Thursday, November 5, 2015

THURSDAY'S THOUGHTS

It's Thursday which means a lot of randomness from me!



We took down all the Halloween this week and replaced it with Thanksgiving. The kids like decorating for holidays (I'm assuming they like it. I like it and make a big deal out of it, so they think it's awesome. Side note = At what point does my making a big deal out of things become things they don't like?). While Kevin was putting our pumpkins and Halloween decorations in the attic and I was putting the Thanksgiving wreath on the door, I gave the boys a few decorations and told them to have fun. Said decorations all ended up on one table. I think it's safe to say our boys don't have a future in interior design.


When is fall weather going to get to SC? My kids are wearing shorts to school today. The high is in the low 80s today and tomorrow. I'm in a sleeveless top for work. It's November 5th. Clearly, something is wrong with this picture. I'm not complaining - in fact, I love warm weather - but seriously, I don't want to be singing Christmas carols in my bathing suit.

I need to break up with Amazon.  I was talking to Kayla earlier today and telling her how I need to quit Amazon. The convenience of ordering whatever I want whenever I want it and having it show up on my doorstep in two days with free shipping thanks to Amazon Prime makes me unable to end my relationship with this mega retailer. 



Is it sad that I sit in my car and read at lunch?  I don't always have time to take a real lunch, but when I do (and I'm not running to Target or Chickfila), I love to sit in my car and read. I secretly look forward to this hour a few times a week.

Bolthouse Farms is my new addiction. Some may choose Starbucks, but I'll almost always choose a green smoothie. I like coffee, but I'm trying to kick the caffeine. I've purchased Daily Greens and Green Goodness this week and I'm addicted to both. I don't know if it's the time change or upping my intake of veggies and fruits, but I feel more energized this week. My skin also feels softer! (And no, this isn't a sponsored post!)


Why is it so hard to decide where to eat? Can you tell I'm hungry? When Kevin and I are going out to eat, we have the toughest time deciding where to go. In his defense, I'm the picky eater. All Japanese, Chinese, and seafood are off the table. I wish there was an easier way to decide. He's pretty mellow about food and I'm pretty not, so it's not very easy. One place we always agree on is Chickfila which means we visit there way more than any sane person should. But it's good! And did you hear, they're introducing new sauces? I'm ready to try the Garlic and Herb Ranch.




What's on your mind this Thursday afternoon?

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

TAKING ON THE WORLD

Lately, I've been thinking about what makes me feel most productive and like I can accomplish my goals and everything on my to do list all at once. I'm not including spending time with my husband and children because that's a given, but these seven things give me the energy I need to feel like I can take on whatever is thrown at me each day.

1. Time in the Word. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that like me, if you're not spending regular time with God, you know it. One of the best resources available is the First 5 App from Proverbs31 Ministries. I love being served up a quick devotions as I wake up each morning. It starts my day thinking about God and puts me in a good mindset. In addition to a devotional, I also read my Bible each day. Due to the way the morning usually works for me, I do this at night on weekdays, which makes it even nicer to have something like the First 5 App to use every morning.



2. Sweating in the Morning. It should come as no surprise that I like to sweat in the morning. I don't always have time for a long run or gym workout on weekdays, especially if I'm dropping the boys off at school (Kevin and I have mastered the trade off of cooking or dropping off this year!), but I like to squeeze in a quick workout most mornings and always run on Saturday and Sunday mornings. I'd rather sweat it out early and get ready for the day than doing it twice. Of course, it doesn't always happen, and that's ok too, but when I have the option to work out in the morning or after work, morning usually wins.



3. Taking a few minutes for "me" time. I'm not a huge "I need my own time!" person, but I do like being about to have a few minutes of quiet each morning. On an ideal day, I'd wake up before every one else and sit on my favorite couch in our front room and read or prayer journal. There's just something about this time that makes this closet introvert happy.

4. A Fresh Breakfast and Healthy Foods All Day. I have to tell you, Kevin and I have been swapping off taking the kids to school and cooking breakfast this year, and my goodness, has it been nice! He is a great breakfast cook and makes us "special breakfast" when he cooks which consists of bacon or sausage with slightly cooked eggs and homemade grits. I love being able to eat a nutritious breakfast (maybe the grits aren't good for me) before work. I also like to keep healthy foods to snack on throughout the day. Belvita Breakfast Bars and KIND Bars are my favorite.


5. Making Time to Read/Relax/Breathe. One thing that I let slide that I really love is reading. This year, I've made a concerted effort to read more. In fact, I've probably read 15-20 books for fun so far this year. It may not sound like a lot or be as many as I'd like to read, but it sure has been nice. The days I'm able to, I'll sit in my car beneath my favorite shade tree and dig into a book during lunch. I've also tried to read a little bit at home most nights. My current read:



6. Laughter. I love to laugh. I smile all the time and laughing just makes it better. When I'm having fun, I feel good. Who doesn't?

7. Feeling "Put Together" When I Get Ready. Some days, it's easy to just grab a dress that doesn't need ironing and some cute shoes when I get ready, but other days, it's a challenge. (Check out my post on No Repeat November if you haven't read it yet.) I am most productive when I feel best about myself. That means those days I try to squeeze in a few miles on the treadmill, get ready for work, and leave my house in the huge time frame of about 45 minutes are not always my most productive. I try to plan ahead and make sure my clothes are ironed and ready, lunch is packed, and everything I need to take with me is on the counter so when I do run those few miles, I can quickly shower, dry my hair, put on makeup and run (literally) out the door.

What are some things that empower you and make you feel like you can take on the world? I'm always looking for inspiration, so be sure to share!


Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Life Lately {A Recap of the Past Five Months!}

It's been way too long since I last blogged. I've really missed it. I like writing my thoughts and having the ability to look back on the things we've done. And, I can tell you how hard it is to work on the boys' photo books without a log of good blogging material!

We've done a lot since I last blogged...


We spent a week at the beach in early June with my side of the family.
We had a great time as always. The boys' have gotten even more fearless about the water. The both are able to stand up on boogie boards. I don't know where our little boys went!
This week happened to also be the hottest week of the year. Think temperatures in the low 100's all week. It was hot! We had a great time though!


Kevin and I spent a week in Boston/New England in July.
I'll do a whole post on this later to remember the details. We were in Boston for a conference I attended for work and decided to make a mini vacation out of it as well, so we went up a few days early. We rented a car and drove up to Maine one day. It was beautiful! We watched two Red Sox games (and caught four balls during batting practice), toured Fenway, checked out some lighthouses, walked on some of the Freedom Trail, visited the JFK Presidential Library, and made many memories. It was a great trip!



We celebrated K.C.'s eighth birthday in July (I did blog about this!). 


We spent another week at the beach with Kevin's side of the family in August.
We had another great beach week with Kevin's side of the family in August. It's so nice that we're able to spent a few weeks at the beach in the summer. The kids had a great time with their cousins!

We had lots of Fun Fridays.
We spent our last Fun Friday of the summer in Columbia. I let the boys pick what they wanted to do and they chose to go to the zoo and Hi-Wire. My sister went with us and my SIL met us with her girls. It was fun!



The boys started first and third grades.
So far, so good. Kaden loves school and amazes us each day with how quickly he learns his spelling words. K.C. is in deep now with third grade and is doing well. I just can't believe they're in first and third grades! 



I've run a few races.


We spent the weekend in Clemson with my family for the App State vs. Clemson game.



We had a whole season of soccer.


Kevin and I spent the weekend in Clemson with my sister for the Notre Dame vs. Clemson game. 
We watched in the rain. We were soaked, but it was awesome!



Kevin and I celebrated our third (!) anniversary!



We had a surprise 60th birthday for my dad.
He didn't want to do anything, but we invited about 30 people and rented the patio at his favorite Mexican restaurant. We knew he'd be surprised by keeping it normal. It was fun!


Our church had its annual Fall Festival with 800+ in attendance.


The kids had character spotlights at school. 
K.C. read "Soccer on Sunday" and dressed up like Pele while Kaden read "If You Give a Cat a Cupcake" and was a kitty.


We had an awesome Halloween with our family!

Monday, November 2, 2015

No Repeat November



Last week, I attended a conference for work, and while it really inspired me for my job (and gave me lots of valuable information), it also inspired me for my life.

If you're like me, your days sometimes feel like they're on repeat. If you're like me, you have tons of things you want to accomplish, but you let the every day mundane things get in the way (or serve as an excuse). If you're like me, sometimes you feel like you get in a rut - and for me, that rut is in cooking the same meals and wearing the same clothes.

I recently started reading "the life-changing magic of tidying up" (don't worry, this post isn't intended to stress you out about the copious amounts of stuff you have)  and that plus the conference I attended made me start thinking and ultimately, led me to give myself a self-imposed "No Repeat November."

During the month of November, I am not going to repeat an outfit or a full meal that I cook (dinner). I'm embarrassed to show you my closet (I just may during my challenge) because it's overflowing with clothes, many of them hanging nicely on wooden hangers waiting to be worn. I'm also embarrassed to show you my collection of cookbooks and Pinterest recipes because as much as I enjoy pinning recipes, it's rare that I try something new.

Who's with me in this quest to do not repeat outfits or food in November? I plan to check in with weekly updates on the blog as well as Instagram (thethingsimlearning). Now excuse me while I try to find something to cook tonight!


Tuesday, September 15, 2015

A Fun Clemson Weekend

We had a great weekend! On Friday, we got the kids out of school a little early and headed to the Upstate to spend the weekend with my sister and go to the Clemson game.



Our first stop was my sister's townhouse. I've only seen it via FaceTime, so I was excited to see it in person. It's so cute! She was waiting on the porch for us when we drove up. The boys were excited to see her! She also had some cute treats for them (and us) which was really sweet!

We let the kids run around a while and burn some energy from the car ride before heading to downtown Clemson to look around. I got two cute game day outfits.

As soon as we planned the trip, Stephanie told us about a barbecue place she wanted to take us called The Smokin' Pig. It's been named one of the best barbecue places and after eating there, I can see why. We had to wait about an hour for a table, but it was worth it; even the boys agreed. Plus, the crisp fall air and complimentary sweet tea while we waited weren't bad.



We got up early Saturday morning to head to Death Valley to tailgate and watch the game. My parents' and Stephanie's boyfriend's parents all drove up that morning, so we enjoyed tailgating together. My dad, Kevin, the boys, and I walked down to watch the band walk by and the boys got their picture with the Tiger.




The last time we took the boys to a game, they had just turned 4 and 6 and were scared of the cannons that go off after every touchdown and kick off. I was a little worried that they'd be the same way now, but thankfully, we had no tears (about that) and they just covered their ears.



The game started off pretty slow, but as soon as K.C. and I went out to get some Dippin Dots, our team started to score and ended up scoring two touchdowns before we made it back to our seats with his snack and Kaden's snow cone.

We ended up winning the game by quite a few points.

After the game, we ran down on the field. Between the two of them, the boys got 18 autographs. They were so excited!


We tailgated some more after the game before grabbing some pizza and eating at Stephanie's.

We didn't have a whole lot of time on Sunday given that we had to drive home, but the boys really wanted to hike. There's a place called Stumphouse Mountain not far above Walhalla, SC, which was about a 45-minute drive from Clemson, that has a number of trails, a tunnel and the Isaqueena Falls. The boys LOVED it. We hiked three trails including one that went to the bottom of the Falls. It was just gorgeous!








Our fun weekend was complete with a stop at Fuddrucker's (Kevin's favorite) in Greenville.

Monday, August 17, 2015

1st and 3rd

I can't believe today marks the first day of 1st grade for Kaden and 3rd grade for K.C.! Where is the time going?



I was thinking about Kaden getting ready for first grade last night and his sweet, chubby two-year old cheeks from when I first met him kept popping into my head. I remember the day we got him ready for 3K like it was yesterday, and today, he's in first grade. He'll have tests, literature to read, and real homework each night.

And K.C. will be in third grade! I keep telling him that third grade was such a big year for me and still stands out to me more than my other elementary years. It was the year I moved to a new school, had to write only in cursive, and my sister was born. I think he is going to have a great year.

Last week, we were able to meet their teachers and see their classrooms. They both have new-to-our school teachers, but they both seem so sweet! I'm already signed up as room mom and have talked to K.C.'s teacher quite a bit.

The beginning of the school year always brings some nervous anticipation for me, but I know our boys will do well. They love to learn, love their school, and have new things to look forward to.

I've been praying all summer that they would have great teachers and I feel like God has answered that prayer. For this year, it's my prayer that they do their best, grow as leaders, and gain confidence in all they do.

I'm praying Jeremiah 29:11 for them this school year:

"For I know the plans I have for you" declares the Lord. "Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you a hope and a future."

I don't know why, but today has been rougher for me than I thought it would be (just keeping it real). I can't believe that K.C. only has one more year in elementary school and Kaden is already in first grade. They're prepared for this year, but this year, it's harder letting go!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Working out in the summer's heat



If you've hung around this blog for any amount of time, you know that I love to run and workout. That can be a bit challenging in the summer for those of us living in the South where it's not uncommon for the temperature to reach over 100 degrees on any given day with a normal humidity of something like 90 percent. For those of you who live in cooler climates, imagine sitting in a greenhouse in the middle of summer. That's about what it feels like.

Side note: A few weeks ago, Kevin and I were in Boston for a work trip for me. The news was playing in the background as I was getting ready one morning and the meteorologist was warning people about the high humidity - it was going to be near 70! I laughed. My hair really appreciated the low humidity there though!

That said, not working out in the summer is not an option. It is, after all, when we want to work out, if only for vanity's sake. So how do I, avid runner and exercise enthusiast, manage to work out in the summer?

It's challenging sometimes, especially when you add vacations to the mix (by the end of summer, we will have traveled for about four weeks), but it must be done or else I feel grouchy and chubby (I'm being truthful here.).

Running is my first love, but running in the heat is no fun. Even 8 am races are torturous this time of year! Since I do race throughout the summer, I hate to take all of my training indoors on the treadmill because then I feel like I am just going to die after a race in the heat when I've been running in my perfectly cool house WITH a fan blowing on me for three months. (Trust me, I've learned that the hard way time after time.) So, this summer, I've decided to take a different approach: I'm running outdoors, but slower.

A simple Google search of "adjusting running pace for heat" will give you so many calculators and articles to read. Just for fun, I decided to try one. Keep in mind that the "ideal" temperature for racing 5K's is said to be somewhere in the low 60's (63, to be exact, depending upon what you read). Here, in my warm state, I need pants to run when it's in the 60's!

Using a Runner's Connect calculator with 19:30 set as my 5K pace (I choose this number as it falls around a typical 5K without too much exerted effort for myself), I should effectively be running my 5K races in 95 degree heat in 20:31. This calculator doesn't factor in humidity; I'm scared to see what it would say!

Since races are always faster than regular runs (I really dislike the term "training runs" because I feel like I run, to run, not always to train for things.), this goes to show that my regular runs should, in fact, be much slower in the summer even if I'm not purposefully trying to run slower. This in itself makes me feel better since I really have a hard time dealing with running slow for me (it's a mental thing).

So, how am I surviving running in the heat when I want to run fast and be on my treadmill, while my body knows I need to slow down and stay acclimated to the heat? I'm running early or late, outside. I'm hydrating really well throughout the day. I'm slowing down to the tune of something like 7:10ish overall pace for most of my runs. I'm wearing light colors. And I'm filling my sports bra with ice as soon as I walk in the door. Yes, girls, fill your sport bras with ice after a hot, sweaty workout. Trust me on this. It cools you down faster and you feel good!

In addition to running, I try to add in some additional training. It's hard for me to make it to my gym in the summer due to a compressed work week -- I'm actually toying with the thought of breaking up with my gym if I can't get back in a routine in August, but this will be a tough breakup for me if I go through with it. I mean, I've had a nearly fifteen year! relationship with it! Since I nonchalantly throw around how hard it is to make it to the gym during summer schedule when I have to be at work 30 minutes earlier each day to account for my Fridays off, I will tell you that some great and free resources I've enjoyed this summer come from the Tone It Up girls. How I've missed them for so long, I don't know, but are they good or what! I've started doing TIU yoga videos a few times a week as well as abs and booty workouts. I can tell a difference, too!

There you have it: my summer workout routine. Sweat outside because I must with some slower runs (usually no longer than 5 miles at a time) and do yoga/strength training with my kettlebell and Tone It Up girls in my workout room.

What do you do to stay motivated in the heat?

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Sapelo Island Fun

I really, really, really want to get back to blogging! I enjoy it and I love to look back and see the things we were doing and the things I was thinking. What better way than with a quick recap of a really fun trip we took!

A few years ago, Kevin and I went to Sapelo Island, Georgia, for our first anniversary. (Read about it here and here.) We absolutely adored the natural island and it was great being "unplugged." Back in June, after the kids finished school, we went back and took them and Kevin's parents with us. It was just an awesome week.

Not more than fifty people live on Sapelo, so it's a really quiet place. There aren't any stores and just a gas pump to fill your vehicle (that's already on the island) and boat. It's really this idyllic setting.

The only way to access the island is by personal boat or on a ferry that runs twice each day. We took Kevin's dad's boat with us. I can't imagine being on the island without a boat.

Since the distance from land is about seven miles and it's all through creeks and inlets, we had to time the tide correctly to avoid getting stuck in the shallow water. We made it over as the sun was setting and an alligator greeted us at the dock! It's crazy to see all of this wildlife up close and personal (and this coming from someone who grew up in the country!).

Our friend who owns the home we stayed in has an old truck on the island, so we loaded it up with our things and all of our food for the five days we were there.

Since it was the first time the boys and my in-laws have been to the island, we took them on a tour on the way to the house. It is really just so beautiful. See for yourself. I'll let the pictures do the talking!




There are lots of wild animals on the island. We saw bull, deer, an alligator, an armadillo, and so many other animals in their natural habitats.

It was nesting season for the turtles. There must have been hundreds of marked nests in the four nights we were at Sapelo. Kevin and I ventured out one night to look for ourselves, but somebody (me) chickened out. It's really dark!



Kaden was excited to go to Sapelo! 




The boys wanted to catch a shark, so we caught three (and a stingray!)!




The horse shoe crabs were also mating while we were there. There were hundreds washed up on the shore.

I think moss is beautiful. There's something so serene and Southern and just lovely about it. Our kids on the other hand, felt it spooky!