Friday, December 28, 2012

The Watch Situation

If you are reading this, I took "The Watch Situation" post out of draft form. It is funny how a small, seemingly insignificant moment in my day could rock my world like a asteroid blasting into my living room. I think the small chain of events that occurred resulting in this: "The Watch Situation" post, have actually been a product of a looming change in my brain for quite a few months.

Now, do I dare remind myself:

Photo Credit // Treks in the Wild
There. I said it. I mean, I read it. I mean I shared it.

There. It is the most important thing I could remind myself of this week:

"Collect moments, not things."

Gah, but it stinks doesn't it? Things are beautiful. Things are satisfying. Things fulfill me. Things make me pretty. Things make me:

Better.
Smarter.
Savvier.
Happier.
A better mom.
A better person.
A better cook.
A better wife.
In better shape.
Tougher.
Wiser.
More responsible.
Craftier.

Blah...blah...blah.....

Things don't make me any of these. I make myself.

So, what does a watch have to do with any of this?

I wanted a stupid, expensive watch for Christmas. When I received said watch from my husband, I nearly trembled opening the box I was so excited to get it. I watched my kids opening their Christmas gifts. The joy on their faces and little squeals from playing with their new toys. I exuded the same, "oooo-ing" and "ahhhh-ing" behavior over my pretty, fancy watch, which I am sure I saw on some blogger via Pinterest or some other shopping site I was drooling over during nap time. A watch which was a fantasy.

I was so excited about my watch, I brought it over to my parents on Christmas and made sure everyone saw it. When I got home, I took out the watch again, wore it proudly, and made plans to get it sized the very next day at the mall.

The watch and I had a blissful, consuming relationship for a solid 12 hours on Christmas. If you looked for me, you would find me staring into the mirror, holding up my watch to my face. How could two things, the watch and I, fit so perfectly together?

After the kids went to bed Christmas night, my husband pulls out the dining room chair and starts his very favorite activity of the week: bill paying. Oh, yes. My husband paid bills on Christmas. Not only did he pay bills on Christmas, he wrote out our 2013 budget plan that night as well.

The watch and I broke up.

Everything beautiful, precious and special about the watch, was only a memory.

You would think hearing "2013 budget" coming from my husband would just make me feel a little guilty about getting a ridiculous watch a mere 12 hours earlier. However, this small moment made me realize I had been prancing around over an item. An expensive, piece of metal. I had let myself receive some THING to somehow fulfill something inside me.

I let a watch make me feel happy, better, beautiful, satisfied, and fulfilled.

Suddenly, I felt really, really stupid. I looked at the watch and it made me ugly.

Sometimes, I get so hurried over the consumption of everyday things: I need. I want. I get. I gawk over THINGS thinking I need them to be happy. In reality, I already have everything I need. I have my husband, my kids, my family, food on the table and my home.

Everything else, is just a stupid watch: a distraction.

So, where do I go from here? Do I return the watch? Do I neglect myself the gift from my husband? Will I always look at the watch and think I succumbed to the happiness of a THING? Aren't I allowed little joys in my life that come from things?

What a list of questions to answer for myself. Questions once answered, I know, will help make me a better person in the end. A person who doesn't have to have things to feel something.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Cinnamon Sugar Doughnut Muffins

I'm sorry, did I just say "Cinnamon Sugar Doughnut Muffins"? Oh, yes I did.

After some usual late night Pinterest last night, I left the recipe to these delicious muffins open on my phone. I wanted to be sure to remember to make them for the boys and I first thing in the morning!

 
I found the recipe via Sweet Pea's Kitchen. With holiday traveling, I didn't grocery shop before the we left and our fridge was looking a little barren. I thought I would look up a recipe or two for a new breakfast for the boys considering we are out of our usual. 
 
The boys started their morning with dry cereal and milk while I put together the muffins. After the muffins were made, David enjoyed dipping them in the butter and then cinnamon sugar.
 
These muffins taste nearly identical to the mini doughnuts you get at the fair! Next time, I will make them in a mini muffin pans to enhance the comparison to mini muffins.
 
Cinnamon Sugar Doughnut Muffins
 
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup oil (or melted butter)
3/4 cup white sugar
1 large egg
3/4 cup milk
For the Coating:
1/2 cup melted butter
3/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Line 12 muffin cups with muffin liners or spray with nonstick cooking spray.
In a large bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon.
In small bowl whisk together oil, sugar, egg and milk.
Add liquid ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Divide batter equally among prepared muffin cups.

Bake until muffin tops are a pale golden and springy to the touch, 22 to 24 minutes, rotating halfway through baking time.
While the muffins are baking, combine sugar and cinnamon in a medium-sized bowl. Place melted butter in a small bowl.

Once baked, shake muffins out immediately and while hot, dip in melted butter, then roll in sugar and cinnamon.
 

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!

 
Wishing you and your family a Happy Holidays!
 
Still need a holiday template like this one to print and hand out at your Christmas celebrations?
Find them here!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Efficiency, Re-Organizing, Prioritizing, and Maybe Burning the House Down

My life.
Sometimes, those Some-E-Cards really sum up your life, don't they?

Last night, with my feet cozy in Pete's lap, I had a mini-meltdown concerning the New Year and all the projects I hope to accomplish in 2013 (eeks, and all the projects I didn't accomplish in 2012). My complaints about the house came out in one large spew of word vomit, nothing directly related to Pete, but my concern was laid out in a very "I'm #$#)@#! serious about getting this house live able" tone.

For starters? Our house is plenty big enough to accommodate two little boys, Mom and Dad. Why do I feel like I am living in a shoe box? We are wasting so much space with furniture and storage items we never use. Goals for solving these issues?

Clean out office/storage/downstairs bedroom which will eventually be the boys' bedroom.
Remove wet bar in downstairs basement which will eventually double our downstairs living area.
Appropriately organize storage in downstairs laundry room.
Deal with the heaps of Top Drawer Vintage. <---More about that soon!
Install more pantry space in dining room.
Remove overhead hanging cabinets.
Sell or donate remaining unused furniture in garage.

Our house was built in 1967. There is so much glorious wood paneling, gold hardware, and outdated, dirty wall paper. Our house needs some major modern updating. I cannot look at it for another month. I might just burn the house down. While I am thankful the downstairs wall paper is white, we have put off removing it because it is not the worst eye sore in the house. However, day time comes and I have the down stairs shades open, I can see every dirty seam. It drives me crazy.

Removing the upstairs wall paper in 2009.
Goals for solving updating issues?

Update all cabinet hardware in kitchen.
Update appliances (this might take a few years budget-wise but at least we know we want change).
Removing wall paper in basement.
Removing most (I do like some of the paneling) wood paneling in basement and downstairs bedroom.
New closet doors.
Update door hardware in house.
Replace carpet in downstairs bedroom.

Wood paneling in downstairs hallway.

If you bought a house in the last 7 years, you are probably in the same boat as us and stuck it in. The value in our home has gone down so severely, even if we were serious about selling, we would never make it financially. Knowing it will be years before we could ever move, I am going to try to find peace this upcoming year by taking care of my home in the best way I can. There are many odds and ends projects that would make me happier about living in my house, like:

Replacing all window treatments.
Making downstairs bedroom a boys room.
Getting a new, larger kitchen table and creating a pleasant dining place.
Replacing love seat and getting a new ottoman in basement.
Getting a new duvet cover for the master bedroom.
Creating a better laundry system.
Updating faucets in bathrooms.

Of course, all of these said projects need to be completed in some sort of said budget. Did you hear my "wah-wah" from where you are reading? Shopping on a budget really is part of the fun for me. You can often find me in the aisles of stores with my coupon book, gift cards, and phone calculator out. I am one on the cheap shopper, let me tell you!

Hopefully, I can link back to this post and start crossing some of my 2013 projects off the list. I should be enjoying the last few days of the year in a non-project bliss. For come January, it is either the house or me. Only one is coming out alive...

Friday, December 7, 2012

Guest Post on Live the Fancy Life: From Braces Face to Mom Jeans

Hey all!

Check out my guest post: From Braces face to Mom Jeans on Live the Fancy Life today! Jessica, the blog writer, and party planner extraordinaire, asked about my experience with braces. We had a great time compiling the post this last week.

Be sure to check out my 8th grade yearbook photo... yikes!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Then and Now: Painting with my Kids

I am a very blessed person to have had an amazing childhood. It was nothing extravagant, as in, we didn't ever go to Disney World and we didn't get happy meals from McDonald's. My siblings and I didn't need much besides each other and our back yard. My mom was a stay-at-home mom. I know the biggest reason I decided to be a stay-at-home mom is because she was such a great one.
 
Painting at the kitchen table as a kid.
 
I want to give my kids the same experience I had. I want them to grow up knowing they will always have each other. Not that kids don't get that without stay-at-home moms, but I only know what I know, and I do things the same way my own mom has. So far, our life is exactly how I hoped it would be.
 
Yes, I wish my husband was home more, but so did my mom. There are hand fulls of things I would change about our life, but overall, we are happy and we are together.
 
There are plenty of days when I know I could be doing more, doing better as a mom. We have so much time together, I should be utilizing as much as I can of it for learning. Some days, I just get lazy. It is easier to do what we always do. Sometimes I think, is more work to be creative.
 
Well, it really isn't more work to be creative.

In my case, it just meant grabbing paints instead of our usual color crayon box yesterday. This 45 minute, washable craft, left me in pure bliss. I just sat with my coffee, watching David paint and discover all the new sensations and creativity that comes with it. James is still too little for paints, but he still participated with crayons!


Afterwards, the kids took baths and we had lunch together. Then it was nap time. It was a fun, easily transitioned morning and I need to remember how easy it is to do something different for a change. While it was just paints, the small adjustment  made our ordinary day, extrordinary. Think of all the possibilities out there to help our kids learn by tweaking ordinary crafts here and there! There are so many things to do and so little time to do them.
 
Did you do something fun with your kids yesterday?

Monday, November 26, 2012

What's in my Google Reader Tonight?

I have been on Blogger for at least an hour tonight. I was planning on just checking my e-mail, but I got sucked into my Google reader. There are some great reads in there tonight, and I thought I could share some of them with you.

Meghan, at High Plains Thrifter, shares some of her weekly finds in her Clickin' Around volumes. I love getting her post updates in my inbox. I think of this post as an homage to a fellow blogger who likes to link with some seriously good taste.

So , what's in my Googler reader tonight that is so interesting?

Joanna, at A Cup of Jo, asked her readers if they were for or against children sharing a bedroom. It seems like such a simple question, but it is a very important one (proof is in the 195 comments!). We knew immediately David would be sharing a room with James when he was born. It has been the most amazing experience to watch them grow into a relationship with each other. Sharing a bedroom has only heightened that experience for them. I wouldn't have their situation any other way.

Photo Credit //  Meghan McEwan

Emery Jo, at Moms are for Everyone, hosted Thanksgiving in her barn last week. The barn was set up rustic and so delicately chic. I have had a few garage parties over the years for the boys, which one party was in the middle of Winter and one of the middle of the Summer, neither turning out well. It is a dream to have a little rustic outdoor like this one, someday.

Photo Credit // Moms are for Everyone
Songstress, Chantilly, releases herself from unnecessary sources of guilt (like feeling not inspired enough or not being creative enough) because sometimes when you are in a rut you haven't lost anything. She reminds us "it's part of the process, sometimes."

Photo Credit // Chantilly Songs
I have been obsessed with The Pineneedle Collective's kitschy DIY projects lately. Here is another one from Annika where she made her own sweater collar clips. Sigh. I wish I were craftier!

Photo Credit // The Pineneedle Collective

I am a sucker for a huge, fluffy, bursting hydrangea. I would love to cover my entire yard with them but Pete just can't love them as much as me. We had hydrangeas as out primary wedding flower. My Mom even left me a hydrangea plant on our doorstep for our first wedding anniversary. Helena, at A Diary of Lovely, links to drying hydrangeas for months of visual (if not sentimental) enjoyment.

Photo Credit // A Diary of Lovely

Lastly, I seriously wish I were as cool as Sandra from 5 Inch and Up. There must be three people on the planet who can pull off the H & M Trend pants, in leather look, as well as her. Sometimes, I just want to transport my being and be someone else for a few minutes. Well, I guess I am in a leather pants-park stroll-London kind of mood tonight. Oh yeah, and I would be an awesome blond, too.

Photo Credit // 5 Inch and Up
Two hours later, and I better give it a rest. This week proves to be one of the busiest weeks of my life. Between: acting coaching for this years Madrigal Dinner, birthday parties, Christmas festivities with the kids, and Matron of Honor duties, this week is going to be a crazy.

Any good reads keeping you up tonight?

Friday, November 23, 2012

Black Friday - What I Bought

I love shopping. I really do.

I don't like Black Friday. I don't love shopping enough to be one of the crazies: dragging my kids though the mall, or waiting in line at Target at 11:59 pm on Thanksgiving night. I reserve the right to change my mind at any point in my life.

I do, however, love me some Black Friday sales. Here are few examples of what was shop worthy to me today. I did my shopping from the comfort of my own chair while the boys napped. Ah, bliss.

I couldn't buy anything for myself. It seemed so pointless. There are a lot of things I wanted (here, here, and here), which I placed into my online shopping cart and then clicked the browser closed. My Mom has been asking for a Christmas list and it seemed silly to buy something for myself when someone in my family could so easily get it for me as a present.

Children's Place
I love when my boys wear matching our coordinating outfits (don't ever tell their father I put them in "outfits")! It just makes me happy inside. Both boys are due for new fleeces now that the temps are dropping below 30 degrees around here.

Matching (but not matching) Fleeces: Reg. $12.95, Sale $7, Code 30% off and Free Shipping BF2012HP = $4.80 ea.


Land's End
I am always putting long sleeves under David's tees and sweaters in the winter. I thought a mock neck would be good for when he is playing outside, too.

Long Sleeve Solid Performance Mock Turtleneck: Reg. $16.50, Sale $4.97, Code 30% off and Free Shipping: HOLIDAY 2126 = $3.48 ea.


Cotton Babies
After trying many, many brands of cloth diapers, Flip covers with prefolds are my favorite combination of diapering. No leaks, ever.

Flip One-Size Diaper Cover: Reg. $13.95, Sale B1G1, Free Shipping = $6.95 ea. (seriously, after typing that I am considering buying more right now...)



 Tell me about your Black Friday shopping experience!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Meal Ideas for Your Two-Year Old or Toddler

For a few weeks when David was 2 years old, I tracked everything he ate. Now that James is 1, and starting to eat almost all finger foods, I revisited David's food diary for new ideas for what to feed James.




I kept the document on Google docs, so I could remember to update it throughout the day when I was checking my e-mails and such. I thought I would share with you some of the common meals my 2-year old ate for breakfast, lunch, after nap snacks, and dinner!

I hope some of these meals give you some new ideas for your little ones, too.

Breakfast - All of our breakfasts were accompanied by a fresh, canned or frozen fruit and 4oz whole milk.
Waffle with butter and syrup.
Pancakes with whipped cream.
Sausage patty or links. (I buy frozen)
Hash brown patties. (I put in the toaster)
Cereal.
Cereal bars.
Scrambled eggs with cheese.
Peanut butter, cream cheese or jelly on toast.
French toast sticks.
Pop tart or toaster strudels.
Yogurt.
Cottage cheese.

Morning snack - Usually, snacks were given with water.
Baby carrots with dip.
Clementine orange.
Goldfish crackers.
Yogurt covered raisins.


Lunch - All of our lunches were accompanied by 2 tablespoons fresh or frozen vegetables, carrot sticks or alternating fruit and 4 oz whole milk. Often, David and I ate leftovers from the previous nights dinner.
Grilled cheese.
Chicken strips. (I buy frozen)
Mac n' cheese.
French fries or tator tots.
Pasta salad.
Pizza.
Tacos.
Eggs.
Hamburger.
Spaghetti O's.
Grilled tortilla with cheese.
Chicken salad sandwich.

After-nap snack- Served with a juice box, V8 splash, chocolate milk or some other non-whole milk beverage, but never pop.
Gerber crunchies.
Pretzels and dip.
Cereal bar or granola bar.
Peanut butter on club crackers.
Cheese and tortilla roll up.
Graham crackers and yogurt.
Cookie.

Dinner - All of our dinners were served with 4 oz whole milk and fruit. We often had a dessert after dinner like ice cream sandwich, Popsicles or a sweet baked item.
Tacos.
Cheeseburger.
Spaghetti.
Pork chops with rice.
Ham and cheese panini.
Steak. (David's favorite!)
Chicken Strips.
Garlic Bread.
Beef brisket.
Pizza.
Fried chicken.
Chili.
Swiss steak with potatoes.
Grilled chicken.
Cheese burger pie.
Kabobs.
Fried rice.
Pan fried potatoes.

Common Fruits
Apple
Banana
Clementine orange
Fruit cocktail
Canned pears
Blueberries
Strawberries
Raspberries


Overall, it helps David is a very good eater and likes almost everything. He is not a big fan of over "slimy" foods or red meats that aren't steak. He is not a huge fan of bananas. Sometimes, David puts up a fight to eat supper but ate great breakfast and lunch. Other days, he might have tummy trouble and not want to eat as much.

In addition to what we eat for meals, Pete and I have always stressed rules for eating "like a nice boy" to keep meal time pleasant. I love sitting at the table with my kids to eat. We talk, share things about our day, and laugh a lot. Meal time is a great time to learn! Some of our rules for the table are: pray, sit at the table and eat, eat with a fork or spoon (when he learned, of course), ask to be excused, drink all your milk, "just try one bite", and always asking what he did that day.

I would love any additional ideas for meal planning for your little ones, toddler or pre-schooler!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Good Morning Crock Pot: Chicken Chili

There are few things making my life easier than having supper ready in the morning. My Mom has been telling me, all 4.5 years of my marriage, to plan ahead meals to save on the stress of "what's for dinner?". It sounds easy enough, but I go in phases where I am super cook one week and the next week we are having pizza every other night.

While crock pot meals can get old, trying something new in the crock pot is very exciting! I found a recipe for chicken chili via Photo a Day a few months ago. I found a bag of peppers: yellow, orange, and red for $.89 at Bob's and thought I could use them up for the recipe. I scooped them up and chose to do the chili today so I could use them before they went bad.

Here I am at 8:30 this morning, cooking crock pot chili, and the kids eating pancakes at the table:



Chicken Chili

2 Large Chicken Breasts
1 Red Pepper
1 Yellow Pepper
1 Orange Pepper
16 oz Tomato Sauce
1 Can Black Beans
1 Can Corn
1 Can Chili Tomatoes
1 Packet Taco Seasoning
1 Tbs. Chili Powder

Combine all ingredients in crock pot and place chicken on top. Cover and cook on high for 6 hours or low for 10 hours.

I tasted the sauce before placing the chicken in the crock pot and it was delicious. It has a little spice from the chili tomatoes. Some might want more, but I have the little ones and want to keep it mild. My husband can always add some red pepper flakes to pump up the heat.

I am serving my chicken chili with baked potatoes. I have seen a few good recipes for sides like: loaded baked potato rounds or oven roasted potatoes with bacon. I might try ones of those if I am feeling adventurous. Even some deep fried pickles sound good!

What's for supper tonight in your house?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

15 Favorite Activities for Mom and Her Little Boys

I love the routine of our little life together. My boys and I have the best time. I am so grateful to be able to spend all day with them. The little things become big things. Even though some of those little things can drive me crazy, I spend more time loving what we do together than being frustrated, overwhelmed, or bored (which might be the most common three negative feelings in my day).
 
 
Here is my list: some of my top 15 things to do with my little boys! While, I am sure you can do all of these things with little girls, I just happen to be the mom of two little boys.

1 // Breakfast in bed.
     After David was done nursing/taking a bottle, I was worried I would miss out on that mother-son bonding! Until James was born, David and I had breakfast in bed almost every morning. We were confined to the queen bed able to eat, read, talk, and enjoy each others company. We sang along to Sesame Street and learned to do a lot of things. I was always sad when he said, "All done!" and slid off the bed to go play with toys.

2 // Playdoh, coloring, or block stacking.
     Even "baby James" sits and scribbles when we lay on our stomachs on the living room floor to color. David is obsessed with letters and often draws the same letter over and over. Draw the letter "M". What sound does the letter "M" make? What word starts with the letter "M"?

3 // Cooking together.
   I was really looking forward to the time when David could eat eggs. They are such a great source of protein when the only "meat" he seemed to want to eat was chicken tenders. He spit out the eggs on the first few tries, sadly. One day, I sat David up on the counter and made a big fuss over making the eggs together: cracking the eggs, getting a whisk and letting him stir, letting him sneak cheese, ect. Now he LOVES eggs, and it was super cute the day David asked James how his eggs were, too!
    
4 // Co-naps.
    I think I love getting a little nap in with my kids so much because I never let them sleep with us as newborns or infants. Now that they are toddlers, I cannot wait to get them to hop in with me, read books together, and fall asleep. I actually have to set a limit to how often I do this as to not let them (or I!) get spoiled. I transport them into their own cribs after some time, but the time I do get with them is just delicious!

5 // Going to see the "pups" aka going to the pet store in the mall.
   Few things make me happier than seeing my boys' faces when I tell them we are going to see the "pups"! James squeals with delight now when we turn the corner to the pup store when he is in the stroller. We make a big deal out the trip by not only seeing all the animals at the pet store, but we ride the elevator at Herberger's a few times and get ice cream at the Dairy Queen.

6 // Going to see the "fountain" aka going to the outdoor shopping mall.
   You may have read about one of these outings, here. Sometimes, I (and we) cannot sit in the house all day. And with leaf eating James, I don't always feel like chasing him around the yard all afternoon picking sticks out of his mouth, either. So, I get my kids out and satisfy my own shopping urge by taking them to the outdoor shopping mall where, I can hit up my favorite (Gap) and the kids' favorite (the huge fountain). It is a win-win.

7 // Lunch at Noodles and Company.
    I am a super hard working and super spoiled mother. My kids are very good natured and I can take my kids anywhere. Yes, it can be painful to teach my kids to sit still in a high chair, not scream, and mind me when it is 2 kids against 1 hungry mom. It is so worth the disciplining when I can take my kids out to lunch, just the three of us, and we sit for 45 minutes over noodles, sippy cups, and diet coke. I swear, it is heaven on earth.

8 // Play dates.
   Nothing makes me prouder than seeing my kids interacting with other kids in a pleasantly-chaotic way. We so enjoy the change of scenery, new toys, new places, and a change of routine. While, the other side of me is silently freaking out they will act out, hit, or do something terrible, I have such an amazing and supportive group of super awesome moms, who constantly inspire me to be the best mom I can be, everyday. Here's one.

9 // Playing in the hose, snow, leaves, grass, rain.
    I cannot express how much my kids love to be outside. In addition to the fun we have, they eat better, sleep better, and are happier! I loved hanging out on my swing this Summer watching the kids, or burying James in the leaves in the back yard this Fall, and watching David put snow into his play garbage truck last week.

10 // Going for walks in the wagon.
    Even though we only walk to the park or do a little loop around our neighborhood, we love our walks in the wagon. We point out all the things we see, have Popsicles, and collect different leaves, rocks, or sticks. Then I pull all the crap we collected out of James' mouth.

11 // Playing at a outdoor park or indoor play land.
   James is just coming into the age where running around at a play land is the best thing on the planet. David is also getting more agile and adventurous, much to his moms panicing. It is a good learning experience for me to let go and let my kids have fun. However, I still see David as my baby and want him to be safe. I still like going out to our local outdoor parks the best:



12 // Having a "pizza party".
     Yes, I don't feel I am at the height of my super-awesome-momness when we have pizza for supper, but there is an element of excitement for dinner (probably coming from me) when we are having a treat. When David gets up from his nap on "pizza night" I always ask, "Guess what we are having for supper?!" David asks, "Piiiiizzzaaaa???!!!??" Don't worry, it is served with frozen peas!

13 // Making a tent.
     I could buy the most expensive, elaborate toy on the planet and my kids could play in tents all day with a stick and be perfectly happy. Tents are the epitome of happiness for kids. I still love being in a tent myself! Tents transform our ordinary living room into the most amazing play place, where David can use his imagination and James can knock it down over and over again.

14 // Reading books.
     I love reading books to my kids. It is the most precious, mind expanding time I could spend with my children. The entire experience: picking out the books, finding where we will read them, getting teddies/blankets/milk/ect. It is additionally wonderful because they have my complete attention, where other times in the day they may not. I like how the kids are drawn to certain books on certain days or certain books for certain times of the day. Book reading is especially awesome when we are reading in our tent, before bed, with the Playskool flash light!

15 // Family time with Daddy.
   There is nothing we could do in a day, that could ever compare the time we get (yes, including me) with the #1 favorite. Daddy. Nothing and no one is more precious to us, than him! Plus, daddy wrestles. Daddy burps. Daddy lets the kids say bad words and has mommy spend then next day helping them unlearn them. Daddy is fun and daddy loves them more than anything, too!

My 15 favorites on this list are not original, by any means, but they make up our days and fill our minds with lots of learning and fill our hearts with lots of love.

What are your favorite things to do with your kids?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Freeze Your Fanny Off

Since completing the half marathon last month, I have taken a 31 day hiatus. Yes, I have ran and walked a few times. However, I have not committed myself to the routine of last Summer.

My biggest excuses? It is too cold. It is too dark. I am too tired. I ate too much for dinner. It is too early. It is too late. In a few short weeks, if not a few short days, I will be saying: It is too icy. It is too snowy. I can't run in Minnesota Winter.

Where did the woman go who told herself: You can do it! You are strong! You are amazing! You can do anything!

Hibernation, maybe?

Enough already! Lace up the shoes, do whatever you have to do to get out there and go! It doesn't matter how slow or fast we go. We just need to go! I want to be able to tell myself this Spring, I don't have to start all over. I can stay conditioned. I can stay in shape. I can help myself be in the best mood I can be in, because I am doing something good for myself.

Let's be able to tell ourselves this Spring:


Like it, share it, Pin It!*


Remember too, to be safe with outdoor Winter exercising. Remember these tips if you are out walking or running in the dark:

  • Wear proper night gear like reflective clothing, reflective vests, headlamps or light clips.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. Assume motor vehicles cannot see you.
  • Check weather conditions before your run. Beware of snow, freezing rain and ice.
  • Tell someone your route and an approximate time you will finish.
  • Run with your cell phone.

Check into your local health clubs, gyms, and schools, as many cities have open gym one or more nights a week for a low fee. Consider saving your more intensive and longer workouts for an indoor treadmill. Also, think about having a back-up plan for times when your run is canceled due to weather conditions, like a workout DVD, weight lifting or allowing yourself a day-off with a warm bath!

We were lucky to have had a relatively mild Minnesota Winter last year. Good luck in the coming months!

* Minnesota Winter backgroud image via MN Praire Roots.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Thanksgiving Appetizers

I informed my Aunt this morning my little family would be joining them for Thanksgiving this year. I want to contribute something assuming the turkey is already covered! I mentioned bringing a dessert or appetizer to share.

Appetizer? I don't even think I have heard of a Thanksgiving appetizer. I guess I should have offered to bring a side dish? This "Thanksgiving appetizer" idea got me thinking. What kind of Thanksgiving appetizers are out there?

Here are a few I found:



Clockwise:
Turkey Cheese Ball via Taste of Home
Squash-Leaf Canapes via Martha Stewart
Bloomin' Onion Bread via The Girl Who Ate Everything
Cranberry Feta Pinwheels via Food.com

I think the Bloomin' Onion Bread could be a winner! What are your Thanksgiving day food traditions? Do you have appetizers at your holiday feast?

Thursday, November 8, 2012

This is Us, and We Have Names


Does this conversation sound familiar?
 
"How are you doing, Daddy?"
"Just fine, Mommy. How are you?"
"Great Daddy, but I think we are in need of a vacation."
"Why do you think we need a vacation, Mommy?"
"Stop calling me Mommy."
 
Hi, my name is MaryBeth. Sometimes, I forget I have a real name. I also forget I like my own things. In addition to the kids' favorite: chicken strips, macaroni and cheese, and Spaghetti O's, I really like shrimp.
 
I don't get to eat shrimp because I am usually sharing a plate with a toddler.
 
There are a million and one other things I could mention I enjoy having or doing - by myself. However, I chose to have children and share the rest of my life with them! While, having two built in sidekicks has made my life better than I ever imagined...
 
I miss shrimp. Sometimes, I need shrimp so bad I could scream.
 
Pete and I took our own mini-vacation a few weekends ago. We went to a wedding in Kansas City and decided last year, when we heard about the wedding, to take the opportunity to ditch the kids for the weekend. My parents took the kids for three days and nights. While I knew I would be missing my kids while we were away, at the time I was missing my husband more.
 
I think it took us a whole 24 hours to get rid of the baby talk. Ok, we aren't huge on baby talk but you get my drift. After a few days in another town, Pete and I started to feel more like husband and wife than mommy and daddy. I cannot express to you, how good it felt to be reminded how much I love my children's father.
 
 
MaryBeth.

Pete.

I think a lot of parents, including myself, can forget the relationship we have with our partner is as important, if not more important, than the relationship we have with our kids. As my mom told me once, "Your kids grow up and they leave you." While the statement might sound a little harsh, it is the truth! We are stuck with our partners forever! When our boys go off to get educated, start their own families, or do whatever they choose to do, Pete and I will be supporting at a sweet distance.

My husband will always be in the chair next to me. We will always have dinner together. We will always fall asleep in the same bed. We will always have each other. We have to continue to take the time, when we can, to remember our relationship is important.

Trust me, when the time comes where MaryBeth is spoken more times in a day than mommy, I will be eating a ton of shrimp, with Pete.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Scenic Byway Half Marathon: Part III, Post-Race Pain

Need to catch up? Read Part I and Read Part II.



I paced the race crowd, partially delirious, with big I-am-trying-to-hide-it-but-not-really sobs. I usually feel a little wobbly after races. I think the adrenaline I had been running on for 2 hours continued to pulse through me even though I had quit running. The "podst-run high" is an amazing, near euphoric feeling and I love it. I started to peel my way through the crowd a bit to head towards my family. They were about a half mile away from the finish, so I had to look for them a bit.

When I saw Pete, the overwhelming finisher feeling that was diminishing took over me again and I sobbed as he squeezed me. He was proud of me. I could tell in his face. Pete and I should have run a half marathon together. We both took a serious commitment to running this Summer. However, his aching hip flexor was not up to par in time for the race. I am sure part of him wished he could be there, too, but he never showed that feeling to me in any way, if he did. Proof again, I married the most awesome man on the planet.

I saw my Mom behind Pete pushing James in the stroller, smiling with the "I think you should sit down?" smile. Not because I looked terrible, but because my Mom has worried about me since I first started on my running adventure. It is too hot, it is too cold, it is too far, it is too fast, it is too dark, it is too sunny, it is too populated, it is too deserted... She (and my Dad, too) has reminded me, in the best way, to always be careful when I am running. To pay attention to everything going on around me and what is going on with my body because I could hurt myself! I still feel bad the few times this 95 degree Summer when she called me on the phone to see what was up. "Oh, I just got back from a run." I would say. I am pretty sure she got mad at me a few times. Proof again, my Mother worries the most about me because she loves me more than anything on the planet. I am the luckiest girl alive to belong to a Mom like mine.

My body was feeling great right after the race. I had to get my bearings straight to walk like a normal person after having running form for so long. Other than the normal little aches, I was appreciating the stillness and looking forward to something to eat. I think I started to get hungry around mile 6! My family and I hung out at the race site for a while, but I was starting to worry about the hour drive back home. I often feel pretty sick after long runs, and I wanted to get going to "pay for my run" in the peace of my own home.

I said goodbye to Pete as he drove our car home, and my Mom and I rode together with the kids. We chit-chatted about the race and other things, once we got within 10 minutes of home, I started to feel seriously ill. I dropped my Mom off at her house and called Pete to tell him I would need help getting the kids into the house. Pete was standing in the driveway as I pulled the car in and I am not even sure if I killed the engine I ran into our house so fast!

The next few hours was a torturous event of a typical runners tummy trouble. I couldn't even eat.  On top of feeling like I had the flu, I hadn't properly stretched after my run and the hour long car ride did a number on my recovering muscles. I ended up straining my groin (which I injured before the race but I made it considerably worse running 13 miles) which still bothers me, three weeks later. Later that night, I couldn't walk. I remember telling my Dad on the phone I wasn't sure if I was able to make it to church the next day.

I know now, for future races like this, to plan on taking the entire day to recover from a race. I felt pretty guilty leaving the kids to Pete all day with no warning. I had no choice. I couldn't do a single thing for myself! It was worse than coming home after having our children. I told myself that night, I will never need to run farther than 13.1 miles. I thought at the time, the recovery is just not worth it!

Funny thing is, by 6 or 7 o'clock, my tummy trouble was non-existent and I started to feel hungry. I hobbled around trying to help Pete as much as I could. I sat on an ice pack all night and ate like a pig. The next morning, with a still pretty sore groin, I felt nearly back to normal. I put on my Sunday best and went to church like any other day. Well, with a little limp.

I can't prove it, but have a feeling in my gut (literally!), Gatorade or similar sports drinks make me sick. I was having a rough few weeks this Summer of post-run tummy troubles and I cut out sports drinks after some Googling about it giving runners more trouble than help. When I was running through the mile 11 water stop, I knew I should not be taking the Gatorade. I was hitting such a huge wall, I hoped the sugar would help get me through the last 2 miles. I was desperate. I am sure my tummy issues were from running so far, but I have to think maybe the Gatorade had something to do with it, too.

I have said a million times in the last few months, if I knew last June my running was going to turn into such a huge obsession for 5 months, I would have taken better care of my body from the start. I would have stretched more, lifted some weights, eaten better, and drank even more water. If I had committed the extra effort to my overall fitness, I would have been in even better shape to handle a half marathon. I am sure some of the minor injuries I have had with increasing my miles in preparation for the race, would also be less. I have it my brain to achieve my fitness goals, but I need to remember my body needs training to uphold them.

Ok, if you are still reading, let's break down the race:

Time: 2:05:45
Pace: 9:36 per mile
Place: 95 out of 177

My RunKeeper app quit at 12.25 miles (or two hours), so it adjusted the last mile. The app keeps pretty awesome track of splits. I remember looking down at my watch and seeing many miles finishing around 9:18. My best mile was mile two and I remember trying to get through the muck of runners, so I wasn't running directly next to, behind, or in front of another runner.


Even though I exprienced an adequate amount of post-race pain, I will definitely run another half marathon, someday. I feel my running goals, for the present, have been fulfilled and I am happy to take a month or two break from my usual routine. I still stand by the fact: I am a better, healthier, happier person when I am running. The last few months have been such an amazing and life changing journey! Thank you for reading!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Making Everyday, The Best Day

As we all know, staying home with the kids or raising children in general, is not short of challenges. I am thankful to have two beautiful boys who are innately good and healthy kids. I was sharing some daily challenges with Pete last night regarding David. We have been battling the "terrible two's, but it is hard to describe David as terrible because his "terrible" really isn't so terrible at all.

However, you throw a 12 hour day on top of a little bit of terrible, and a little misbehavior turns out to be a lot more disagreeable than it really is. I have to be constantly checking and reminding myself to continue to have high standards of behavior for David (and James, too), but I also need to remember: he is only 2.

Yesterday, I chose to reprimand more than I chose to reward. I don't like that side of being a mom, but I know discipline has to happen if I want good kids. While it is necessary, disciplining is exhausting. Being a parent is exhausting! While I might want to let the kids get away with unacceptable behavior in attempt to get away from the parenting part, I just keep telling myself that I am making them better, more responsible kids in the end.

So, after having kind of a rough day yesterday, I decided the moment I woke up today to try to improve our day anyway we could. Does that mean I need to be extravagant? No way! Does that mean I need to spoil or let the kids misbehave? Definitely not. I just tried to make our day the best day by just paying more attention to my kids, and rewarding them with positive attention when they did something good.

Good meaning: being kind to each other, playing nice independently, playing nice together, helping mom, helping each other, helping without being asked, listening to mom, eating well, and any other pleasant behaviors I could give positive reinforcements for .

D & J sitting nice by each other, D pushing his own cart, detouring at the craft store to play with letters.

Our day started out as usual, I heard both kids playing and talking in their cribs and got up to get morning snacks ready before hopping them out of bed. I sat on the couch with David and had my coffee instead of drinking it in my chair. I decided getting out of the house for a few hours would be better than stewing at home for the day.

I think if the kids get the feeling they are doing what they want to be doing, they are more well behaved. I tried to approach the day like even though we had to go to the grocery store, it really is time we are spending together learning and having fun. Instead of dragging along the kids while getting a few grocery items, David pushed his own little cart and we picked out what we needed for supper together.

At the craft store, we hung out in the wooden letters aisle for a solid 10 minutes. I swear David picked up every letter. "M. M is for mouse. M sounds like mmmmm."

The boys and I stopped at a little restaurant and shared lunch. David oddly wanted black beans and salad, so we got it and he ate the whole thing. James kicked his legs in the high chair the whole time, shoving chicken and black beans in his mouth like it was the best thing he had ever eaten. The diaper following that meal was an experience to say the least...

We enjoyed each others company, got done what needed to be done, and treated the day like an adventure. With all this "excitement" there was a lot less complaining and misbehaving. Even James was in a great mood. Both kids fell asleep in the car on the way home. I tucked them in their cribs when we got home and enjoyed the sweet silence of sleeping children. A silence I deserved, for it was great day.

Need a little "best day" inspiration for your home? Check out the Best Day Ever Prints from Erin Jane Shop on Etsy!

Photo Credit // Erin Jane Shop



Monday, October 29, 2012

The Scenic Byway Half Marathon: Part II, Thirteen Point Freekin' One

Need to catch up? Read Part I.

Race day was a drizzly cold. It was the kind of rain, that when landing in your eyeball, kind of blurred your vision. It felt like I needed windshield wipers for my eyes. It was chilly outside, but I was comfortable in my cold weather running garb and figured I could peel off layers during the race, if I needed to.

I positioned myself near the 2:10 pacer and planned on starting fast enough to keep her behind me the whole race. Without Pete with me, I wanted to have something or someone there to inspire me to keep pushing if I my pace started to lag. I figured the 2:10 balloon was inspiration enough.

I run with the Runkeeper app on my phone to track my runs. I also wore a watch this race. I usually don't keep track of my pace, but I thought watching my time as I hit each mile marker would give me a good distraction and incentive to keep the first 8 or so miles at a good pace.

Again, my "good pace" is relative to me. My last few weeks of running I had pushed through the 9 minute barrier and was running at 8:50 per mile. My goal for the start of the race was to keep my
miles as close to 9 minutes as I could. I hoped, if I needed to or was forced to slow down the last few miles, I could still achieve a good race time overall.

At the start, I chatted with a fellow runner as I turned on my GPS, Runkeeper and iheart Radio app. I jogged in place and watched all the runners around me doing the same nervous, jittering, pre-race dance. There was a fog above the runners from all the hot breath in the cool air. There was quite a nice crowd around us. Lots of kids bundled up in their strollers, or sitting on their Dad's shoulders. At least, those were the race watchers I noticed.

When I heard the gun, I started to feel the masses moving around me and hear the scraping of their feet on the wet pavement. A smile crossed my face and I didn't feel it pass till mile two. I felt like happy-crying. I was so nervous and excited. I kept thinking to myself, I was finally doing it. I knew I could do it!

Start of the Scenic Byway Half Marathon via the Belle Plaine Herald.

The first mile was through the town of Belle Plaine. There was large decline at the end of mile 1, and then large bridge into mile 2 over the Minnesota River. I stared out over the water and saw the brown beach, grass, and wooded areas. I thought of my Dad. He was hunting that day.

As we inclined onto the scenic byway, I started to envision the course map. I had spent a few weeks here and there visiting the map online. At the time, I thought about how I might be feeling or what I would be seeing when I was actually racing. I felt a sort of odd relationship with where I was running, even though I had never been there before.





As I turned onto the Scenic Byway, I ran through a little construction and then found a nice easy mile 3 and 4. The road had a nice roll to it. Soon, into the not-so-far distance I started to see the first of what would be, several large hills. They made me a little nervous, but I kept Pete in my head. During our ten mile race he mentioned he needed to keep his pace up on the hills, as to not get winded. This really seemed to make no sense to me. Why would I want to go faster on the hills? Won't I get too tired?

I have been incredibly fearful of walking during my runs. I worry I won't be able start up again. I feel I am giving up. I would rather slow my pace down and not actually walk, than to run at a faster pace and have to walk. So, on the quite intense hills, seeming to stretch a few minutes of running, I pushed myself hard. I kept telling myself as soon as the hill was over, I would jog off the pain. As I ran up the hills, my body felt like it was running at a 45 degree angle. I pumped my arms, I breathed hard out of my mouth and push my legs with what felt like everything I had. As the incline subsided, I ran through the pain and imagined myself running down hill. Through all the hills in mile 2-8, I never had to stop.

Mile 7's hill was a BEAST. There was another female runner about my age that was ahead of me the first 6 miles. I tried to catch up to her but was having a tough time. I passed her on the top of the mile 7 hill when she walked it out. I never saw her again. There was a nice decline for the next mile or so and a volunteer told me there was a water stop at the bottom of the hill. I ran for that water stop like a bat out of hell. However, even with my even pace, the 2 hour balloon passed me.

I struggled for a half of a mile or so with the passing of the balloon. I wanted to catch up to the pacer, but I was enjoying my run. I wanted to keep the enjoyment of the run more than finishing in 2 hours. I let the pacer and her yellow balloon go and kept her in my sights until mile 11.

I started to feel my toes numbing a bit at this point in the race and I was feeling a slight ache in my left ankle. A pain I had never experienced before on any of my other runs. I stopped to re-lace my shoes, stretch my hamstrings and hips at the water stop. When I stopped, I actually felt my legs shake and the sweat start to pour out of my face as I tied my shoes. Worried my body might give out, I quickly kept running through to mile 9.

I was definitely tired by mile 10, but I was so excited to pass the mile marker knowing I still had some fight in me. I often have, what I call, a "crumbling" feeling in my legs when I get through the last mile or two of my long runs. It feels like my legs have no support in the knees and I could just crumble at any point. I did not feel this at mile 10. I was very optimistic at this point in the race.

That feeling was short lived. Mentally, mile 11 was very difficult. The pain in my ankle and numb feet were very, very distracting. I stopped to walk for 5 steps three separate times in these two miles. It killed me to stop and walk, but mentally I was starting to give up a bit. I knew there was a huge hill at mile 12, so I drank Gatorade at the mile 11 water stop in hopes to get my second wind.

I knew Pete, my babies, and my Mother were at the race. At every sight of race spectators I hoped to see their sweet faces. I needed to see them. I needed a push. I needed something to help get through the pain. It did not help 3 people passed me in mile 11. I still remember each one who did. I kept telling myself how far I had come already. There was so little of the race left! I tried to picture leaving my house on my short runs. The rest of the race was shorter then the "little loop" (3.3 miles) Pete and I frequent.

Then I saw it. THE HILL. I seriously considered just walking up it. Could I really run up the hill and still finish the race? As the hill started I took out my headphones. This hill needed my full attention. As I pushed though the pain, I tried be positive by yelling to the spectators and race volunteers, "how mean to make a course with such an awful hill at the end!". I could barely talk, and I am sure I sounded like a babbling, red-faced, idiot. As the hill came to it's peak, I hoped not to see my family. I am sure they would have worried!

I walked another 5 steps at the top of the hill and turned to look behind me for the first time all race. There it was: another yellow balloon. Oh, hell no. I did not just run up that hill to get passed by the 2:10 balloon. No way. The pain in my ankle now turned my run into what felt like limping. I kept going.

After a minute or so of "don't-let-the-balloon-get-me-how-much-longer-is-this-insert-swear-word-here", I saw them! I saw my husband, children, and mother. Oh, how I needed to see them, too.

 
I babbled again to Pete about how the balloon was behind me. I am sure he had no idea what I was talking about. I waved to my kids and said, "Hi, mommy!" to my mom.
 
I ran pass a group of spectators who were cheering, "You are almost there! Just around the corner!" I turned for a block or two and then saw the red "finish" just a few short blocks away. I started to feel the swell in my heart. I was going to finish the race. I was going to finish the race!! I can't remember if I saw a 13 mile marker, but I sure looked for one. So many people were cheering and telling me great job. I just kept saying "thank you" over and over again, like a beauty queen or something.
 
I ran through the finish. My chip was ripped off my shoe and a medal was placed over my neck...
 
and I cried, like a little baby.

Read Part III.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Honey Garlic Crockpot Chicken


Crockpot chicken is one of my favorite meals to make lately. The crockpot really comes in handy for my family and I. Pete most often gets home at 7 with the kids hungry at 6 and I like to eat dinner when I get home from my run. The crockpot is an easy way to feed the whole family and only have to cook once! Also, there is usually enough leftovers to put a spin on for the next night, too!

I have been getting tired of the usual beef roasts and have ventured to chicken in the crockpot recipes. Here is my latest find via Living Rich with Coupons:

Honey Garlic Crockpot Chicken

2 lbs Boneless Chicken Breasts Frozen (approx 4)
3 Garlic Cloves - Chopped (I used 1.5 T minced garlic)
1/2 Cup Soy Sauce
1/2 Cup Ketchup
1/3 Cup Honey
1 tsp dried basil or fresh basil

Combine ingredients and pour over chicken breasts in crockpot. Cook on high for 4 hours.

These chicken breasts are the perfect combination of sweet and salty. After the chicken was done (I was sure the temperature of the chicken was 160 or higher. Mine were at 180 after 4 hours.), I removed them from the crockpot with tongs, sliced them with an electric knife, and topped them with shredded cheese and leftover bacon. I then broiled them on high in the oven for a few minutes till the cheese was melted and bacon was sizzling.

Honey Garlic Crockpot Chicken


I removed the chicken from the hot pan with a spatula and served them with warm mashed potatoes and cold sour cream. A delicious, delicious supper.

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Scenic Byway Half Marathon: Part I, Pre-Race

If you have been following my current obsession with running, you know the completion of a 10-mile race in September marked a huge milestone in my life. I set a goal for myself and I achieved that goal!

Well, then I just got greedy.

What else could I do? How far should I go? Is there more my body can handle? Pete is nursing a hip flexor issue and we talked about running a half marathon together. However, it is no secret we are hoping for baby #3 in coming months, and how much longer did I have to race in a half marathon?

I decided, with Pete's consent, to run a half marathon on my own. I was feeling pretty tired the last few miles of the 10-mile race and wasn't completely sure I could handle another 3 miles added on to the next race. When I completed 80 miles in the month of September, I knew I could do it! I signed up for the Scenic Byway Half Marathon in Belle Plaine, MN on October 13.

My body was hurting after uping my weekly miles in September. I started having knee issues and feeling a little "burnt out". I had my doubts about finishing the half marathon injury free so I started to taper my runs 2 weeks before the race. What does that mean?

If you follow my activities on RunKeeper, I was running 4-5 times per week in September. My distances ranged from 3-10 miles. In October, I cut the miles down to 12 miles per week and didn't complete any runs longer than 8 miles. Part of me felt guilty cutting runs out, but I knew I had to be healed up for the race!

A week out from the race I started to panic a little about not having completed a 10+ mile run in a month. I thought I was such an idiot for just deciding to run such a long way, when I had never run that far before. I started to get nervous I wouldn't be able to complete the race all together. What if my body gave out? What if I fell, threw-up, got dehydrated? What if I made my family worry about me? What if, what if, what if...

My stomach was in knots for days. I didn't even want to talk about the impending race day. The night before the race, my little family had spaghetti dinner together. I swear, I had to force myself to eat. I had planned to go for a short 2 mile run the night before, just to stay loose, but I was still too nervous to go! I couldn't sit still. For hours I picked up the house, did laundry,  packed the kids for the next day for Pete, showered, picked out my running gear. I tried to get in the mood, but I was feeling like I was making a huge mistake.

Thankfully, I woke up the next morning at 6 a.m. feeling FANTASTIC. I was so excited to get to Belle Plaine! My heart and soul went into running mode. I started envisioning how thrilling it would be to cross the finish line. I fantasized about the sights I would see, the music I would listen to, my fellow runners, seeing Pete and my babies at the finish, and receiving my first medal. I started to be positive about my first half marathon.

After waking, I dressed, ate peanut butter toast and had coffee. It would take me an hour to get to the race site so I knew I could drink some coffee and wash it down on the way to the race with plenty of water. I put make-up on to make myself feel good.

Race morning vanity.
I expected race morning to be raining and about 50 degrees, so I dressed warm in running leggings, running shorts, and a long sleeve tee. I also wore my Asics, a headband to keep my ears warm, my armband to hold my phone, and head phones. I run to music via the iheart app and I chose the Coldplay station. It was a good upbeat music mix on previous runs.

The drive to the race was a little nerve racking. I honestly thought I was going to puke. So, many thoughts were going through my head and I feel with my stomach! I stopped at the Belle Plaine gas station to use the bathroom, not sure what the race site would have for restrooms. It was pretty cold and drizzly out and I feared I may have gotten to the race a little too early. I didn't want to stand in the cold for an hour and get soaked!

I found a place to park and headed to pick-up my race packet. I wished Pete was there. It is so much more fun to have him there with me. I scoped out the site and used the bathroom, again. I headed back to my car to put my bib on and leave my backpack. I sat in the car and listened to talk radio for about 20 minutes before heading to back to the race site.

I used the bathroom AGAIN, just in case! Seriously, it was going to be 2 hours before I would get to use one again so I had to be sure. I waited around before heading to the start line. I stretched and walked around briskly to get my legs warmed up. When the announcer gave the runners a 5 minute warning, I headed to the start line.

Before heading to the start.

A nice woman was standing next to me at the start. We small talked about how cold it was and hoped we dressed right. We talked about our race goals and our experiences with running thus far. She was hoping to finish the race in 2 hours and within the last year or two had lost 50 pounds. I didn't see her again after we started, but I know she finished before me! I hope she finished far enough ahead of me to complete her goal.

I went into my first 13.1 mile race hoping to finish in 2:10 or better. If I finished at 2 hours I would be pleasantly surprised, if I finished after 2:10 I wasn't going to beat myself up over it. I saw other runners and their families. I saw kids with signs waving to their Mom. I really felt like I was a part of something really amazing. The runners around me were not trying to win the race, but be winners for themselves. It is such an inspiring and scary moment to know we were all about to embark on a huge achievement and a huge test of endurance. I waited and waited and waited to hear the shot fired that would start it all...

Read Part II.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Free 4x6 'Thank You' Halloween Party Printable

As you can tell, I love playing around with small design projects, like my website and and other graphic projects for my home and parties I throw.

In a previous post, I shared a treat bag tutorial for James' Halloween themed 1st Birthday party. I thought I would share the coordinating 4x6 printable "Thank You" print. These prints, when printed in original size, will fit a 4x6 frame. I am setting the frame next to our bowl of treat bags!

For personal use only.
Please credit me if re-blogging or sharing!
Thank you.
Scroll to the end of this post for more color options!

I have been using an outdated Photoshop 7, but it has worked for every design and photo project for someone of my design caliber. The program is familiar and I can whip out designs pretty fast and save my templates in PDF form for future uses.



I am going to use the same template for our photo frames on the "Boo-tiful Burger Bar" and beverage table, as well! See here how I am using orange Ikea frames to make my thank you printable really stand out:


 


In addition to the light orange option, here are three more color options for my "Thank You" Halloween party printable in dark orange, lime, and red:



Again, please credit Occupation Housewife or OccupationHousewife.com if you choose to use, blog or post these free printables!

Credits and resources for my "Thank You" Halloween Party Printable:
Halloween Icons
Biker Bones Font
Chevron Background (Originally from TinySea.net)

Let me know if you decided to use the print in your parties! I would love to see how you used them.
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