Monday, March 31, 2014

Weekend Wrap Up: Racing in the Rain, Baby Love and Family Fun

We had a great weekend. Last week was really busy, so I was looking forward to a Friday night with no plans. When we made it home, I cooked spaghetti. It's one of my favorites and the boys love it, too, which is always a plus. Our neighbors have kids around our boys ages and they came over and played. Kaden and AB are in the same class and just love each other. They had fun watching something on Netflix.

After we ate, my sister and her boyfriend stopped by for a few minutes. It's always nice to see them.

On Saturday, I hosted a baby shower and one of the things I was responsible for was making a diaper cake. I made one of these for a shower a few months ago and it was really easy. On Friday night, Kevin and K.C. helped me roll up diapers and we got it put together in twenty minutes or less. I've seen a lot of tutorials on Pinterest, but the way I did it was so easy. Next time, I'll take pictures of the steps.

I had a race on Saturday morning. It started raining on Friday night and poured all night, so the boys' soccer game was cancelled. We dropped them off at Kevin's parents while we went to the race. We typically take them with us, but with all the rain and icky weather, we didn't want them out. I'm thankful they have grandparents nearby who are always so willing to help us out in a pinch!

The race was fun and wet. I decided not to push it since I have been sick and spent the day in the ER with a kidney stone. I was happy with my time. I finished in 21:39 (6:59 pace) and was first female and fourth overall. You can read the full race recap on my running blog, Running Smiles.

After the race, we went home and showered and picked up the boys. Kevin's dad had made lunch, so we ate with them and then headed to my parents.

My best friend from childhood is having a baby anytime now and my mom, another friend and I had a shower for her. We had it at my parents' church and it was for the ladies of the church. I didn't do a great job taking pictures during the shower, but I did get one of the diaper cake and some of the food before it started.

While we were at the shower, the boys and Kevin hung out with my dad. The boys got to help him drive a tractor. They loved it!

We stayed at my parents' and visited that night. We picked up dinner and both of my grandmothers ate with us. It was nice catching up with everyone.

We were early for church yesterday! I don't know what it is, but we're always running out the door at the last minute for Sunday School, but yesterday, we made it early. I guess when we decided to start getting ready at 8 am, it helped!

After church, we ate lunch at Kevin's parents. His dad cooks lunch some Sundays and invites us over. It's always nice!

When we got home, we went outside and flew kites. The boys had a blast!

Kaden's kite got stuck on top of the house once, but it was K.C.'s that didn't make it back inside. He flew it for about thirty minutes and then wanted me to wind it in. As I was winding it in, it flew away - into the trees in the woods behind our house. We were still watching it blow in the wind (in the tree) last night.

I worked on getting our built ins decorated some more last night. They're really coming along well. Kevin also framed and hung up a new picture in our room. I'm ready to get our house back in order.

This week, it's supposed to feel like Spring the whole week. I'm so excited! I love this time of year. Kevin has some ball games, the boys have their last two soccer games and my birthday is Thursday!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Refreshment and Intentionality

Lately, I've had such a strong sense of refreshment and renewal. I've really been trying to slow down in life. While we are pretty busy, most of the busyness is meaningful. And I love that.

I've been trying to do better with enjoying every moment and not worrying about the things that need to be done. And you know what? It's better that way. Life is full, but it's unbelievably full of love and fun.

Being intentional with my time is important to me and has become even more so. For me, this means that I try to plan everything that I can ahead of time (and I know this can be annoying, but it really helps). It means that I think through to what we have going on. It means that on Fridays, I try to meal plan for the week ahead. It means that on Sunday, I try to iron our clothes for the week ( or the boys', at least). It means that I'll sacrifice some sleep in the morning or rest in the middle of the day for exercise. It means that when I'm home with my husband and children, I can be totally focused on them.

There are only so many waking hours in a week. As much as I wish I could add a few hours to each day, I know I'd fill them full. I feel like God has been showing me and teaching me how to be intentional with my time lately. And lately, I feel Him working in my life and I know it's because I'm slowing down and listening to Him and looking for Him in everything. He's convicted me about things that I wouldn't have imagined and He's shaping me to be more like Him. And that is so refreshing.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, 
so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit! 
Romans 15:13

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The ER is no place for me

I spent the day at the ER yesterday. It was not fun. Neither was the kidney stone I had.

I woke up with excruciating pain in my back and abdomen Sunday morning about 6 am. After laying on our cold, tile bathroom floor, drinking some ice cold water and letting an hour pass, the pain subsided. We went back to sleep for about an hour and then got up and went to church. I had dull pain all day, but nothing crazy like that morning, so I didn't really worry about it. I went to the doctor last week for a sinus infection and have been taking some medication for it, so I just assumed it may have been related to that especially since I don't ever take medicine.

Fast forward to yesterday morning. I dropped Kaden off at school and got to work a few minutes early. As I was settling in for the day and looking at emails, that crazy pain started again. By 8:40, I had called Kevin and my co-worker was driving me to the ER. She was a life saver. Kevin got there about five minutes after us.

About half an hour after I got to the ER and after a Tervis full of water, the pain started to leave again. By this point, my dad was there, too. He said it sounded like a kidney stone. He's had one before and I have a family history of them. When the nurse called us back for the initial check of blood pressure and all of that, she said it sounded like a kidney stone, too. I, of course, googled kidney stone and all the signs pointed to it.

Another hour or so later, the pain started back again and was even more intense. I have a pretty high tolerance for pain, I think, and at this point, I was shaking uncontrollably and on the verge of tears. No matter how I moved around, nothing would stop the pain.

When we finally made it to the back of the ER, the pain had calmed down tremendously. We laughed because it seemed like when I saw the nurse or doctor, it was much less intense (a good thing if you've ever experienced this). I hadn't taken anything at all for pain (I think the doctor was surprised). I received an IV with a low dosage of pain medication (I'm really a baby about medicine and don't take it unless I absolutely have to) that took it away completely.

A few hours later, I had a CT scan done. They were fairly certain I had a kidney stone, but wanted to check to be sure. While I was lying there during the scan, I just kept praying that if it was a stone, it would be in my bladder already (the thought of having to endure that intensity of pain multiple times until it passed was not appealing). And I kept reciting verses in my head, particularly Exodus 14:14 (The Lord will fight for you, you need only to be still.) I can't tell you how much that comforted me.

The doctor came in an hour later and told us that it was in fact a kidney stone, but that it had moved into my bladder. My kidneys were also clear of any other stones which was a relief. He said that more than likely, I experienced all the pain before I had the medicine and that all the water I had been drinking had flushed it there, thankfully. I can't even put into words how relieved I was about that. God definitely answered prayers!

We were able to leave with a few prescriptions for some medications in case this happens again. With a family history, the doctor said it was likely that I could experience another one at some point. I was exhausted last night from the whole day and slightly sore as well, but thankfully, the stone is gone. It was nearly the size of a piece of pepper before it's ground. The boys couldn't understand how something that small would hurt so much! 

I'm so thankful that this ordeal is over. And I have a pretty awesome husband (and family) that took great care of me. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

My Favorite Running Gear

*If you're primarily interested in reading about running, I've started a new blog, "Running Smiles" where I'll write all about running. It's not pretty at all. Yet. I want to keep this blog focused more on other things with the occasional post on running, but Running Smiles will be all things running.

I'm linking up with The Lady Okie and Sunshine to the Square Inch today and talking about my favorite running gear. I've written about my favorite gear in the past, so you can check that out here.

As any runner knows, the most important piece of gear is your pair of shoes. About three years ago, I bought my first pair of Brooks and I haven't looked back. While my first pair were an Adrenaline GTS model, after I began racing about two and a half years ago, I switched to Books' lightweight line, the Pure Project. I run in Brooks PureCadence. I'm on my fourth pair of these (I think). I tend to pronate when I run, so I need some stability, but I like a lightweight shoe. The PureCadence is a great fit for me. I've heard rave reviews from other runners who run in different models of the Pure line and they love theirs as well.

I live in the sunny south, so the majority of my running with the exception of winter time, is done outside in the heat and humidity. I like to run in tank tops. Most of my tops are some type of Nike dri-fit. I prefer the Racer tank. I have quite a few dri-fit t-shirts as wells for those days that it's slightly cool or to use as another layer in the cold. I also have a few Reebok Dri Fit tanks that fit as well as Nike, but are slightly less expensive.

I am very loyal to my Nike Tempo running shorts. With the exception of a few pairs of monogrammed shorts from Old Navy (their brand is great) and another brightly patterned pair I picked up at Dick's Sporting Goods, all of my running shorts are Nike Tempos. I just love them.

Almost as important as the type of shoes you run in is the type sock you wear. I doubt it will surprise you that I run in Nike socks. I like Nike's dri-fit no-show socks. I also like the no-show socks from Finish Line. It's their in-house brand and in my opinion, they are as good as Nike's. Mine have a little more cushion than my Nike socks and I like to wear those when I'm doing a longer run.

As far as other gear is concerned, I have a pair of compression socks that I like to wear after some longer runs. I bought these Red Lion Neon Glide compression socks from last year and love them. I didn't want to spend $45 or more on compression socks since I wasn't sure if I would like them and because I'm not a half marathoner (typically) or a marathoner and I don't feel the need for compressions socks running 5Ks and 10Ks. I will say that buying these socks is about the best $15 I've spent on non-essential gear. I wore them after my half last year and wear them around after 7-8 milers. I don't run in them though.

Finally, I don't ever race without my Garmin. Kevin gave me a Garmin Forerunner 110 for Valentine's Day a few years ago and I love it. If you're interested in purely time, distance and pace, I'd suggest this model. It also comes with a heart rate monitor. 

What are your running must-have items?

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Eating Habits

I watched a really interesting video called "How To Eat Like An Olympian" from the Huffington Post a few weeks ago regarding what Olympians eat. It made me think about what I eat, and while I'm far from an Olympian, I like to fuel my body as best as I can so I perform as well as I can during races and can model a healthy lifestyle for our boys. But, that doesn't mean I only eat clean or healthy things all the time. I really believe a balanced diet is important and I don't think denying myself sweets or something fried is necessary.

On a typical workout day (5-6 days a week), I run anywhere from 3 - 8 miles and strength train. On these days, I'm way hungrier than I am when I take a total rest day (no running or real exercise, though I'm always doing something active whether it be playing outside with the boys, running around the house or taking a walk around the neighborhood with my husband). So, what does a typical workout day of eating look like for me?

Breakfast is by far my favorite meal of the day and I love breakfast foods any time of the day. Depending upon the morning, I'll have whatever I cook for our family. The boys are really into a French toast and waffle kick, so I make each one of those homemade a few mornings a week. I also do scrambled eggs and sausage, and occasionally, cinnamon toast. On mornings when we're running late or the boys just want cereal, I'll typically take Chobani yogurt (my favorite flavor is black cherry) and a pack of Belvita breakfast bars (blueberry) with me to work or I'll have a bowl of Better Oats brown sugar oatmeal. These things keep me full. I always have a Tervis (16 or 20 oz) full of ice water with breakfast.

By mid-morning, I'm usually hungry especially if I've run and/or strength trained before work which is what I typically do. I usually have a banana or some Chobani (if I haven't eaten it for breakfast) as a snack. I also love pistachios, so I keep a bag of those handy, too. I drink another full Tervis of water during the morning.

Lunch is always varied. I'm not a huge fan of leftovers or sandwiches which means lunch can be challenging for me especially since I'm trying to do better with eating out at lunch. If I've cooked some type of pasta the night before, I'll eat leftovers because leftover pasta is good. If we've had grilled chicken or pork chops, I'll make a big salad and cut up some of the meat for my salad. It's very rare that I'll eat a regular sandwich, but if I do, it's ham with Duke's mayo. I also try to eat some type of fruit with lunch. My current favorite lunch fruit is cuties. I also like pita chips and hummus. I usually have a bottle of water with lunch, and sometimes, I'll take a 100% juice box (this is rare).

In the afternoon, I tend to crave something sweet or want a snack especially if I've run at lunch which I do once or twice a week. To satisfy my sweet tooth, I'll eat a Fiber One Caramel and Chocolate Pretzel Bar. They're only 90 calories and really keep me full. I also like crunchy granola bars and Nature Valley's new oatmeal cookie. I will sometimes have a banana as my afternoon snack if I haven't already eaten one during the day. I drink more water in the afternoon and sometimes, I'll make a cup of coffee. I drink half-caf coffee with only cream. While I love macchiatos and lattes from Starbucks, I rarely go there. Drinking 300 calories is not worth it to me.

I try to cook dinner most nights, though that doesn't always happen. I usually make some type of grilled meat, a side or two and some fruit. I've started using my crock pot more and we've had some good meals from it the last few weeks (roast beef and barbecue pork chops). I drink water with my dinner.

Once a week, we always go to this little restaurant after soccer practice. I am obsessed with their grilled chicken sandwiches and ranch dressing. And sweet tea. And they know us and our orders by heart which  may not be a good thing. This is definitely my weekly splurge. As a general rule of thumb, I don't drink sweet tea unless we're there or at Chickfila. If we have sweet tea at home, it's because Kevin makes it.

We usually go out to dinner another time during the week. I'm not super careful about what I eat when we go out as in I'm not going to always order grilled chicken and veggies. I usually have some type of chicken, pasta or ribs (I love them) with a salad. I'm not a french fry fan unless they're waffle fries from Chickfila or my mom has made them because she makes the best fries ever, but even with those from Chickfila or my mom, I don't eat too many. I've gotten to the point in my life where I don't want to overeat because I don't like the way I feel and a whole number 1 from Chickfila is over eating for me.

I have a snack most nights that I've worked out, typically late after the boys have gone to sleep (I know, that's bad) and it's normally cereal. I love cereal, especially at night. Currently, I like Raisin Nut Bran, Wheaties and Honey Nut Chex best. I also like Stacy's Cinnamon Pita Chips. I eat my cereal with Lactaid as I can't drink milk. For the rest of my family, I buy organic milk.

When I treat my body well by paying attention to what I put in it, I feel better and my running is better. I'm not going to ever be a 100% clean eater, but I do my best to try to eat healthy most of the time, and I would estimate that I do eat healthy about 90% of the time. I eat vegetables and fruit daily, cook with lean meats and typically only drink water. I love green smoothies and find that those are a great way to load up on fruits and veggies. With that said, I don't believe in giving up froyo, not ever having a cookie or brownie and throwing the Nutella away. I failed to mention earlier that the boys and I have Nutella dates where we eat Nutella and pretzles. It's a great idea, don't you think?

There are some things I stay away from. I don't ever - and when I say ever, I mean ever - eat fast food other than Chickfila and occasionally Zaxby's. I don't eat hamburgers from fast food places. Period. If I want a burger and I don't want to make it, I go somewhere like Five Guys. The whole pink slime thing really bothers me. I also don't drink soft drinks or alcohol. I should've prefaced that by saying that I don't consider myself a soft drink drinker, but it doesn't mean I don't have a coke or Dr. Pepper every now and then. I went about three months without a soft drink, but had a coke last week. I typically don't eat fried foods unless we're eating with someone and they've cooked something fried, I order something when we eat out that has something fried in it (like a Bloomin' Onion at Outback) or we go to Chickfila.

When I go to the grocery store, I try to shop mainly on the outside of the store. I do believe in organic food. I purchase only organic meat, milk, eggs, fruits (for the most part) and vegetables (for the most part). I also buy the hidden veggie pasta as our boys aren't crazy about vegetables and like pasta. I typically stay away from boxed dinners like Hamburger Helper, pizza kits or taco kits. When we have homemade pizza or tacos,  I prefer to buy shells/crust separately and use taco seasoning to season my meat.

If you read this whole post, congratulations! What are some of your favorite healthy snacks? What foods will you not give up?

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Sports Medicine Challenge 10K Recap

This past weekend, I raced in one of my favorite races. In the past, I've run the 5K in this race, but this weekend, I opted for the 10K. We don't have a lot of local 10K's, so when we do, I jump at the chance to race them.

I've been battling a cold/sinus thing for the past week and didn't feel great on race morning, so I contemplated dropping down to the 5K, but ultimately, didn't.

I made french toast for my family and I ate two slices of cinnamon toast and two scrambled eggs for breakfast. I've started eating this before the last few races and it seems to work well. I've gotten tired of my oatmeal!

The boys had a soccer game at 10 and the race was at 9, so I went by myself, which is rare. I knew many of the people running though, so that was good.

The weather was perfect for running Saturday morning. It was in the high-50s or low-60s and felt great. The sun didn't peek through the clouds until the last mile, which was nice.

I got to the race about 15 minutes early and had just enough time to pick up my packet, drop the tshirt in my car and stretch well.

The 5K and 10K start at the same time, with the 10K race starting almost a block behind the 5K. I felt really good at the start. It was really fun to be running beside so many of the people in the 5K. It made the race feel larger. By 1.5 miles in, I had passed my friend who was leading the 5K for the ladies. I looked at my watch at this point and was pleased with my time.

By the third mile, I was getting tired. I could feel the drainage (sorry, that's gross, but it's the truth) and I was really just ready to be done. I told myself I was over halfway done and kept on. My pace got slower somewhere around mile 4, but I picked it back up to finish.

I knew this wasn't going to be a PR race for me about halfway through based on how I was feeling. The running part felt good and I didn't feel fatigued, but my body was fighting the cold/allergies and I could tell it was taking it's toll.

I ended up finishing in 44:01 (58 seconds off of my PR) as the first female and 8th overall. All things considered, I was happy with the way I ran.

I did something after this race that I haven't ever done before - I asked if I could get my award early. The award ceremony for this race is always a big production and I enjoy it, but with the boys' soccer game at 10, I wanted to get there to see as much of the game as possible. I made it by half time of the game and enjoyed relaxing during the second half while I watched our cuties play!

Monday, March 17, 2014

St. Patty's Day Blessings

I don't really like to use the word lucky when talking about life. I'd rather use the word blessed. Sure, I use that word when I'm speaking, but really, I know that any luck I've had in life is really just God's doing - leading me to the right place at the right time if you want to look at it that way - really, leading me in His ways.

On this St. Patrick's Day, I started thinking about my luck in life. My life has been blessed abundantly and way more than I deserve. I'm so thankful for all these lucky blessings.

My husband. I am so blessed to have this man in my life. Words cannot even begin to describe how I feel about him. He is my best fried, biggest supporter and love of my life. He makes every day fun.

My children. These boys are my heart and soul. I always heard it said that the love you have for your children is entirely different than anything else in the world. How true this is!

My family. I could list something incredible about each and every member of my family - they're just awesome. I'm so thankful that I was born into an awesome family and married into one as well.

Running. While I know some may think this is silly, I'm really thankful that I run and that my favorite hobby is something that's good for my body.

My faith. I am so thankful for God's grace and forgiveness. This is the greatest blessing in life.

My career. I am so blessed to be where I am in my career. I love what I do which makes going to work fun, and I'm thankful to be at this place in this point in my life.

And, I'll leave you with these sweet treats the boys and I made for their classes:

Each rainbow is made with three multi-colored Twizzlers, pots of gold are Rolos and I found this awesome printable from Teaching Blog Addict

Friday, March 14, 2014

Five on Friday

1. My husband is home! He's been out of town for work all week and he just made it home. I can't wait to see him (and the boys and I may have a surprise or two for him tonight!)! I'm also looking forward to some good sleep tonight. I don't sleep as well when he's not home.

2. Last night, I went to see my mom in The Sound of Music. The performance was great and I enjoyed getting to see her do something she loves!

3. These two boys, my heart and soul.

4. I made my very first green smoothie this week. It was great. I used about 3 cups on spinach, a mango, a banana, about 3/4 cup of orange juice and a tsp of Agave Nectar. It was delicious!

5. Our built ins are almost done! We decided to have built ins done in our den. Last week, we had a contractor build them and they finished painting them yesterday. Now all that's left is installing the new tv, putting the knobs on and filling it up. I've wanted to get them for a while and we're both really glad we bit the bullet and had them done. This is just a picture from a few night's ago, but you can get the idea.

Linking up for Five on Friday.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Some Facts About Me

I am an easy to please person.

I am a people-pleaser.

I need to learn to say no more.

I am a wife, mother, daughter, sister and friend.

I am a dreamer and an over-the-top optimist.

I am a runner.

I don't ever eat burgers with buns unless I'm out somewhere.

I sometimes think I'm too nice and understanding.

I could eat froyo for a meal each day.

I daydream about house projects every day, but I take my time doing them. (My husband would agree.)

I like to make everyone else happy.

I should own stock in J.Crew because I pretty much live in their clothes.

I love to smile.

I won't run in any shoes except Brooks.

A cold glass of water is my favorite thing to drink.

I bite and pick at my nails, especially when I'm worried or upset.

I love pictures and preserving memories.

Handwritten notes are my favorite thing to receive especially when I'm not expecting them.

I'm too hard on myself sometimes. Ok, most of the time.

I don't like sandwiches unless they're toasted.

My favorite place to be is on the beach. I like to run around and play, but I also love to lay and read.

Uninterrupted dinner conversations with my husband are my favorite.

I feel really guilty taking me time.

I've been blessed more than I could have ever dreamed. My life is infinitely sweeter than I ever imagined.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Happy Birthday to My Better Half

Today is a very special day. It's Kevin's birthday!

I am so blessed to have such an incredible husband. He always puts us and our family first, shares love in all he does and is the most giving man I know. The boys and I are so blessed to have him in our lives. He makes me laugh and smile everyday, fills me with love and is an awesome example of what a husband and father should be for our sweet boys.

We have a fun celebration planned and the boys and I have a few surprises up our sleeves. I can't wait to celebrate this day with my best friend!

Happy birthday, Kevin! I love you more than words can say!


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

It Feels Good to Finally Be Under 20!

This weekend, I ran a 5K that supports autism awareness. If you've been around here long enough, you know that one of my race goals has been to break twenty minutes in a 5K. I've done it multiple times when running myself, but I've been hovering 15-20 seconds above that mark in races for some reason.

This weekend, that changed. And I couldn't be happier about it.

The course for this race included about a mile of off-road trail. I love trails, so I wasn't dreading this part, but with all the rain we had, I knew it would be muddy.

I don't know what it was about this race, but I started off really strong and ran my first mile in a little over 6 minutes. I was feeling great as we hit the trail about 1.25 miles in. When I got to the halfway point which was on the muddy trail, I looked down at my Garmin and realized if I kept my pace, I'd finish in the low 19's. I knew I had a few tiny hills and more of the trail, but I was really enjoying my run and kept pushing through. When I saw the last turn of the course, I was tired, but a quick glance at my watch showed me that if I pushed it, I'd not only PR, I'd break 20 as well.

When I came around the corner, I was thrilled, not that you can tell from my face. Kevin and the boys were standing there cheering me on as usual. I don't think I even mustered a big smile and I know I didn't wave; I was pushing it.

The couple that runs the timing company that was at the race knows that I've been chasing the 20 minute mark and were yelling at me through the megaphone that I was doing it as I came across the finish line. To say that I was excited was an understatement.

I finished the race in 19:48. I am still on cloud nine. I was the top female and 6th overall.

My husband has thought I've had it in me all along to run this race. I know I've been capable of it, but for some reason, I haven't been able to break through that barrier in a race. This Saturday broke that mental block.

This race was one of the best I've ever run and not because I PR'd, broke 20 or won; it was the best race because mentally I was able to stay in the race in ways I usually don't. There aren't always a lot of women around me in many of my races, so I have a tendency to start strong, keep a good pace and glide on in around twenty minutes and some seconds after the race started without really pushing myself too hard. There are quite a few really good men (some running in the 17's) that continually push me during all races, but ultimately, I'm shooting to run my best and to be the overall female. This time, I raced against myself. I know what I'm capable of (even faster, I think). I train well, and during this race, instead of listening to music and getting into a rhythm with a song, I enjoyed the view without sound.

I don't really know what was different with this race, but I think it was a number of things. Since there were no races in February, I spent time devoted purely to my core. I have a great circuit I've been doing at work each day that I'll share soon. I'm essentially doing 500 crunches, 5 minutes of planks, 150 lunges and squats and 60-90 pushups each day, five days per week. I also upped my mileage in February and for the most part, ran five days a week. I've also been doing better cooking and eating at home which I think makes a big difference. Finally, I really just believed that I would be able to do it. I'm so thankful that God has blessed me with the love of something that's so fun and good for me, and that my husband is always there encouraging me, supporting me and cheering me on constantly.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Weekend Fun: Outside Time, a Race and Family Fun!

We had a great weekend! The last few weekends have been really busy, but this weekend, while full, was relaxing.

We had to go to the Verizon store Friday night and while we were there, these two cuties had fun playing with all the tablets. I think they could sell them. When we finished there, we went to our favorite restaurant in town for a quick bite to eat.

It rained so much last week that the boys' soccer game for Saturday morning was cancelled. It ended up working out great though as I had a race. Instead of us all rushing to soccer, we were able to hang out at the race festivities. I'll do a full recap soon, but I PR'd and broke 20 minutes in a 5K race for the first time ever. To say I'm ecstatic is an understatement.

After the race, there was live music, food and a kids race. At one point, I looked over at Kaden and he was just beaming with happiness. It was his kind of morning. While Kevin and I were getting ready, he got an oatmeal cream pie out of the pantry and ate it before breakfast, which he then ate. After the race, a group was giving out popcorn and cotton candy, so we had to try that. If you know our Kaden, you know he loves snacks like me. We had a happy guy!

The boys wanted to run the kids fun run, so we watched them do that. They both darted our so fast! I'm so excited that they like and want to run races. One of my favorite memories is still the day K.C. and I ran a 2K together and he held my hand the entire run.

We spent a lot of time outside Saturday afternoon. It was gorgeous. The boys rode their scooters and played. I'm so thankful for the beautiful sunshine we had all weekend!

Late Saturday afternoon, we went over to Kevin's parents. His dad had some baby duck eggs and one hatched. They bought two more ducklings so the one that hatched wouldn't be lonely. The boys were thrilled to play with them and I think Kaden may have scared the ducks a few times as he chased them around.

I also went to visit my granddad who's in a rehab facility still and then went back to Kevin's parents for spaghetti.

After church yesterday, we went down to my parents' house for lunch and to visit. We had a great time and spent most of the afternoon outside. I love that the boys enjoy being out in the country and doing many of the things I remember doing with my dad with their Hot Rod. My sister also just got a puppy, so we got to play with it.

Kaden at Hot Rod's "Candy Store"

On our way home, we worked with the boys on using the phone. They know how to answer it and know the phone number, but when you think about it, they haven't ever really had to dial the number. We taught them how to call from the favorites button by looking at the names and how to dial the number. They laughed and laughed as they used my phone to call Kevin's.

This week is supposed to be gorgeous! I can't wait to spend some time outside soaking up the sunshine. While the first day after the time change is challenging - ahem, this morning - I love having the extra daylight when we get home.

How was your weekend?

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Birmingham Weekend

We spent a few days in Birmingham, Alabama, last week for a family wedding. Kevin's cousin Mary Evelyn got married last Saturday, so we went down on Thursday.

Birmingham was about a seven hour drive for us. We rode with Kevin's parents and opted not to take the boys. They would have had to miss two days of school (and a test) and we felt like that and the drive would be a little much at their ages. 

We left home around 9:30 am Thursday morning after we dropped the boys off at school. When we got to Augusta, it was lunchtime, so we stopped at Wild Wing Cafe. If you know me, you know I love Wild Wing. It's been years since I've eaten there as we don't have one in our hometown. We ordered the Buff Chips as an appetizer and I had the Incredible Grilled Chicken Salad and Kevin had wings. 

After lunch, we kept driving and made it through Atlanta before rush hour. We stopped one time to get gas and we may have gotten a few Dunkin' Donuts. I seldom buy donuts - maybe two or three times a year for the boys last soccer games - and these were good. I had an apple fritter for the first time. 

It was only 5:00 pm when we made it to Birmingham, thanks to the time change. We checked in the hotel and then made plans for later than night with some of Kevin's family who were also staying at the same hotel.

We drove into town Thursday night to eat at Dreamland, which from what we were told, is an iconic barbecue place in Birmingham. The restaurant was near the UAB campus, so we were able to see it. Literally the only things sold at this restaurant were ribs, barbecue and fries. Kevin and I ordered a half rack of ribs to split and some ranch fries. We seldom eat fries or barbecue for that matter, but all of our healthy eating rules went out the window this past weekend. I may have also gotten some banana pudding for dessert.

When we got back to the hotel, when hung out and visited a while and then Kevin and I watched Now You See Me. I wanted to see the movie when it came out, but we didn't get around to it. We missed the first ten or fifteen minutes which made us feel slightly lost, but overall, it was a good movie.

After breakfast Friday, we ventured out to a nearby TJ Maxx. I jokingly told Kevin we should've looked to see if there was a big race going on, and, well, he looked and there was, so we went to TJ Maxx to look for a long-sleeved shirt and arm band for me in case I decided to do the race.

We went back to the hotel and picked up my FIL and our two oldest nieces and went to lunch. We stopped at a place called Milo's that was listed as one of the places you have to try in Birmingham. We ordered the burger (the item to try). I wasn't really impressed with it. It had Milo sauce on it which tasted almost like a barbecue sauce with A1 added to it. 

After lunch, we went ice skating. I used to ice skate competitively, so I was excited about this. I obviously didn't have my skates with me, so I wore rental skates for the first time ever. The edges were almost non-existent, but I managed a quick spin and a toe-loop for old time's sake. I had so much fun skating with Kevin and the girls!

Later that afternoon, Kevin and I went to one of the mall's with my SIL, nieces and one of their cousins. It was fun. I have to say that I'm not super inspired by this spring's fashion though. I like bold and bright and everything is navy and plain. And there aren't many fitted dresses which I prefer either. I can totally get on board with the nautical look though!

We had the rehearsal dinner to go to on Friday night. It was so nice! The flowers reminded me a lot of our wedding. I wish we had taken a better picture, but here's our selfie in our hotel room after dinner.

We got up early Saturday morning for the cancer society 5K. The race was huge and after seeing a segment about it on the local news Friday morning, I decided to run it. I really wanted to see how I'd do in a larger city race. When we made it to the start, I jumped out and registered really fast. The lady who helped me said that other than the Mercedes Marathon, it's the largest race in Birmingham.

While I was standing at the start line, I overheard the man behind me telling someone that it was not a PR course. I turned around and talked with him and asked how the hills were in the race. He said you run all the way up a mountain into a gated community (it was beautiful by the way) and then back. I don't run hills as we live in flat country only about 40 miles from the beach, so I knew it would be a challenge.

We got off to a great start and I was feeling good during the race. I didn't have my Garmin, so I resorted to my iPhone in my new hot-pink arm band to give me my pace. I set my goal pace as 6:50 which would have me doing well and accounted for the hills. Amazingly, I PR'd the race by five seconds. 

February was my month off from racing as there weren't any local races. It was also my month to work on my core. I got a late start, but by mid-February, I was doing 150 or so lunges and squats a day along with 500 crunches and about 5:00 of planks (I'll share this workout soon!). I think it worked!

I finished the race as the fourth female overall (I was really proud), first in my age group and 9th overall. And there were tons of people (600 plus!) running. I was excited!

We walked around after the race and sampled some of the goodies - a to-die-for toffee cupcake, a muffin from the Magic Muffin and a smoothie from Tropical Smoothie Cafe. After the awards, I was able to get a 5 minute mini-massage. Even though it was short, it was great.

After the race, Kevin and I went by his uncle's house. He lives on the other side of the mountain from the race. When we were driving up, the bride, her sister's and her mom were leaving to go to the church, so we got to see her before the wedding. We visited with Kevin's uncle and cousin for a while. We don't get to see them often since we're so far away and I really enjoyed getting to know them better during this trip. 

We had to be at the church to take some family pictures at 3, so we had limited time that afternoon. We opted to stop at The Summit on our way back to the hotel rather than go into downtown. While it would've been fun to have seen some historical places, there's always next time. 

The Summit was great. Everything you could have wanted (besides J.Crew) was there. We ate on the patio of the Cheesecake Factory for lunch. It's another one of my favorite places that we sadly don't have. I felt semi-awkward being in my running clothes, but almost every other woman we saw was in yoga pants without makeup. I just don't generally go out like that. ha!

After lunch, we walked around and shopped some. We weren't looking for anything in particular and I didn't really want to try on clothes since I had been running, but we picked up a few things in The Gap. I got a great sweater for only $11. I think that's the best deal I've ever gotten. We picked up a few things for Kevin for his birthday as well.

We made it back to the hotel with just enough time to shower and get ready for the wedding.

The wedding was held on the campus of Samford University. It was absolutely beautiful! The music was gorgeous, the flowers were beautiful and the bride and groom were beaming with happiness. The service really centered around Christ's love which was so refreshing. 

Their wedding made me think a lot about our wedding. So many of the pieces that were played and sung in our wedding were in this one and the flowers were even similar with hydrangeas used throughout the sanctuary. It was nice!

After the wedding, we walked along parts of the quad to the reception. The bride and groom are both graduates of Samford and used to walk around campus for hours talking when they first met. They have a "Walk Our Love Story" sign that we followed to the reception. It included the day they met, their first date and even the date of their first kiss and ended with their wedding day. I loved that touch!

The reception was great. The bride's family has spent lots of time overseas and the reception was a Mediterranean feast. It was so good. I can't even describe it.  The cakes were delicious, too. The wedding cake was chocolate with cream fondant and the groom's cake was red velvet with chocolate buttercream icing. Yes, they were both delicious!

We left Birmingham mid-morning Sunday and made it home around 7 Sunday night. It was a great trip and we packed it full of fun. We were so glad we were able to be apart of the wedding!