running and shutters (weekend)

This past weekend started off very exciting- Jeff and Lelia welcomed their first baby into their family on Friday afternoon! I am beyond excited for them, and I can’t wait to meet baby Bryce in a few weeks! Kaya and Kaelyn are just as eager to hold him as I am.

Meanwhile, we started off our Saturday with some sweet baby Nella snuggles! One of the best things about Saturdays is being able to move a little more slowly and enjoy time together before we start the day’s projects.I had my longest training run planned for that morning- 13 miles! That’s the farthest I’ve ever run, so once I was finished, I was felling really proud (hence my hands in the air- woohoo!). All the muscles in my legs wanted to quit when I hit mile 11.5, but I pushed through, and when I reached the end of my route, Michael and the girls jumped out from around the corner and started yelling and cheering for me. They said they had to practice for race day… obviously! I’ll take “practice cheering” anytime. I love my thoughtful family.I was very ready for a nap after all that running, but first, we all helped Daddy finish putting the new shutters on the house. (Kaya insisted on wearing those blue toy glasses all day long!)
On Sunday morning, Nurse Kaelyn gave everyone checkups. She loves playing with this dress-up outfit and always tells me that she wants to be a “nurse [who] takes care of babies” when she grows up.

The rest of the weekend was filled with naps, homemade paninis, and church. What could be better? I love these simple weekends with my little family.

halfway to half-crazy (half marathon training update)

Someone’s always talking about some new life-changing diet or health fad that will improve your life by 1000% and make all your dreams come true… but you don’t need any of that stuff, trust me. I’ve discovered the real secret to success:

Want to test your willpower? Make your ab muscles sore without doing any crunches? End up with a smokin’-hot farmer’s tan? Sleep better at night? Have a good reason for healthy snacking? Beef up your calves so that it’s hard to get your skinny jeans over them? Have an excuse to go (running) shoe shopping?

Train for a half marathon!

I’ve got just under one month to go until my first-ever half marathon, and overall, I’m still feeling pumped up and excited for race day. After nearly 8.5 years of running, it’s been really fun to follow an official training plan and challenge myself in a different way each day. I know I’ll never be the fastest (and speed intervals completely crush me sometimes), but I’m having a good time trying new things.

I discovered that the amount of sleep I get makes a huge difference in my pace and how I feel during a run. Sometimes, when the baby is up in the middle of the night or it’s been an insanely busy week, I question why I ever thought doing this was a good idea, because being a parent just makes you so tired. But slow miles are better than no miles, even on little sleep.

And I can’t help but feel accomplished when I get out there and get it done, despite the wind or rain. If I even come close to finishing in two hours on race day, I will be ecstatic.Thankfully, my sister-in-law Lelia has already done this a few times, and she’s been able to give me some great advice along the way, including coming up with healthy post-run snacks, since I’m a pretty picky eater. Kind bars, string cheese, and almonds have all been my favorites after finishing a long run.

Once I hit about 6 miles or so, I usually start to feel like I could just keep on running forever (although once I finally stop, my legs are always a little achey, reminding me that running indefinitely isn’t an option quite yet). I’ve actually been surprised to find that my sorest muscles after a long run are my abs, which I usually notice when I wake up and try to roll out of bed the next morning.

I invested in a second pair of running shoes (Saucony Kinvara 7) after reading this study, which found that runners who don’t always use the same model of shoes have a 39% lower risk of injury. Plus, how can you go wrong with all this neon?

Here’s to a few more weeks of long runs before RACE DAY! 🙂

five on friday (04/28)

It’s the final Friday of April… what?! We’re already moving past spring into summer, and I can’t believe how the time is flying by.

ONE. We’ve had a tremendous amount of rain here for the past week and half, so when the sun finally came out again, we were more than willing to run outside! This little princess is the calmest baby. She’s happy to just sit in the stroller and watch everyone else play or work. That little tongue!

TWO. Between Michael being out of town and then all the rain, there wasn’t an ideal time to cut the grass this week, so our yard was starting to look a bit like a jungle. Michael was working late on Wednesday night, so I decided to mow the lawn as a surprise for him. This was my first time ever mowing the whole thing on my own, and I won’t tell you how long it actually took me to finish… but Michael was so happy and I felt pretty accomplished for getting it done. Plus, this totally counts as cross-training for my half marathon, right? Kaya took the picture- she’s getting good!

THREE. Speaking of my half marathon… Overall, I’m still feeling really pumped up and excited about it, and training is going well. I ran nine miles this morning, which is my furthest-ever distance. Running greater distances makes me want to nap more, and my appetite is a lot larger, too. #runallthemiles #takeallthenaps #eatallthefood

Needless to say, I was pretty happy when we all went out for Chinese after my long run last week! We’ve been trying to have one “family date” out for dinner each month, and it’s really been fun for all of us.

Don’t be fooled by all that chicken on her plate… Kaelyn pretty much gorges herself on Jello every time. Good thing she’s still only two and free!

FOUR. Anytime we go anywhere, Kaelyn loves pretending to drive… …and if you can’t drive the real car, a pretend one is a good substitute! Both girls love getting this grocery cart at Kroger. I’ll admit, it makes running errands a lot more fun!

FIVE. When your dog starts to shake off in the middle of you snapping a photo… haha!Linking up here, here, and here today!

monument avenue 10k race recap (2017)

This was my second year running the Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10k, and I had even more fun this year than last!

I convinced Karl to do this as his very first race, and I was so excited to be able to start together! Any reason to see my brother is a good one, especially now that he lives several hours away from us. Credit goes to my dad, who came to cheer us on, for these first couple of photos!
Karl and I started at the same time, but we didn’t stick together- I told him I’d see him at the finish line, and I took off! I started a little fast, but I decided to keep it up for as long as I could (and pass up some of the slower groups).Apparently, I also do really weird things with my fingers while I’m running…I took the first half a little too fast, and I really started to feel it around mile 3.5 or so. I slowed down, but still tried to stay within my goal pace of 9:00 min/mile. At the finish, I clocked in at 53:34, which was an average of 8:37 min/mile. While training here in the mountains, my best 6-miler averaged out to 9:14 min/mile, so shaving off that much time made me ecstatic!Last year, I was so nervous for this race, because I was in my first trimester of pregnancy, and dealing with a lot of nausea and fatigue. My only goals last year were to finish and keep the baby safe. This year, all I could think about was seeing my family and holding my sweet little Nella at the finish line. It’s amazing how much can change in just one year. Photo-bomb courtesy of Karl!Jeff and Lelia ran too, and we met up with them afterward! Lelia gets some serious credit for doing this at 30 weeks pregnant. Mom and Dad Irwin also came to see us finish, but they had to leave shortly after.
Of course, there had to be donuts afterward, so we picked some up and hung out at Jeff and Lelia’s place for a little while. These were delicious, but I’ve realized that almost anything tastes amazing after a run.Here’s to another race down, and more to come- I’ve got the fever now!

five on friday (04/07)

ONE. We spent a lot of time outdoors this week, enjoying the sunshine and trying to wear the puppy out (and let’s be honest, the kids too)! It’s a good thing we soaked in the warmth while we could, because today we’ve had snow flurries and wind gusts of up to 40 mph. April’s weather is full of surprises!

Nella loves riding in the stroller……and napping in it, too!Sidenote: when did Kaya’s legs get so long?!We met up with Daddy at the playground one day after work. The girls eagerly wait for him to come home each day, and I love seeing him act completely silly and play with them when he does.

TWO. Scout’s been learning all the important things a puppy should: house-training, not jumping up on people, sit, stay, and oh, you know, how to go down the slide.  When your best friend is four years old, that’s what you get! She actually did this completely on her own- no pulling, pushing, or coaxing needed (although it might’ve had something to do with retrieving the stick she dropped)!

THREE. One reason I like going to Kangaroo Kids each week is that I can play with my girls without getting distracted by all the things on my to-do list at home. Nella usually takes a little catnap while we’re there, and that’s when I get to be crazy! This week, I helped each of them into these little tunnels and then rolled them around.

I wish they’d never get too old for this.

FOUR. A few months ago, I gave Kaya a lesson on how to tie her shoes. She didn’t seem to understand yet, so I just let it go and figured we’d come back to it another day. This morning, while she was playing with a larger pair of shoes I had stored away for her to use in the future, she randomly came up to me and said, “Look! I tied my shoe!” At first, I almost thought she was somehow trying to trick me, because we haven’t practiced since that one day, and the shoelaces were tied so very neatly.

She then proceeded to show me how she did it. No tricks here!

I’m so proud of this little girl!FIVE. I guess I’m still on a high from running the Monument Avenue 10k last weekend (blog post on that coming next week), because I went ahead and signed up for my very first half marathon. I’ve wanted to try the distance for a few years, and I figured that now is as good a time as any to just go for it! I love seeing what my body can do and how I can grow stronger.Happy weekend!

Linking up here, here, and here today!

five on friday (03/10)

ONE. Michael is my knight in shining armor. Actually, I’m certain he was made for his role as such a tender-hearted, patient husband and father of daughters. I started the week off being sick (again, which is typically unusual for me), and he came home early from work just to take care of us. All four of us adore him, and I’m so grateful for this guy who gives us his all one hundred percent of the time.

TWO. The “March comes in like a lion” expression has certainly been true around here lately, with our area experiencing everything from extreme gusts of wind, to snow, to rainstorms, to 60-degree days. Kaya was beyond excited about the random snow we had, and although none of it stuck around, she loved catching the flakes and twirling outside in it.

THREE. Two of Kaya and Kaelyn’s favorite things: jammies and baby dolls! These little girls play “babies” together nearly all day everyday. Kaya’s baby, Alice, was apparently born and celebrated her 3rd birthday party all in the same week. Kaelyn’s baby, Doll, learned to walk today. These are very busy babies!FOUR. I’ve made some major strides (haha, running humor) in my pace in these past few weeks. Doing speed work has really been paying off, and although it might not look like much to some, I’m so happy to see improvement. I’ve never been a very fast runner, but getting back to where I was pre-Nella is encouraging.

FIVE. When I’m nursing the baby, the girls love to make a “tunnel” under my legs between the ottoman and the chair. Kaelyn thought it’d be fun to hide and then surprise me… I think this little .GIF is pretty hilarious (and oh so representative of her personality)!  

Happy Friday!

Linking up here, here, and here today!

five on friday (02/17)

ONE. Michael finished making his work desk/table this week! He’s really excited to have his own space for doing coding projects and using an extra monitor when he needs it. Naturally, Kaelyn had to try it out!

Kaya thinks it makes a pretty good fort for coloring.

TWO. We have a tendency to hold on to the same old library books for several weeks, but we finally went and chose some new ones! I love that the kid section also includes puzzles, Duplos, and coloring pages. Kaya put this giant puzzle together on her own!

THREE. We haven’t gone out for dinner in a few months, so last weekend, we enjoyed some Chinese food. This picture sums it all up perfectly- Kaya is too busy eating to stop for a photo, Michael has a mouthful of food, and Kaelyn is wild about eating Jello.

FOUR. I finished a local running challenge (complete 100 miles in January), and I finally got my free shirt last week! In summer, a hundred miles in a month is a piece of cake, but I’m actually pretty proud of getting it done in the winter… and I kind of forgot about it until the month was half over. Oops. Nella was pretty excited too! 

FIVE. I knew my kids were growing up fast, but who knew they were old enough to drive? Haha. They love pretending. Cutest little drivers ever.

five on friday (02/03)

It’s February! The countdown to my birthday begins (9 days)! But for now, here are my top five moments from this week:

ONE. These little girls were so excited to celebrate Groundhog Day this week! For preschool, we learned all about groundhogs and made these adorable hats. They absolutely love learning about animals and the world around us, so they really enjoyed this activity. Kaelyn has been wearing her hat ever since she made it (except for sleeping, of course)! TWO. We finally got outside for some fresh air this week! Overall, I feel like it’s been a relatively warm winter, but I’ve still been wary of taking the baby out in chilly temperatures (although she’s probably the warmest of anyone, what with being curled up against me in the wrap with all her layers of clothing).

Anyway, there is nothing that seems to rejuvenate us more than some sunshine and cool, crisp air.

THREE. When the cutest baby in the whole world stops nursing for no reason other than to look up at you and give you the best gift she can… a giant smile!

FOUR. This might not look like much to most people, but at 3 months postpartum, I’m proud of both my pace and distance from Saturday. I saw a meme this morning that said something like “It doesn’t matter how far you go, how fast you are, or how long it takes… it just matters that you DO it!” I’m improving and feeling so good about it. FIVE. And apparently, when I run a lot, I start craving pancakes. Big, soft, fluffy pancakes! Michael whipped up this recipe for the first time, and it’s definitely a keeper. I made this syrup, but instead of a full tablespoon of maple extract, I used half maple and half vanilla. If there are pancakes in heaven, these are them. Mmmm.

Linking up here, here, and here today!

five on friday (11/18)

ONE. We jumped back into our homeschool preschool routine this week! It feels good to have a little more structure to our days, and the girls have just been loving doing activities again.

We kicked off the week with the letter L. What better way to decorate the letter L than with your lipstick-covered lips? Kaya and Kaelyn love any reason to play with makeup, so this activity was a big hit.
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“Show me your lipstick!” I said, and she instantly puckered up._mg_6758

We also learned about lions and painted paper plates to look like them. Kaya wished hers was a mask._mg_6774TWO. I had my postpartum check-up with the midwife this week, so Michael watched the kids for about an hour. He ended up taking them on a Daddy-daughters date to Sweet Frog, which is pretty much heaven to these ice-cream-lovin’ girls. I always seem to miss out on froyo, but I love seeing them have a good time.img_20161114_135503

THREE. I made it through my first solo shopping adventure with all three girls. We just went to the dollar store, so it really wasn’t much shopping, but it’s still confidence-building to get out and get used to juggling three little people.

Of course, this little pumpkin needed a snack break in the car, because hello, she’s got to maintain those gloriously chubby cheeks.img_20161114_162523

FOUR. My body is finally starting to feel stronger and I am so happy to get outside and get my heart pumping. After having a baby,  I always want to hit the ground running (literally), but it really is worth taking the time to rest and recover before pushing your body too hard. For now, I’m not fast and my mileage is low, but I’m proud of this body and all it has done.img_20161117_071920FIVE. This little baby has already outgrown almost all of her newborn clothes! Shouldn’t that be illegal or something? I’m holding on to this snuggly, sweet stage as tightly as I can, but the days are already flying by way too fast.img_20161117_133837

With that fauxhawk, her tongue sticking out, and her finger in the air, it almost looks like she’s saying “rock on!” I love this crazy baby.

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Happy Friday!

Linking up here, here, and here today!

five on friday (04/22)

How is it Friday again? In a way, it feels like it’s always the weekend… and then sometimes, it feels like all we do is wait for the weekend to get here. Time is a funny thing. We’ve spent a lot of time outside this week, so I have a lot of happy, bright photos for today.

ONE. Last Saturday was “Virginia Tech Remembrance Day” (officially named so as of this year, by the governor). The university always hold a 5k run in memory of those who were lost that day, but I never sign up for it… all because I get too emotional about it. I lived on campus when the tragedy struck and lost a classmate, so it’s easy to feel sensitive about April 16th. Anyway, I ended up completing a solo. 7.8-mile, run that morning. It felt good to be in the sunshine, push my body a little harder than usual, and still spend time remembering the Hokies we lost 9 years ago.

TWO. Michael has been working so hard these days with his regular job, revamping his online camp registration system, and teaching a real college course. He hasn’t had a whole lot of time to play games, so I was happy to see him enjoying some time online with his brothers last weekend. Of course, Kaya had to join in! _MG_1606 THREE. Lately, we’ve been walking up to the bus stop to “pick up Daddy”, as Kaya says. She begs me to let her bring her baby doll stroller with us, and because it’s a short walk, I say yes. This is the happiest girl in the world right here._MG_1616

Kaelyn loves to see Daddy get off the bus. She was running to him as fast as she could when she saw him walking toward us! Of course, New Piggy has to go everywhere lately, too.

FOUR. We’ve been taking short family walks (which somehow still end up taking an hour when we let the little people stretch their legs), and enjoying all the sights of spring. Kaya loves to sit on any big rock she sees, so naturally, we had to sit down by the pond for a bit._MG_1622They also love the horses in a nearby field. This gray gelding is named “Chance” (I used to work over at the barn he’s at, so that is actually his real name), and he’s Kaya’s current favorite.
It’s on these warm sunny days that I really miss riding._MG_1626

FIVE. We tried a new soup recipe this week, and it was definitely something to make again. This Italian minestrone reminded me a lot of my days in Switzerland. It required a lot more vegetable-chopping than I normally like to do, but it was worth it!

Happy weekend!

Linking up here!