Meet the Deklan Bump!

I left out the most important part of our Lubbock adventures because it deserved a post all of its own. And no, the title of this post has nothing to do with a Gretchen baby bump. No, no, no – not yet! It does have everything to do with the little miracle that is my April due nephew, Deklan Robert!deklan 1

I don’t say little miracle lightly. Deklan is truly a dreamed of, prayed for and very much awaited baby. You see, when my brother and sister-in-law had their first child, Karrington, in 2010, my sister-in-law, Tasha suffered from congestive heart failure. 

Just 4 days after Karrington’s birth, Tasha returned to the hospital with shortness of breath. They checked for blood clots, but found heart issues instead. Tasha was initially diagnosed with postpartum cardiomyopathy. For a long time doctors and specialists weren’t quite sure what caused the weakening of Tasha’s heart muscles. Was it pregnancy? Something else? Something that would get worse? Better? Since there were so many unknowns Anton and Tasha were advised to avoid a second pregnancy at all costs – it could be much too dangerous for Tasha and another baby.

Tasha has seen a cardiologist for frequent and multiple check ups to work towards restoring function to her heart and outside of two leaky valves, Tasha’s heart has fully healed – praise the Lord! Throughout all of this, Anton and Tasha still wanted to grow their family. They researched and pursued adoption and continued to ask questions about the possibility of future pregnancies. These questions led Tasha to seek a second opinion.

After reviewing her charts, Tasha’s second cardiologist immediately acknowledged that she was much too young to be in his office and quickly found an explanation for her leaky valves. In the end, he believed pregnancy was not the cause of the heart issue; rather, pregnancy exposed the issue. Since he concluded pregnancy was not the cause, he felt Tasha could partner with a high risk obstetrician have another baby without complication. 

There was only a 20% chance of recurrence, so, not completely avoidable, but “80% is pretty good odds” in the words of Tasha’s obstetrician. Anton and Tasha prayerfully considered a second pregnancy and felt the Lord’s blessing in moving forward. In August 2014, Tasha saw those pretty little lines on a pregnancy test and in December it was announced that Karrington would be a big sister to a little brother! 

Do you see God’s amazing work? From a life changing diagnosis to slow and steady healing to a fulfilled dream and now a healthy pregnancy? It’s a miracle for sure and Deklan is sure to carry on his family’s legacy of hope and perseverance. deklan 3 deklan 7deklan 9 deklan 8

I can hardly put into words how heart wrenching and beautiful it has been to see our family go through this pain and suffering of the unknown. There have been tears and frustration, endless prayers and lots of wondering when and how and if another baby would join their amazing family. Anton and Tasha (and even Karrington’s) faithfulness is a testimony to their love for Jesus. He truly has great plans for us and they have believed that for their family every step of the way. Often it’s a longer journey than we expect, but regardless of the path, He is by our side, guiding our steps and encouraging us to trust in His plans. The ones we can’t see, the ones that are always the best. That’s what makes it so difficult – the unknown. It’s also what makes it so rewarding when God’s plans are unveiled. 

Deklan’s story is a praiseworthy one and I’m so thankful Anton and Tasha allowed me to share it with you. Tasha’s condition is rare so I’m guessing not many of you have experienced something similar, but what I do know is that we’ve all experienced crushing news in our lives. Things that aren’t what we had hoped, things that seemingly change the trajectory of our family. Remember, there is hope and redemption. There is peace to be found wherever you are in the unknown. Look for those little nuggets of Jesus’ comfort. Give Him control and trust that, as His child, He loves you beyond measure and has perfect plans in place for you. 

It was such a honor to partner with Lily Jade to surprise Tasha with a gorgeous and hip diaper bag as a hearty congratulations on her much anticipated pregnancy. Time and time again I’ve seen Lily Jade celebrate motherhood and the miracle of birth – they are a company with a heart of gold and blessing Tasha with a Lily Jade bag of her own seemed like a match made in heaven! deklan 5

Thank you Lily Jade – for your generosity, your always awesome sales, and for believing in miracles alongside my family.

Stay tuned for Deklan’s debut in early April!


A Whole 30 Story

It’s March 1st, well, the eve of March 1st, so I’m guessing a handful of you kicked off Whole 30 today? Am I right?

I’ll confess. I’ve been there and done that – the excitement and meal prep and all the good intentions because I truly believe Whole 30 is awesome. Sadly, I fell off that bandwagon and still haven’t worked up the courage to tell that story, but the good news is, my Whole 30 better half … the bestie Leah, is a Whole 30 champ and she’s got quite the encouraging story to share with you all!


A WHOLE 30 STORY

Hello.  My name is Leah and I’m an addict.  

A food addict.  

A sugar addict.  

A diet addict.  Funny…but not really.

WHOLE 30: Why I decided to try it

I’ve done every diet known to humankind. I’m that girl.  That “No thanks…I’m not eating carbs and fruit after 7pm” girl.  That “time for my 6th mini-meal of the day” girl.  That “Oh look, she’s on ANOTHER diet.  (eye-roll)” girl.  To put a positive spin on my weight struggles I’m REALLY good at losing weight.  Like, amazing!  I’ve done it.  A. LOT.  I don’t know if I yoyo so much as I bungee jump.  I’ve lost 30-50 pounds numerous times. Sadly I tend to let my diet end and slowly but surely the pounds creep up.  (And my scale is not broken, like I’ve tried to convince myself as much as it is just very accurate.)

All this to say, when Gretchen suggested we try the WHOLE30 I was quick to hop on that bandwagon. 

*It should be said that Gretchen did/does not need/want to lose weight.  She wanted to do this to be healthier, happier, and set a good example for her family bla, bla, bla.  Me?  I wanted to lose weight.  That is all.

WHOLE 30: How I got started

I obviously went straight out and bought the book (in HARDBACK…hella $$! But that was all they had). I own a lot of diet books and this is how I read them: 

STEP 1: Admire cover.  

STEP 2: Think to self, “self.  This is it!  This the ONE that will change your life and make you into the long-legged, bikini model you are in your heart.”

STEP 3: Flip to the LIST: IE: the foods you can and cannot eat while on said diet (aka: the foods I will binge on for the next couple of days until I start just to get my last fill of them. EVER).

STEP 4: Look at the center insert color pages of pretty pictures and food/meals that I will be enjoying.

STEP 5: Done and Done.

This time, oddly enough…I decided to start at the very beginning (a very good place to start, I’ve heard).

In addition to the RULES there was the REASONS and the “what to expects” along with the science behind it all.  I found all of the information kind of exciting.  Knowing ahead of time that on Day 4 I would want to KILL ALL THINGS thanks to my sugar dragon not being fed was oddly comforting.  Knowing that refined carbs promote inflammation and other foods can cause a “leaky gut” made me understand why they were a NO NO.  

WHOLE 30:  What do you eat?  

Well, lots and lots actually. Meat/Eggs/Protein, healthy fats, a little fruit, and veggies.  LOTS OF VEGGIES.

*No Dairy *No sugar (or ANY Sweeteners) *No Grains *No Legumes *No Soy *No ALCOHOL

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WHOLE 30: How it went down

To make a 30 day story a little shorter, some really awesome and surprising stuff happened.  

Here’s a list (because that’s how I roll).

  • I kicked sugar in the Ars!  Most diets have you limit your sugar intake (obviously).  However, WHOLE 30 does not allow ANY sugar in ANYTHING (and it’s in EVERYTHING, by the way).  In addition, no artificial sweeteners.  This pissed me off a lot at first.  “Why the heck can’t I have a little stevia in my coffee for the love of Jason Derulo?”  But when I read that your body processes sugar AND artificial sweeteners (calories or not) exactly the same and it just feeds that sugar craving, I got on board.  And I’m so glad I did.  It turns out I’ve never been truly off sugar and it’s a pretty good place to be.
  • My skin looks kinda glowy.  I’m one of those lucky people who is getting my first signs of fine lines while I still have the privilege of enjoying breakouts like a 14 year old boy.  Within a week my skin totally cleared up.  My face just looks healthy and even a little glowing (if I do say so myself).
  • I got excited about cooking. Once I got over the initial shock (and anger) that sugar, grains, soy and diary are in every flipping prepared item you can buy,  I started to enjoy meal planning and making yummy food out of real, whole, good for me foods.
  • My family got on board.  I purposely didn’t try to transform my husband and son’s diets.  I figured it would be hard enough for me to get through these 30 days on my own without having to hear complaints about no cheese and too much broccoli.  But after a week or so of making really pretty and healthy meals for myself and plopping oven pizza down on a plate for the men in my life they began to get a little jealous.  I believe the exact quote from my husband was, “You know, you’re kind of hoarding all the healthy food.  We all need to eat healthier.” And thus began the transition of my family to eating whole, nutritious, balanced meals.  It was something I didn’t see coming.  Not at all. 
  • I slept like a log.  I’ve always been a pretty good sleeper.  I’m thankful for that.  But I often stay up too late for the trade-off of watching Grey’s Anatomy, Nashville, Celebrity Apprentice and Real World (yes.  I am an exceptionally deep person when it comes to TV.  I know).  I found myself itching to go to bed at a more reasonable hour because I directly felt the positive effects of a good night sleep the next day.  
  • I lost things. Inches from all over my body (I measured EVERYTHING.  Even lost an inch from my neck, people!).  And pounds (nine to be exact).  All this was done while eating a lot and I was never hungry.  

*NOTICE how my main reason for starting WHOLE 30 (losing weight) was at the bottom of my list of awesome things?  I’m very happy that I’m a slimmer version of myself and hope to continue to slowly lose weight and inches as I continue a mostly WHOLE 30 lifestyle…but it was just a small part of why this way of eating….this way of life really changed me.

I feel a little inept giving any sort of advice on weight loss/whole 30/healthy living.  I do think, however, that there are a lot of people out there like me: a life-long dieter, weight loser/gainer.  I’m sitting here at my computer with a desk full of Valentine’s candy (good stuff…like Russell Stover and Ghirardelli) and I haven’t had one bite…and it’s not really due to self-control.  The stuff isn’t even calling my name.  

This is new. And weird. And crazy. And wonderful.  


Howdy Lubbock, Texas!

Home, home, we are finally home! After spending almost all of February in Texas we’re back in green country – AKA, the Northwest – and so happy to have such a swell trip under our belts. The kids are smitten with the toys they missed and are loving bedtime more than ever because hella yes we’re sleeping in our own favorite beds once again!  

Jemma and Max did bomb on the plane to Lubbock. Like, ten times better than I ever thought they would. That even included a layover in Vegas where Max chose not to change out of his one piece pajamas and stay buckled in his car seat … crazy boy. By God’s grace the gate we got off of for our layover was the same gate we needed to enter for our final leg. That meant Dominic didn’t get to carry 2 Dionos across the airport – yippee!

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This was the best airplane activity – Jem’s pen pal via my mama blogger friend sent it to her as a travel surprise :)

And yes, before you jump in with “you know you can check your car seats” I’ll just say, why yes you can, but did you also know that after car seats get tossed around like luggage they’re considered to be unsafe – just like they’ve been in a car accident and thus needing to be replaced? Also, although the airlines don’t require kids to be in car seats, I think that is quite dumb because if kids need to be in car seats in a car – a plane, going a billion times faster with the likelihood of turbulence – seems like a good place to be in a car seat too. And finally, my kids, and I’m guessing yours, know how to act in their car seat. It’s familiar, sleep inducing and just the perfect height for that little airplane table. So, yes, we hauled 2 heavy car seats to and fro and are happy we did. 

And that little rant leads us to our Lubbock adventures. Or, more appropriately, our Lubbock eats. The line up of favorites include … 

  • Blue Sky – real fine burgers and the best tots
  • Rosa’s Cafe – the freshest, yummiest tortillas
  • Chick-fil-A – I’m all about that Asian salad and waffle fries with THE SAUCE
  • Rudy’s – baked potato with pulled pork … delish!
  • Spanky’s – oh my word, fried cheese and monte cristo sandwiches
  • Chuy’s – happy hour margaritas, free nacho bar every day from 4-7 or something like that and this dessert called Tres LechesIMG_5114 IMG_5117IMG_5247

Jemma and her cousin, Karrington, shared an air mattress in the master closet for the week. They thought it was super fabulous and after the first night of “you’re going to be separated if you don’t stop talking”, they slept like little angels. Well, all except for the night when Jemma started snoring which woke Karrington who started crying because of the “weird sounds” Jemma was making :) Let’s just say Jemma sleeps hard and heavy after a string of busy days.

Whilst the children slept, the adults indulged in my new addiction. I really <3 board games. IMG_5138

Oh, and in prep for the Austin 5K I had both my best and worst runs ever. Best being a night run in the crisp, Texas air and worst being a morning run in the windiest wind ever. I swear it didn’t even feel like I was moving the wind was kicking back so hard. Talk about resistance training.

If you ever find yourselves in Lubbock swing by the Museum at Texas Tech University. Jemma and I had a girl’s date there and treated it like a mini homeschool field trip. It was full of learning opportunities – our favorite being the huge mammoth and the world map where we got to pin or dream destinations … hers beings the south of Argentina and mine being Prague :) IMG_5231IMG_5232lubbock museum

Jem took a whirl at kindergarten one day and amidst all the famous Texas food we took a little drive through the harvested cotton fields and oil drilling sites. Really truly, cotton and oil are such interesting commodities and Texas sure has a handle on them. cottonDSC_0203

That was Lubbock! From here Dominic flew home for work and my sister drove 6 hours one morning to load us up and turn around and drive us 6 hours back to Fort Hood for a week of adventures with her! Stay tuned for those photos and favorite recommendations … I promise, there is a lot more than just food in the Fort Hood to Austin area! 

And seriously, why attempt a smile when you can capture and store these gems for a lifetime?

 

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Style File /// Will Travel

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Nova Jacket, c/o prAna /// jeans, Gap /// scarf, Old Navy /// purse, Steve Madden from Ross /// sandals, Birkenstock Gizeh style from Nordstrom (be sure to use eBates to earn a % back at Nordstrom and all your online shopping!)

Our Texas trip debuted temperatures ranging from 34 to 80+. Just today my sister texted me that the Fort closed due to freezing rain! Barely missed that weather gem! Fluctuating weather made packing … interesting. I had really hoped to simplify my packing, and did the best I could in light of the chill and sunshine.

The golden token for surviving the weather range was layering. Layering and pieces equip for wild wind, cold fronts and cool evenings. The Nova Jacket from prAna fit the bill and it even passes both their rain test making this the perfect jacket for my homeland too! It ran true to size  and as you can see has a nice, long silhouette. Ever since becoming a runner (haha!) I’m drawn to neon colors so I love the zipper pop! All in all, love prAna (as always) and love the Nova Jacket.

These photos are just a super mini, ultra tiny glimpse of our trip — a visit to the Horse Detachment Unit at Fort Hood. I’m currently flagging and editing 4,000 others to bore you with later this week.  Bare with me and I’ll eventually share something you’ll be more entertained by :)


A big thank you to prAna for sending me the Nova Jacket for our Texas trip!

 


Just Between Friends … Let’s Shop Til We Drop!

It’s that time of year — Just Between Friends is right around the corner! Consignment sales are my twice a year win when it comes to stocking up on kid’s clothes for the next season. Designer deals at budget prices … can I get an “amen”?

Truly, I’ve loved Just Between Friends for years. Ever since I was pregnant with Jemma … evidenced by this lovely flashback from 2010 :)

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Over the years I’ve gathered quality equipment and furniture – think swings, riding toys, dollhouses, bassinets, high chairs – all at a fraction of the price. Clothing, of course, from brands like Gymboree, Crazy 8, Tea Collection, Green Dog, and Target. And my favorite finds …. cloth diapers, babywearing carriers and barely worn maternity clothes. Last Fall I did almost all of my Christmas shopping at JBF and this Spring I’m on the hunt for some great outdoor toys and summer clothes for our trip to Yellowstone!

Local ladies, join me at Just Between Friends at one of these shopping dates/times …

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Thursday, March 19th

  • 4:00pm-9:00 PRIME TIME SHOPPING ($10 Fee online or $15 at the door) (purchase online here)
  • 5:00pm-9:00pm  First Time Parents, Foster Parents & Military Families, and Teachers (register here)

Friday, March 20th – $2 ADMISSION

  • 9:00am-7:00pm  Public Sale

Saturday, March 21st – $1 ADMISSION

  • 9:00am-5:00pm  Public Sale (New items will have arrived overnight!!!)

Sunday, March 22nd – FREE ADMISSION

  • 9:00am-2:00pm  50% Off Public Sale

This sale as at a new location. Remember where Old Navy was before it moved to the mall? JBF will be in that same parking lot!

Cooper Point Marketplace – 1200 Cooper Point Rd. SW, Olympia, WA 98502

Like JBF Olympia on Facebook to stay updated about the event and participate in giveaways. And definitely fill out this short form to request free admission passes for your child’s preschool, daycare, church nursery or other organization. Spreading the JBF love is part of the shopping fun!

Not local to me, find a Just Between Friends sale near you here.

What’s on your shopping list for the Spring Just Between Friend’s Sale?


Homeschooling On the Road


After a major halt in our homeschooling endeavors over the holidays we kicked off January strong with a plan and a schedule. We toured a Pre-K potential … more on that in another post because ohmygoodness do I keep homeschooling? Pause for a year? What about Kindergarten the next year? So. Many. Choices. Then February arrived, schooling paused and all day ev’ryday was prep for our big Texas trip. Now we’re here! Schooling our hearts out on the road. And it’s so crazy and so fun!

We’ve been away from home for nearly 2 weeks now. I have a billion photos to share – even more than I’ve been overloading Instagram with! Texas is filling our hearts and our tummies and although I sense the kids restlessness to get back to our normal life, they’re soaking up all the new places and experiences. Especially Jemma. I wish you could hear all her questions about cotton field, oil drilling, and armadillos … her mind never stops!

All that to say, roadschooling is the bomb dot com. 

Each day we hit the ground running with new sights to see and new things to learn about. Life feels like a never-ending field trip! And who doesn’t love field trips?

For our time away from home, I did pack one of Jemma’s workbooks … which we haven’t touched. I should have known that her imagination fueled by a new place would be lessons enough. All the better to pack home, I suppose :/ Anyways, the most valuable learning tool I did pack and we have used is the iPad. We’ve had some LONG drives and a few relaxed mornings so I pounced on those opportunities to introduce Jemma to a new learning app – Disney Imagicademy’s Mickey’s Magical Arts Worldmickey 1 mickey 2 mickey 3 mickey 5 mickey 6

Jemma loved Mickey’s Magical Math World so I figured Arts World would be a slam dunk as well. It was. Obviously. Girl loves to create, make and do and Mickey’s Magical Arts World spurs her natural love of learning and creativity. Geared towards 3-8 year olds, I see this app growing with us in the years to come and as a mama, am thrilled to have a piece of technology positively contributing to her schooling opportunities … no matter which direction we go.

You too can download Mickey’s Magical Arts World and its’ companion app, Disney Imagicademy Parents for free; It comes with 5 app-based experiences and you can purchase additional ones as needed.

Have you experienced roadschooling? What tools have you found to be beneficial to learning on the go?


I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.


Game Day Grub | Greek Style Fries With Homemade Tzatziki

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #GameTimeGrub #CollectiveBias


Ready to get your game on and cheer your team to a victory from the comfort of your living room?

Of course you are! Because now that you’re a parent meeting friends at a pub is kinda sorta out of the question. And traveling to a game? Well, that would mess up everyone’s nap schedule royally; not to mention the expense that you could be filtering to important things like Disneyland trips and college savings funds :) So, settle into that cozy couch, my friends, and get ready to enjoy the big game from the scenic view of your own home. Not only can you pause and replay on a whim, you can wear your pajamas and this mama can inspire your game day grub in a big way. I’ll forewarn you though, lock the doors when the game starts, because if the neighbors catch wind, or scent, of this deliciousness, your house will become the popular gathering spot for games, big and small! greek style fries and tzatziki with alexia frozen fries

Oh Lordy, I, who rarely counts down the days to a big game, can’t wait because these Greek style fries are heaven on earth. HEAVEN. ON. EARTH. I tell ya. Regardless of the game outcome, I’ll be counting any munchie spread that includes these fries a huge win!

In preparation for the tip off I found myself at Walmart shopping for the likes of Alexia Smart Classics Crinkle Cut Fries. I’ve munched on the Sweet Potato version many times before … and love them … but Greek fries? They needed a solid Yukon potato base. And then I grabbed the Onion Rings too .. because tzatziki and onion rings sounded like the perfect companion to Greek style fries :)

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To give your Alexia fries a Greek twist, here’s what you’ll need …

Tzatziki Sauce Ingredients

  • 8 ounces plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cucumber, diced or shredded
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 teaspoons fresh dill, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Greek Toppings

  • Cucumber
  • Tomatoes
  • Lemon
  • Feta
  • Parsley

Directions

Line a baking sheet with foil (easy clean up!) and bake your Alexia Smart Classics Crinkle Cut Fries according to package instructions … 450 degrees for 15-30 minutes or so. While they bake – prep, mix and chop! alexia duoalexia frozen

First, blend all your tzatziki ingredients. I used a manual food processor and it worked wonderfully. Set aside. Second, chop your cucumber and tomatoes into small, bite-sized pieces. Last, mince your parsley.

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When your Alexia fries make their debut from the oven drizzle them with your homemade tzatziki, top with cucumbers, tomatoes and feta. Drizzle with tzatziki again … because, YUM! Add a pop of parsley across the top and a few squeezes of lemon. Finally, pop your onion rings into the oven … they’ll be piping hot just in time to scoop up any leftover tzatziki.alexia 2 alexia 3 alexia 4

As soon as that last bit of parsley hits your fries, holler to the home team that a victory snack await! You can enjoy Greek style fries family style on the coffee table or feel free to encourage those manners with plates, forks and napkins. It’s your call, mama, you’re the number one coach when game time happens at home :)

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We’re not the only ones who spend game days at home, right? And in the case that we’re not flying solo in our couch watching shenanagins, I’m guessing you have some pretty fabulous recipes of your own for make at home victory munchies – please share! As much as I want to eat Greek style fries everyday, I may need to mix it up on occasion :)

Don’t miss Alexia on Facebook and Pinterest – you’ll find recipes, newsletter promotions and more!


Have Shoes, Will Run … Austin, Texas 5K

Ya’ll are just aching to hear about the 5K, right?

Good news is … I’m staying up late to write about it! Great news is … I’m already looking forward to my next race in March so you know it must have gone decent! The running bug has bit and I think I’m officially owning the title of “runner”. Well, probably more accurately “jogger”, but setting my sights on the final goal has got to count for something, so runner it is.

This 5K was more special than most because 1) It timed perfectly for our Texas trip which equated to my first ever destination race and 2) I wasn’t running solo, this race was all about me and my main ladies —> my amazing mama and fabulous sisters.

We trained, coordinated outfits, and paired up by our pace goals. Paramount Break-A-Leg 5K … HERE WE COME!

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Before dawn we woke up, donned our Team Cheetah gear and drove an hour into the heart of Austin. It was dark, the kids were tired and we may have gotten a bit lost (to the tune of a mile or so!) while walking to the starting line, BUT we made it with 8 minutes to spare! Phewf!

The kick off horn sounded and off we went … straight up a hill :/

Hannah, my youngest sister, is the true runner. She has clocked some good times in past races and I luckily (?) was paired with her as my pace buddy. Between her encouragement and her beeping Garmin we whooped that hill’s trash to the tune of Gwen Stefani (me) and Jason Derulo (her). The terrain eased up as we passed Texas’ Capitol building, looped near the University and finally, FINALLY, towards the finish. Three miles is a long stretch. Never let anyone tell you it’s not. Running doesn’t come easy to most so I’m really proud that this mama couch potato has persevered through a 5K twice now.

Since we were all running, our in action race shots are lacking. I’ll bless you with this one gem though. Thanks Katie for the quick snap!

austin 5k in action

 

And the “OMG! We did it!” selfie :)austin 5k 11

The brave Uncle Aaron (Hannah’s husband) wrangled the kids and then helped take our sweaty, adrenaline infused 5K completion shots. Not only was the weather perfect in Austin … clear skies, no rain, perfect temp … we all count it pretty darn fabulous to have logged such a fun memory in our bank of mama sister adventures.

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The name Team Cheetah obviously came from our wild and awesome leggings. I discovered the L.A. based shop on Instagram and what can I say, they spoke to me! Nothing screams 5K domination like a pair of bright colored  leggings, right? And these aren’t the only show stoppers AyAyAy offers – I love the Ikat too! 

All great races start with a good foundation … SHOES! Thus, we paired our cheetah leggings with a sturdy spread of purple and pink athletic shoes compliments of Rack Room Shoes. Here’s the rundown …

KATHY (my mama) /// This 56 year old running fool had one request for her shoes … “wild!” and wild I delivered with her Asics Gel-Noosa Tri 9

ME /// My Asics Gel-Cumulus Lit were the epitome of comfort and my first ever experience with Asics. They didn’t take long to break in at all and are mega supportive. I may just be an Asics convert …

KATIE /// Katie sported the Nike Relentless 4 which, and I quote “are a perfect fit for my low volume, slender feet – LOVE Nikes!”

HANNAH /// As much as I fell in love with my Asics, Hannah is a die hard Nike girl. She killed this 5K in her Nike FS Lite Run 2.

Pre-race jitters went out the window when Team Cheetah picked up our race bibs – the perfect matching purple! Icing on the cake for a fun and fabulous girls run if I do say so myself. We can’t wait for another … I’m daring to say we’ll make a girls 5K an annual tradition!

Which, leads me to my one little bit of running advice … consistent practice equals consistent results. For me, this means hitting the pavement at least 3 times a week and ALWAYS working towards a race. I made the mistake of not picking a new 5K after my last race and I lost all my stamina and had to start training back at square one! A pending race day apparently keeps me motivated and committed to my training so, for accountability’s sake, my next race is March 15th and here are my Break-A-Leg results … austin 5k results

Is a 5K on your horizon too? I promise you can do it! I had never ever ever run before last August and now it’s something I find peace and stress relief in. And, if you’re a runner (or just a tennis shoe lover) are you in the Asics or Nike camp? Or something else? Spill the running wisdom!


Our shoes were generously provided by Rack Room Shoes and we received a discount from AyAyAy Apparel for our matching tights leggings. Check the out of Facebook (Rack Room + AyAyAy) and Instagram (Rack Room + AyAyAy) and I’m betting you’ll catch wind of awesome sales and product debuts!


Perfect Pins

perfect pins 4 One /// Two /// Three /// Four /// Five

Pinterest is still one of my most favorite things. I’ve given up on accomplishing it all, and rather, am content just to browse as my down time. And hence, being on vacation I’m doing a fair share of pinning. It has sparked some ideas that I’ll eventually act on, but mostly, it’s just a break to turn a blind eye to the laundry and appreciate something beautiful.

Which, all of the above are extremely beautiful. 

Other things on my daily beauty scale? Hearing Jemma and Max giggle like crazy as they fly down the park slide and shriek “higher, higher” from the line of swings. And those little purple heart sunglasses propped up on Jem’s forehead like a movie star … in comparison to Max’s  grimy little feet from running in the dirt. It’s all my life and it’s all beautiful, because they are my greatest blessings. 

Now, off to build that bean pole teepee so we can make some magical memories this summer!


Style File /// A Touch of Summer

DSC_0109 DSC_0113 amud bags 1DSC_0137 a DSC_0143 aTop, THML from Stitch Fix /// Skinnies, Vigoss from Nordstrom via Ebates /// Shoes, Tieks /// Bag, Exploradora from Mus Bags /// Hoops, Fossil /// Watch, Michael Kors from Nordstrom 

Heavens to Betsy! This trip turned out to be much warmer than I expected. No jackets or layers needed – it’s summer in Texas, ya’ll!

This post debuts the second peek at my latest bag obsessionFirst hereI’ll be unpacking it for you soon because it has literally been the most amazing carry on, diaper bag, vacation purse EVA. Truly. In the meantime, when you fall in love with one use code GRETCHEN10 for 10% off!

I wore this get up to the Museum at Texas Tech where Jem and I had a mini date/homeschool lesson on Tuesday. Her insightful questions and engagement at a pretty adult museum made me smile … a big ol’ Texas size smile. My girl just loves learning and it’s so awesome to see her soak up new things. She is wrapping her mind around fossils, skeletons, and artifacts; wants to travel to Argentina; and is very amused by things that were once alive and are now “deaded”.  Who knows, maybe she’ll be a little curator someday :)

Back to the heat. I packed totally wrong for the kids. Too many long sleeve shirts and no shorts for Jemma so I popped into Old Navy and grabbed her this little dress to cool off her vacation wardrobe. We’re off to the Austin area next and it’s supposed to be even warmer there so I’m sure she’ll get lots of wear out of it. Well, at least until we get back to the Northwest’s frigid temps. 

So far in Texas, I’m eating WAY too much – fried cheese, pulled pork, steak, creamed corn, Tex Mex, and Bluebell ice cream – all while keeping my running schedule … apparently to balance things out. We’ve loved our time with Dominic’s brother and his family; Jem especially because cousins are rad. I’m going to share more about them later as they’re expecting a miracle baby and it’s a wonderful, amazing and fabulous story that will melt your heart! 

Cross your fingers and pray now – I’m driving 6 hours with the kids today. Our longest road trip to date … eek!


I received a discount on my Exploradora bag from Mus Bags in exchange for sharing my love for this amazing shop.