I never knew you were so talented in the kitchen. I mean the fruit salad and sauteed squash you cooked earlier this week were divine, but you blew me away last night with your careful crafting on fondant turtle heads. (p.s. This is a little preview of what my sweet husband and I were doing until almost midnight last night.) Also, I hope you feel better soon. This sinus infection/allergy/whatever you want to call is not fun. I love you more than words can say. And a happy six months to you (tomorrow).
dear k.c.: You are my favorite five-year old in the world. And I am unbelievably proud of you! You are great at everything you do and you're so smart, too. If there's a toy that needs fixing, you can do it. I was so proud of your good hit in your first real baseball practice earlier this week. I love you my little blueberry ocean eyed boy!  dear kaden: When did you get so old? FOUR! That wasn't supposed to happen for at least another four years. You have the sweetest disposition and I could just eat you up. You are too cute! I can't wait for your official birthday party tomorrow - we're going to have so much fun! I love you little one! dear stephanie: I'm proud of you and I know whichever college you choose will be the right one. Not many people get into every school they apply to. No matter where you go, you'll do well and I know you'll go far. You mean the world to me and I'm so proud of you! I love you! dear running shoes: Please stop giving me blisters between my toes. They don't feel good. Also, new socks, please correct this problem so I don't have to buy new shoes. And I'd like to win my race tomorrow. dear beach: You and I are overdue for some quality time. I'm looking forward to hanging out with you soon. dear God: I don't know why, but you continue to amaze me with your faithfulness despite myself. I am blessed and you have blessed us.

This week I confess that...

... I'm not so good at following our family's "Simplify" rule. Granted, my husband picked up snacks and drinks for tonight's ball practices instead of me making cupcakes. Little steps right?

... Even though I don't follow the "Simplify" rule all the time, making a big deal out of things like birthday parties is fun and brings me joy. But I'm glad I finally believe it's ok to sign up for chips instead of a homemade snack.

... I want to watch Food, Inc. Kayla has been telling me about the "pink filler" McDonald's and other fast food places use in their burgers and it makes me sick. 

... I am going to start eating and cooking better and limiting take out. It scares me to think about what crazy things are going into my body. 

... I think I sometimes have too high expectations of others. Or maybe it's that I pay attention to the little things. Or it could be that I am tough on myself.

... I love the Build 'Em Up Series!

Health and Fitness Friday {April 12, 2013}

It's Friday which means I'm really excited and that it's also time for Health & Fitness Fridays with Jen!

I've had a great week of runs. I managed to get in 20 miles (mostly thanks to a 7 miler this past Saturday). I've also run everyday in April, but that's a post for another day.

I didn't make it to the gym for a regular workout but once this week, but plan to get back on track next week. I also did 8 minute abs one day and it is seriously amazing. I plan to start doing it every other day alternating it with my regular ab exercises on our incline bench.

Workouts of the Week
2 miles/14:29 (7:15 pace)
200 sit ups with 10 pounds
50 side twists on each side with 10 pounds

7 miles/50:14 (7:10 pace)

2 miles/13:17 (6:38 pace)

4.25 miles/31:11 (7:20 pace)
8 Minute Abs

1/2 mile/3:32 
Upper Body, Abs, Glutes at the gym

2 miles/14:04 (7:02 pace)

2.25/15:57 (7:05 pace)

Miles for the Week: 20
Miles for the Month: 31.25

I have my third race of the year tomorrow. I'm looking forward to it!

As far as healthy eating goes, this hasn't been the best week. It hasn't been the worst, but it could have been better. I want to get back to cooking more and trying new recipes especially now that we have fresh vegetables. I'm going to make a concerted effort to do better next week.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Chick-fil-A Leadercast

If there are two things you should know about me, they are that I LOVE Chick-fil-A (I seriously ate there five times in one week... two weeks ago) and I love motivation. The Chick-fil-A Leadercast provides both.

Last year, I participated in my first Leadercast via a simulcast. You can read my recap of it here.

If you're not familiar with the Chick-fil-A Leadercast, here are two things you should know:

1. It's a one-day leadership event that takes place in Atlanta and is broadcast to other locations throughout the U.S.
2. Amazing speakers share great advice and stories which can't help but to motivate you. Some of this years speakers include: 
•    Jack Welch, Former Chairman and CEO of General Electric
•    Andy Stanley, Best-selling leadership author and communicator
•    Mike Krzyzewski, Head men's basketball coach, Duke University and Team USA
•    John Maxwell, Best-selling author and leadership expert
•    Dr. Henry Cloud, Best-selling author and leadership consultant
•    LCDR Rorke Denver, Navy SEAL and star of the 2012 movie Act of Valor
•    Sanya Richards-Ross, 2012 London Olympic gold medalist, track & field
•    David Allen, Best-selling author of Getting Things Done and productivity expert
•    Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State (2005-2009), via exclusive Simply Lead video interview
(And a bonus, Chick-fil-A is served at lunch!)

I'd like to encourage you to attend this year's Leadercast or a simulcast. I'm so glad I had the opportunity to attend last year and I hope that one day, I can sit in the audience in Atlanta.

I'd like to share this awesome app with you.

And just for fun, I took the quiz and found that "Visionary" is my leadership style.

Disclaimer: I was provided a Chick-fil-A Leadercast Prize Pack in return for writing this post and sharing this app. All opinions about the Chick-fil-A Leadercast are my own and were formed through the amazing time I had last year. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Running shoe advice needed and some other random things

I had planned to post my list of 30 Before 30 today, but since I haven't quite finished it, here are some random thoughts.

1. We had a great time celebrating Kaden's birthday yesterday. The real celebration isn't until this weekend, but we wanted our sweet boy to feel the love all day. Since I feel like our lives sometimes revolve around food, here's the breakdown of the birthday meals. Breakfast was cinnamon rolls with sausage (two of his favorites).  I sent Funfetti cupcakes to preschool for his class to have for snack. Kevin and I took him to Chickfila for lunch. We had a small cake Kevin's parents brought over for him after t-ball. Needless to say, he was excited. We also let him open a few gifts. K.C. picked out some wrapped Legos (after shaking the boxes) and then Kaden picked out another set of Legos and what turned out to be a Ninja Turtles play set.

2. While I'm talking birthdays, I still haven't decided exactly what I want to do for Kaden's cake. I really enjoy making their birthday cakes and have a general idea, but I'm not positive (and I need to get started on it tonight). The cakes he likes from Pinterest are all two or three-tiers and complicated looking. I do know I'm making Oreo Balls since he requested them and they are his "favorite thing ever."

3. Last night was a night of baseball. The boys had their first practices of the season and Kevin had a church league game (which he won!). This is the first time they have played on different teams. It's going to be a fun season!

4. I need running shoe advice. I currently run in Brooks PureCadence. I'm on my second pair and I'm having some problems. I got these shoes for Christmas and I've already put over 200 miles on them, so they should be well broken in, but I'm having some issues with blisters between my toes and I don't like it. My previous pairs of Brooks have not given me blisters (including the first pair of PureCadence) and I haven't changed socks or anything else.

I love my Brooks, but I think I want to try the Mizuno Wave Inspire 9. Has anyone tried these? Also, have any of you run in Brooks and Mizunos so that you can give me your opinion on which is better? It doesn't hurt to have another pair to rotate, but I want to get something good.

5. I don't ever know how to take it when people ask me if I'm ok. It usually goes along with the "you look tired." I don't get offended (it takes a lot to offend me generally), but I always think something along the lines of "great, I need to put on more makeup or something." I had someone ask me that earlier. I'm ok, but yes, I may look tired. I stayed up way too late Sunday working on our taxes (you know how much fun that is), worked out hard this morning and we haven't really been home to relax at night this week.

What do you do in those situations?

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

{Build 'Em Up} Remembering You

I'm linking up with Erin from Blue Eyed Bride, Kelly from Kelly's Korner, Jennifer from Life in the Green House and Courtney from Lil Light O' Mine for Build "Em Up! 

To read my post on bringing faith to life, click here, and to read about the joy of playing with my kids, click here.

Regardless of your stage in life (single, married, mother), it's so important to remember to take care of yourself. It's also a lot easier to talk about than do sometimes though. I think taking care of yourself helps to make you the best version of yourself that you can be.

I know for me to be the best wife, mother, friend and employee I can be, I have to remember myself. My journey to motherhood has been different than probably that of most of you who read this blog. I went from being a single girl with a great job, many weekends spent with friends at the lake or beach and evenings full of whatever I wanted to falling completely in love with my sweet husband and his {now our} two little boys who were just two and three at the time.

Life changed. And it was for the better.

Fast forward almost two years and we're married with two very active children (4 and 5). I still love my job and I still love the beach, but life is so much fuller now. I really can't remember what life was like before Kevin and the boys. I know I was still busy, but I know that it's nothing like it was and for that, I'm so very thankful.

One of the things that concerned me most about motherhood when I was growing up (you know you daydreamed about when you'd be a wife and mom, too) was the fear of losing myself. I didn't want to lose myself for me and I didn't want to lose myself for my husband because after all, he fell in love with me for me. While I haven't become a mother in the traditional pop out a kid way, I am a mother. Yes, I may have missed out on the nighttime feedings and the very early years, but that doesn't make me any less of a mother. (There will be a time for all of that, too.) And you know what I've discovered in these past two years? I haven't lost myself at all. I'm really a better me.

Besides the whole not losing myself thing, I think it's so important to invest in me so that my people get the best parts of me. I also think it's important for the boys to see Kevin and I doing things that we enjoy and see us spending time together. I want our marriage to be something they want to have one day, but that's another post for another day.

When it comes to remembering myself, I've learned that there are two things I need every day (or most days at least).

1. Quiet Time: I need a few minutes of quiet. I'm quite outgoing/super peppy/happy, but I need some downtime. I need a few minutes each day where I don't have to think and a few minutes where I can just be with my husband. I also need quiet so that I can spend time talking to God and reading His Word.

In the mornings, I'm up before everyone and I enjoy having those few quiet minutes as I take a shower and get ready for the day ahead. I like the quiet mornings that I get (which don't happen too often) when I'm at work early and have a chance to just better prepare for the day. I love the quiet moments at night after we put the boys to bed where we can connect and just relax.

2. Exercise: Exercise is very important to me. I love to run and workout. I am better for it. Not only do I want to do this for my health (and to look good for my husband if I'm being completely honest), I want to set a good example of a healthy lifestyle for the boys. I will be the first to tell you that running and working out each day (or most days) is challenging. With work, home and family responsibilities, it's not always easy, but it's something I want to do and I manage to do it - I've run 26.5 miles this month and it's only the 9th. I'm proof that you can do it!

I like spending my evenings with my family, so I do my best to get my workouts done early in the day. I'd rather do a fast, intense workout in the morning and run on the treadmill at lunch than to take away time from my precious family in the evenings. I'd like to think I'm becoming seasoned at seizing the opportunity to do something active (besides all the playing we do inside and out). On Sunday afternoon, I ran two miles while waiting for cupcakes to bake and last night, I did 8 minute abs while the boys were playing in the tub. Does it require planning? Yes. Is it worth it? Most definitely.

I know those two things aren't as exciting as nights out, weekends away or bi-weekly manicures, but for me, they matter and make me feel good. They're the most important items on my "me" list. And in this season of my life, the most important things are my sweet husband and those two smiling little boys.

Of course, there are other things I enjoy doing for myself. You know I love to blog and it's something I do nearly every day. I won't turn down a pedicure date with my sister. I love to read everything from novels to your blogs to magazines (although I will admit I have a stack waiting to be read in our den). There are a few shows we watch (albeit, DVR'd). I love to shop and take relaxing baths. Cooking is fun. And I love to plan things and do special things for the people I love.

The one thing I still struggle with is doing things for myself when my people are around. I do sometimes, but it's hard to leave them to go do things that don't really have to be done (you know, like pedicures). Kevin and I both encourage each other to do the things we love (like running for me and sports for him) because we know how important it is to take care of ourselves, but we both (I know he would agree) feel bad for doing those sometimes. I'm assuming this "guilt" feeling goes away, but I'd appreciate any advice you want to give me!

Happy Birthday, Kaden!

My Sweet Kaden,

I can't believe that today you turn four years old! F-O-U-R years old! You are growing up so fast right before our eyes.

This past year, you have changed so much. You've lost your little round baby face and your voice, though equally as sweet, doesn't sound as young. You also say "girls" instead of "grls" (and I'm glad Daddy and I videoed you saying "grls") and you really like the girls, too. At least you have a little bit of your baby belly left!

In August, you started preschool. You go to school five days a week and you love it. You love your teacher and your classmates. Even though you don't have official homework yet, you ask for your homework every time I'm working with your brother on his. You can spell your first name and our last name, know our address and have a very large vocabulary. You surprise me with some of the words you use correctly!

You try to fight naps on the weekends now, but Daddy and I love it when you ask one of us to go upstairs to read some books with you when you're tired. You and I don't usually fall asleep because we end up reading about five books and then we talk some. I love our little conversations.

Each morning, you ask for the same things for breakfast - pancakes and grits. And boy do you love them. You also still love your chocolate milk. You really enjoy mealtime and take your time savoring your food. And every time we get in the car to go someplace, you ask for gum. The blue kind.

Kaden, you are such a helper! You love to help us around the house and you love cooking with me. Your big brother is your best friend and you want to be just like him. You love to give us all hugs and kisses and they are so sweet. You're compassionate, kind and gentle (most of the time) and don't like to upset anyone. I hope you always stay this way.

You love books. Your favorite books are Berenstain Bear books and some of our Usbourne books like "What Do Pirates Do?" You also ask to read the Bible every night. I love the faith and love of Christ we can already see in you. Just last week, as we were getting ready for breakfast, I heard you say "I love you Jesus. Thank you for dying on the cross." You know what it's about. I pray this passion for the Lord will only increase as you grow up and that you'll use your life to serve Him.

This year, you took swimming lessons for the first time. You loved them! You ask us almost every time we are at the Y for soccer when you can take swimming lessons again. Soon, buddy, I promise. You also played your first team sport - soccer! This past fall, you played on the Tiger Sharks team and this spring, you were a Lucky Leprachaun. Daddy coached both of your teams and K.C. played beside you. Tonight, you'll start your second team sport, t-ball!

We had fun doing so many things this year. We spent some long weekends in Garden City and Holden Beach and spent two weeks in Garden City this summer with BeBe, Hot Rod and Stephanie and then with Meme, Granddaddy and your cousins. You had a great time playing in the ocean - you were fearless - and riding in the boat in the inlet. You even caught your first two puffer fish (you get this talent from me!)! You recently told us that your favorite thing about the beach is going to The Point and having a picnic. That's our favorite thing, too.

You and K.C. dressed up as Ninja Turtles for Halloween this year and you looked so cute in your Halloween parade at school (and I know you're looking forward to your Ninja Turtle party this weekend!). You were the cutest little Indian at your Thanksgiving Feast and we had a blast celebrating all the things we're thankful for with our family.

Christmas this year was a lot of fun, too. You and K.C. were really good boys and were treated with many cool things from Santa Claus. Leading up to the holiday though, you loved your punch out Nativity set from BeBe and reading about Baby Jesus. You also were quick to find Cookie Pole, our Elf, each morning. Since you really wanted to hold him, Daddy wrapped him up in a towel so that you wouldn't take away his magic.

Kaden, I am so thankful for you and the big boy you're becoming. You amaze me. I love your excitement over everything, the funny faces you make and the way you like to be tickled. Your temperament is so sweet, and your heart is even sweeter. You teach me new things every day. Daddy, K.C. and I are so blessed to call you ours! I love you to the farthest galaxy and back my sweet boy. And I'll always be your Princess Peach.

I love you!

April 9, 2013

Monday, April 8, 2013

snackTAXI {Giveaway}

I don't know about you, but I find myself using hundreds of plastic bags - sandwich and snack - each month. With two little ones, I'm always using them to send in a treat for snack time at preschool and for kindergarten lunch. I also use them when I pack lunch for myself, not to mention the ones that are used to take treats with us somewhere like when we go shopping or to church.

I believe a healthy lifestyle is so important. If you've hung around here any amount of time, you know I love to run and that I'm trying to eat cleaner. A few weeks ago, as I was using a ton of plastic bags while putting together the boys' lunches for the week, it was like a lightbulb went off. I go to so much trouble to make sure that I can exercise even on busy days and I try my best to make sure I'm feeding my family healthy food, but I'm using all of these plastic bags which isn't good for the environment and I'm essentially throwing away money.

Enter: snackTAXI. snackTAXI is the producer of reusable snack and sandwich bags among other items. snackTAXI's mission is "to make high quality, affordable reusable bags that empower everyone to reduce waste, while embracing business practices that respect our community, environment, and Earth."  

snackTAXI's products are so easy to use. You simply pack your lunch like always, and instead of throwing away your plastic bag, you throw your snackTAXI bag in your washer with your dirty laundry. 

I love using the sandwich-sack I received and I'm going to give away a snack-sack. The snack-sack is perfect for any snack and is even large enough to fit a sandwich (especially for your little ones). snackTAXI has many designs to choose from and you can even make your own bag!

For a chance to win a snack-sack from snackTAXI, enter the giveaway below. The winner will be notified via e-mail by 12 PM, Thursday, April 11th. Only readers living in the U.S. are eligible to win due to shipping.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: I was not compensated to write this post. I did receive a sandwich-sack from snackTAXI to review and a snack-sack to give away. The opinions expressed here are solely mine.

Our Weekend in Ten Bullets

1. We had a great weekend! I know I always say that, but it's true. We had a really good weekend.

2. I look like a lobster. Kevin had a football game yesterday (and scored two touchdowns!) and I decided I'd wear a tank with my shorts to get some sun. We were only out for about an hour and a half, but I look like I was out all day! It's already faded in some, so I'll be nice and tan by tomorrow (hopefully)!

3. Kaden will be four tomorrow. FOUR! I can't begin to think about this.

4. I decided to organize/rearrange some clothes yesterday. We had most of the boys' clothes in our dresser (ease of getting them ready in the morning), but with the warmer weather, I decided to move most of theirs upstairs to their room when I was getting out my spring and summer clothes. It shouldn't make too much of a difference as we try to get out their clothes for the week on Sunday, but I got so sad when I was going through some of their spring clothes from last year like the 24 month items Kaden could still wear as well as all of his 2T clothes. We're boxing them up in the attic, but it was seriously sad. They're growing up too fast!

5. We picked up everything for Kaden's birthday party Saturday. The treat bags are made, presents are wrapped and plans are well underway. We're hoping for a beautiful Saturday so that we can keep the party in the backyard. I can't wait to share it with you next week!

6. I ran 7 miles Saturday morning while Kevin did yard work. I can officially run a 10K below the time needed to run as a competitive runner in the Cooper River Bridge Run. My goal is to do that in my next 10K race (you have to prove your time via a race) and then "get over it" next year.

7. Our Sunday school teacher is going to be using this book called Interview With the Devil the next few months. I downloaded it yesterday and it seems like it's going to be really good.

8. All of my boys start ball back this week. Kevin starts church league softball and the boys start t-ball and baseball at the Y.

9. When I got home Friday night, I had a nice package waiting for me from Bellevue Collection. I can't wait to share with you what I received from them as well as give away $50 to their store!

10. Kevin and I did something that we haven't ever done before on Saturday morning. We woke up and stayed in bed late (rare). I made breakfast (orange danish rolls and scrambled eggs - the breakfast of champions) and we read. We're reading this great book, Churning Waters, and neither of us could put it down. It was almost 10 am before we got up.

p.s. I'm doing a giveaway this afternoon for reusable snack bag.

p.s.s. Please continue to pray for Kevin's mom. Her second surgery went really well last Thursday. She has some appointments this week, so please continue to pray for her. 

Linking up with Sami and Carissa.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Friday's Letters, Confessions and Fitness

This is a long post, but I love linking up for each of these on Friday and I love being able to look back and see what was going on.


dear kevin: Thank you for making this birthday extra special! And thank you for cooking and having dinner started so much recently! You are the best. I hit the jack pot when I married you! I love you! dear boys: You two are the cutest people on this planet. Hands down. I love your sweet hugs and kisses and all of your snuggles. I can't wait for some fun summer times! dear kayla: Thank you for my birthday card! It made my day! dear readers: Thank you for coming back again and again. I'm really humbled that you read my random thoughts and come back for more. I love talking with you and reading your blogs. dear God: Thank you for all of your answered prayers, grace and guidance. dear weekend: You and I have a lot to do. Please bring pretty weather!  

This week, I'm confessing that...

... I ate Key Lime Pie and a handful of potato chips for dinner last night.

... I'm already hooked on this new book I'm reading.

... I got super excited when I read that the spa I like is giving a $15 discount to April babies on an hour massage.

... I sometimes wish I didn't always have to be the bigger person which I always am.

... I really want a mini vacation to somewhere warm for just a few days or a long weekend.

... I'm really excited for Kaden's upcoming birthday!

This was a good week of workouts! I managed to run all but one day and do some other workouts (predominately abs) most days. One new thing I've done this week is slow down. I don't normally do recovery runs, but I decided to do some slower runs and my legs have thanked me. One of my 27 at 27 goals is to run each day for a month and I think April is going to be that month.

We have an extremely hectic week ahead, so I'm going to plan my workouts carefully. I want to start upping my weekly mileage to be consistently around 20 miles a week and I want to start doing this ab workout that Hungry Runner Girl has been talking about.  

Workouts for the Week
2 miles/13:56; Gym Workout: Upper Body, Abs, Glutes

3.25 miles/22:35; 200 situps with 10 lbs; 50 standing side twists with 10 lbs (each side); 1 minute plank


2 miles/14:18; 100 situps with 10 lbs; 25 stadning side twists with 10 lbs (each side); 10 Burpees; 3 - 1 minute planks; 2 mile walk with KT

5.25 miles/38:38; 200 situps with 10 lbs; 50 on each side with 10 lbs; 11 Burpees

2.5 miles/18:18; Gym Workout: Upper Body, Abs, Glutes and Legs

1 mile/6:30; 100 situps with 10 lbs; 25 standing side twists with 10 lbs (each side); 13 Burpees

Total Miles Run: 16
Total Days Working Out: 6

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Churning Waters

If you've hung around my blog long enough, you know there are two things that I really love - the beach and reading. I'm really excited that I get to preview a new novel, Churning Waters, before it's published.

Churning Waters by Meredith Taylor is the first book in a series that takes place in Murrells Inlet, SC. If you like the Twilight series, you'll love Churning Waters. I can't wait to share a full review of the book with you when I finish reading it. I'm intrigued by it and I think you will be, too! 

I'll also be giving out a copy of the book, so check back for that in the next few weeks!

A Delightful Birthday Celebration!

My twenty-seventh birthday was a success! That is if you take out the part where my husband told me I can no longer say I'm in my mid-twenties. (I think mid should be moved to 23-27.)

The day started out great with my sweet family! We had breakfast and K.C. gave me $100 and $50 bills he made and promptly told me I couldn't really use them because they weren't real and he'd get in trouble if I tried to buy things with them in the store.

When I got to work, my sweet co-worker had stopped by Krispy Kreme and brought in some delicious donuts!

Later that day, I stopped by Ulta to pick up a few things, had a great workout at the gym and had my hair cut and colored. There's nothing better than a fresh hair cut!

When I got home, Kevin and the boys had decorated the house! It was so sweet!

We celebrated my birthday with our family at one of my favorite Italian restaurants. It was delicious! After dinner, we went back to our house for cake, ice cream and gifts. I had a blast!

My mom made my favorite cake, caramel, and it was so good! Kevin did such a great job getting everything ready and left nothing untouched. He had even picked up some Lays Original Chips - my favorite! It made me smile!

My family showered me with too many great gifts. Clothes, new Jack's, gorgeous necklaces and a new bag. My favorite things, hands down, were three things from Kevin and the boys though. (Trust me, everyone knows how much I loved everything and I'm normally not partial, but forgive me for being so this year.)

I may have a slight obsession / addiction with the Bush Family. I have and have read most of their books including George W.'s Decision Points and Laura's Spoken From the Heart (both are two of my favorites, and regardless of your politics, Spoken From the Heart is very motivating and inspiring). Kevin gave me autographed copies of both of those books plus the children's book Laura wrote with their daughter Jenna. To say I was excited is an understatement! My husband knows me too well!

I had an awesome birthday with my family! Twenty-six was a year full of blessings and I have a feeling twenty-seven will be, too!

Please also pray for Kevin's mom today. She has to have some additional surgery. We missed them celebrating with us last night, but are looking forward to celebrating her being cancer-free very soon!