Monday, May 2, 2016

Mother's Day Gifts for Every Mom!



Mother's Day is in a week! I'm pretty excited because this year will mark my first "official" Mother's Day. Last year I was just entering my third trimester with Chloe when Mother's Day rolled around. JP still got me a little something special which was so sweet. Since this year marks my first Mother's Day, I figured I'd share some special gifts for every type of mom. I personally think all of these are awesome ideas and would love all of them!

For the healthy mom that's working out and getting in shape.
Lululemon is always an awesome option for anyone who is into workout out or just being comfortable. I love Lulu because it lasts for a long time. I have some Wonder Under crops that I got in 2012 that I'm still rockin'! If you can't quite splurge that much, any workout gear is great. You could also get a personalized water bottle for workouts and to help momma drink more water!

For the mom who's always working on her home.
Pretty much every mom is constantly working to make her home the perfect place for her family. One of the best gifts a mom could receive is cleaning services! How about a top to bottom deep spring cleaning that she doesn't have to do? Or how about a year's worth of monthly cleaning services? That will help a busy mom save time and energy that she can spend with her family. Another great option is home decor! This monogrammed table runner is the perfect way to spice up the kitchen where I'm sure mom is spending a lot of time!

For the mom who needs a break.
I can't think of a mom who doesn't need a break or a little bit of me time. While going to the bathroom alone is a wish for mommas with littles, I can think of some other alone time that's even better. How about a spa day? A day of rest and relaxation is just what every mom needs. You can find a spa near you and choose some services or let her decide! Either way, I know mom will appreciate this one. Another way to unwind is with a glass of wine. I know there are wine loving moms out there who would love a Wine Club of the Month membership!

For the outdoorsy mom who loves her garden.
A personalized garden stone is the perfect way to spice up her outdoor oasis! Moms who are working on their special space outside would love a way to personalize and bring their garden to life. Another way to do that is by getting her a stepping stone that she can create with her kids as a fun project!

For the trendy mom who's fashion is on point.
You can't go wrong with a little Kendra Scott. I'm pretty sure that anything from Kendra would be okay with just about every mom out there! There are pieces for every budget so you can get something small or go big! Take a look at some of their gift sets too because you'll save some money getting a matching set for mom. You know she's worth it!

So tell me, What would be your ultimate Mother's Day gift? What are you getting for your mom?

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Friday, April 29, 2016

Chloe Grace: 9 Months Old


Here we are facing the end of yet another month which means my baby girl is another month old. I'll admit, it feels like it's been a while since I did one of these monthly recaps. This is definitely a good thing, but time is still flashing by before my eyes. My baby girl has been here for 3/4 of a year. The best, craziest and most joyful 9 months of my life.


This month Chloe stayed in Houston all month long! I'm pretty sure that's a first for us. We may have been immobile as far as traveling goes, but our little bug has picked up the mobility a lot! Last month we bought her walker and she has figured out how to go everywhere with it. It is by far her favorite toy! I love watching her squeal and zoom around the house. She is movin', groovin', bumping into things and showing me all the different objects I need to move around the house. Let the baby proofing commence! As far as crawling goes, she isn't crawling in the traditional sense. She does the army crawl on her belly and is a champ at scooting backwards and spinning around to face the direction she want to see.


Oh my, Miss Personality! This little bug has so much personality and sass, I can't even handle it. She gabs up a storm some days, and I'm always wondering what exactly she's telling us. I have a feeling she tattles on me to my mom sometimes. She seems to talk a lot when we're at her Nonna's house, so she must be ratting me out. Not only does she show her personality through her babbling, but her facial expressions! We've always said she has a Lucille Ball face. She has lots of attitude, and you always know how she feels about something. Some of her favorite noises to make are blowing raspberries and roaring. She has started roaring at people when we go on walks or lately, at the workers that are at our house! It's so funny! She also will mimic us and roar back when we roar at her. It's so much fun!


I can officially say we have a good sleeper. Just before she turned 8 months, she started sleeping in her own crib but not quite through the night. Now she may wake up and cry, but she goes right back to sleep. She goes down between 7:30-8:00pm and stays there until 7:00-8:00am! I know it seems kind of late, but we did what works for us and it finally happened! She loves her crib and her nighttime routine. We take a bath {her absolute favorite}, Daddy gives her a baby massage and gets her in her jammies, I nurse her and read a book and then it's bedtime with her Sleep Sheep!


One of Chloe's favorite things in the world is water. This girl loves bath time, putting her feet in puddles, walking in water, drinking from her water cup, blowing bubbles and of course swimming! She's been in the hot tub so far {only heated to bath temp!}, but it won't be long until she gets to go swimming in the big pool! We're starting swimming lessons in June with some of her friends. We'll have a small group lesson with 5 babies for 12 weeks, and we're so excited to start!


Chloe's Firsts this Month:
  • First time to stand unsupported
  • First time at Top Golf
  • First playdate at City Centre 
  • First crawfish boil
  • First baby shower {that wasn't thrown for her of course!}
  • First Houston flood day {I think the scary thing is that it likely will not be the last}
  • First horse competition

My Darling Chloe Grace,

You light up my darkest days. You bring sunshine when the rain won't seem to stop. You always put the greatest smile on my face, even on the hardest days. I can't believe I have the best little friend in the whole world. I'm not saying that every day is easy or that you're always so good. No. We have our moments and you throw some pretty solid temper tantrums. Despite the hard times, you are always the greatest part of my day.

I constantly pray for your little soul. I ask God to give you a heart of gold. To help you grow strong physically, mentally and emotionally. To teach you love and kindness. To be yourself no matter what. I pray that He will help me teach you these things so that you will grow up to know Him and believe in Him!

This past month you have continued to grow and surprise me. You're strong physically and in spirit. You love to stand, jump and you've started to pull up. Yikes! You also know what you want and exactly what to do to get your way. You're quite the little ham and have so much personality! You talk and babble all the time. I think you tell Nonna and Aunt Em stories about what we do when they aren't there. I also think you tattle on your momma when I don't do what you want! I love hearing your voice and your laugh. It's music to my ears!

Your favorite things are bath time or playing in any water you can get into, walking around in your walker, petting your puppies and getting their attention, walks and runs with momma in the jogging stroller, reaching into your toy box and picking your own toys, playdates with your best friends Kate, Mollie and Harper, eating especially chicken, sweet potatoes and avocados, nursing with momma and snuggling Daddy when he gets home from work! You don't really like taking off your clothes, being put down for naps, when your food is all gone and being told no.

You continue to amaze me little bug. You've been in our lives for as long as you were in the womb now. 3/4 of a year on this earth with just a few months until your first birthday! I can't wait to see how you change and grow over this next month. I'm so lucky to be your momma and have you as my baby girl. Your momma and daddy love you so much ChloWorm!

I love you forever,
Momma

Because this is what taking 9 month photos really looks like!
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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

On the Road Again

Okay, while the post title may suggest that I am or am going to be traveling on the road again, that's not quite the case. I've been traveling though. And on the road. But by foot! A few weeks ago I got back into running action after a few month hiatus!

Here's a brief rewind in case you're new around here! In February 2015, I severely sprained my ankle while running at 16 weeks pregnant. I wasn't able to run for the rest of my pregnancy. Only a mile at a slow pace towards the end when I wasn't really up for running anyway! It was so disappointing as I was hoping to continue running and racing throughout my pregnancy. I started running again around 6 weeks postpartum and it wasn't easy. I ran short distances, took breaks and didn't push myself too hard. I reflected on getting back to running post baby to help other mommas out there and to encourage them not to give up! In early November, I started having hip issues. My SI joint flared up due to overcompensation from my ankle over the past several months. This set my running back yet again. I couldn't go on long walks until the end of November, and I didn't run again until the end of December. This was a challenge since I had back to back half marathons in January! I went into my first race with hopes of finishing. I planned on walking and taking picture stops since it was at Disney! My amazing, supportive husband ran with me, helped me push through and even finish in 2:25. 


The second race was the following weekend and in Houston! This was my 6th consecutive Houston Marathon weekend event, and after the successful weekend before, I knew I could do it again. This time I even finished in 2:06! After my accomplishments, I reflected on what it was like to go from Marathoner to Mom. Life has changed, priorities have changed. Shortly after my marathon to mom post, I took another running break to truly heal and get excited for running again. Which brings us to today!

I'm running again! Truly running this time. No aches. No pains. No peeing my pants. {TMI? Sorry, it's just the truth and I'm proud of it!} When I started running again after giving birth, I started too soon because I was itching to run again! After experiencing injury after injury, I knew I needed to stop and take a break after my races. I continued to walk and walk and walk. It was easy to do with two eager pups and Chloe as my walking companions. I made sure to walk quickly and get my heart rate up to make it worth it, and I tried to go between 2-4 miles. Eventually, I'd head out with Chloe and do some walk/jog intervals. I did more walking than jogging, but it felt good to get my heart rate up and push myself a bit.

A few weeks ago, I woke up, did my usual Friday morning thing and then I was itching to run. Like really get out there, feel the pavement under my feet and push myself kind of run! So I did. Lucky for me, JP works from home on Fridays, so I was able to go baby stroller free!


I hit my favorite trails along the bayou and tackled just under 4 miles. It was the best I'd felt running in a long time. And so my running began. I've been trying to run 3 times/week as I ease back into it. Here's what last week looked like:

Sunday 4/17: Rest {It was baby shower day!}
Monday 4/18: Teach Spin {45 minutes} & Tabata {30 minutes}

Tuesday 4/19: 3 miles @ 9:55 pace
Wednesday 4/20: Teach Kickboxing {45 minutes}
Thursday 4/21: 2 mile walk @ 17:00 pace

Friday 4/22: Rest 
Saturday 4/23: 3.65 miles @ 9:35 pace


This week has been off to a pretty good start! I'm trying to get back into it the right way this time to avoid injury. I'd like to run some 5Ks here and there over the next few months. I signed up for a virtual 5K to get things rolling! Plus it was a Super Mom 5K which seems fitting as my first Mother's Day is right around the corner. I'm planning to run that one this weekend. My next goal is to figure out my fall race or races. I don't want to push it or over do it too much. We'll see what the future has in store for my running career!

Since it's Workout Wednesday, I couldn't leave y'all without a challenge! In honor of my return to running, I've got an interval run for y'all to try. Channel your inner super hero and focus on speed like The Flash!



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Monday, April 25, 2016

Weekend Photo Dump!

It's funny how Monday always seems to show up again and again. I guess we shouldn't complain because that means that life is going on just as it should! I could go on without the Monday morning blues though. I miss these mornings when my little bug wakes up and fusses a bit until I come grab her from her crib! She gives me the biggest smile and loves on me a bit which is the greatest feeling in the world! I'm lucky though, I only miss her two mornings a week. Plus, I love what I do! I don't love waking up before 5am and sometimes before 4am, but I love my job, helping others and getting paid to work out! It's all worth it in the end and I'm a better momma to Chloe for it.

So how do we clear away the Monday morning blues for just a little bit? We look back on just how amazing out weekend was and hope the next one is just as amazing!


Thursday and Friday were pretty uneventful! We were rained in Thursday so we played inside all day. By Friday we were ready to be outside as much as possible, so we headed down to my parents! It was a beautiful, sunny Earth Day!


Saturday I started my morning with a run on the bayou! I had to check out the water level of the bayou and see how runnable the trails were after last week's floods. The water has gone down, but the bayou is still high, some trails have too much debris and the dog park is closed for a while.

Later that day we went to watch Kristin at her riding competition! She competes in reigning and it was fun to finally see her compete in person. {I got to watch a stream of one competition a few months ago!} Then we got to spend some time together which was so nice, but it wasn't nearly enough! The res of the day was spent running errands at Babies R Us and dinner at a new restaurant within walking distance of our house called Skinny Ritas! It was delicious! It's a different take on Mexican food and some of it is even healthy. I had the quinoa and veggie chile relleno. It wasn't battered or fried and it was filled with quinoa, edamame, corn, squash and bell pepper. They also served grilled veggies on the side instead of rice and beans which I loved! Unfortunately, I still ate way too many chips which I don't think will ever be considered healthy. If only...


Our alarms went off bright and early Sunday morning, so we could get down to UofH's campus for the March of Dimes March for Babies! My mom works at Houston Methodist and is a neonatal nurse. All the Methodist employees around the various locations join together to make a team! Last year I was on our babymoon when my mom did it, so I knew I wanted to join her this year. Our guys tagged along and Chloe too! It was her first "race." We walked 5 miles around the University of Houston and had a blast! We got free sun glasses, hats, necklaces, ice cream and more. Tons of fun and for a great cause!

Afterwards, JP, Chlo and I headed home for the rest of the day. There was little resting on our Sunday because we were busy clearing EVERYTHING out of our kitchen. Nothing in our cabinets, nothing in our drawers, nothing on our counter tops, completely clear because we're starting our renovations today!!! I am so incredibly excited. Before pictures were taken and I can't wait to share with y'all our before and afters. Hopefully I'll have a good recommendation for anyone looking for contractors in the Houston area. We'll just have to wait and see!

I hope y'all had wonderful weekends as well! Now we just have to take a deep breath and remember that the next weekend will be here before we know it! Have a happy Monday y'all!


Friday, April 22, 2016

Easy, Peasy Peanut Butter Cookies

FriYaY! This week has been kind of crazy in southeast Texas. We've dealt with lots of rain, flooding, more rain and more flooding from Monday to Thursday. The good news is that my home is in the clear! We sit at the top of a hill just half a mile away from the Buffalo Bayou. Thank goodness streets around here were laid out properly. It has probably saved countless homes and apartment complexes in the Montrose/Midtown area. In case you have no idea what I'm talking about, on Monday Houston experienced historic flooding. Worse than many hurricanes and it was compared to Tropical Storm Allison from 2001. Here's what Allen Parkway, just by my house looked like Monday afternoon:


Straight ahead is Montrose Blvd, running left to right is Allen Parkway. Allen runs parallel to the bayou and was completely underwater all the way into downtown. I went for a run with Chloe on Tuesday between rain showers to see what the bayou looked like. Here's a comparison from a few weeks ago and this week:


Different angles, but if the picture on the left was this week, then the water would be covering ALL the green you see! Our poor dog park is completely underwater again. The sun is coming out today for the first time in a week, so I'm hoping everything starts to dry out!


Since we were cooped up in the house this week, I did a little baking. Nothing crazy because I'm trying to get rid of stuff before our kitchen renovation starts. I looked through the pantry and decided to make my favorite peanut butter cookies! They're so easy with the simplest ingredients. In fact, you could probably find these ingredients in most college kids homes. They're that easy.

These cookies are the perfect amount of chewy and crumbly, just the consistency you want your peanut butter cookies! Not to mention, they're gluten free for anyone with gluten issues.


Ingredients:
1 cup peanut butter 
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp vanilla

**Note** Baking soda and vanilla are option if you don't have any! The baking soda helps with consistency and the vanilla adds flavor!

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Combine all ingredients together in large bowl. Stir until everything is mixed well together.
3. Place dollops on ungreased cookie sheet. Note: Don't place too close together, these guys spread! 
4. Bake for 10 minutes.
5. Remove from pan and let cool on cooling rack.
6. ENJOY!

One batch can make roughly 12-18 cookies. I made 15 pretty big cookies! You can add in the fork marks or just let them crack naturally. As you can see, I did both.


They're so delicious! We only have a few left and I'm sure they'll be gone by the end of the day!

I'm off to play with my baby girl who is ready for some mommy and me time! Enjoy your FriYaY and have a wonderful (hopefully sunny) weekend!

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Thursday, April 21, 2016

10 Steps to Throwing the Best Brunch Baby Shower!


1. Gather the mommy-to-be's closest friends and family members to host an awesome shower. We had 5 women and it was a great number. Enough to split the costs and tasks nicely, but not too many so that coordination is hard.


2. Create a Pinterest board for everyone to contribute ideas to. This was one of the first things we did to start planning. It allowed us to share ideas we had with one another and match together the ideas that worked. I also was able to show Alison {our mommy-to-be} what we were thinking to make sure they fell in line with what she envisioned for a perfect shower. This really helped us when it came time for step number 4!

3. Find the perfect location to host the shower. We were fortunate enough to have Alison's mother-in-law, Susan, as a shower host who graciously offered up her home. Y'all, her home is gorgeous! It was the perfect place for a shower. It wasn't open, not too crowded, had plenty of seating and places to set plates & drinks down. We couldn't have asked for a better location.

4. Create a to do list and allow people to offer to do certain tasks that best fit their skills or ability. {Based on location, schedule and what not.} After allowing everyone to pin creative thoughts, it gives an idea of who might do what. Laying out what tasks need to be completed helps to start determining who should do what. Some main assignments are: invitations, food, drinks, games, decorations, specialty items {cake, diaper cake, diaper raffle, etc.We had a shower host that lives in San Fransisco, so she was in charge of invites since she was farther away. She had clearly done it a time or two; prettiest invites ever! We also had a host who provided games for another shower, so it was easy to pin point her for that task. Laying it all out there helped everyone to figure out what they could do best.

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5. Have an e-mail thread to keep all the hosts up to date on everything up until the shower. It's the best way to keep tabs on who is doing what! With hosts from San Fransisco to Galveston to the Houston area, we needed a way to easily stay in touch with each other. We were able to discuss our Pinterest ideas, assign tasks, ask questions, show each other pictures, so on and so forth. I wasn't always the best about responding promptly, but always got around to it when I remembered. I'll blame it on mom brain and multitasking!

6. Choose games that suit the group of people attending the shower. Ashley is the queen of shower games. She made amazing games for my couples baby shower last year which resulted in her title of queen of this department. She talked to me about all the games we played at my shower, then we decided to cut a few and add a few since it was all women and a bit of a different crowd! We played the baby taboo clothes pin game, baby food tasting game, gift bingo, baby word scramble, famous families and a diaper raffle! A diaper raffle is the best idea for a baby shower. Diapers are expensive and it's nice to have a small stockpile before the baby arrives! Plus that means someone wins a prize! Oddly enough, my mom won the diaper raffle! I gave her a few recommendations on what she could use her gift card on ;)


7. Decorate! Decor is so important to create a beautiful shower. Susan and I were responsible for the decor. She had so many beautiful baby accents and touches here and there! I created a diaper cake, bow holder and several personalized onesies using my Cricut! I also purchased various outfits and small baby accessories for her clothes line. Susan had several items to donate to that as well. We had so many adorable little pieces that we had to narrow it down and choose. I think it worked out beautifully!



8. Prepare the most delicious foods. The best part about having a brunch baby shower are the food and drinks. We each had about two items that we were responsible for. I personally made mini pancake stacks and a rosemary grapefruit mocktail. I also brought the champagne because champagne. Enough said! It was even more delicious mixed with the mocktail like a mimosa! Some other items on our menu were scones, a yogurt bar, grilled chicken skewers with dipping sauces, mini quiches, roasted veggies and mini chicken & waffles!



9. Decide who's going to be the announcer. It may seem silly and small, but I realized just how important it is to have someone direct the flow of the shower. Luckily Susan mentioned this the day before the shower! Someone needs to introduce the hosts, make announcements and help set a general time schedule for the shower. Usually if I'm in a group, this is my job. I think it's my loud, carrying voice and bossiness that qualifies me for that one!

10. Put on a pretty dress and your best hostess face, it's shower day! 


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Monday, April 18, 2016

Marathon Monday

Happy Marathon Monday! Today is the Boston Marathon! All I know is that Boston is lucky their weather is looking better than Houston's today. It's 60 degrees, cloudy and getting cooler as the day goes on in Boston. Not bad running weather. Meanwhile in Houston...


It's crazy flooding all around Houston today. We're safe and sound here. Luckily our home is at the top of the hill even though we're only 0.65 miles away from one of the bayous. We'll see what happens as the rain continues all day!

I digress. Let's get away from rain and back to running! The Boston Marathon. Today. It's exciting because it's one of the greatest running events! People push their limits to qualify for Boston. People raise tons of money to get into Boston. People put their name in the lottery for years to get into Boston. Boston is where it's at. Ideally, I would love to run Boston one day, but I don't know if I'll make the qualifying time. We'll see. I plan to run marathons again, but for a little while I'll stick with half marathoning. Half the distance, twice the fun.


I've completed two marathons. The first one I trained for and ran simply because it was the next step in my running career. I had run 10 half marathons before I ran my first marathon. I wanted to see if I could do it. I "didn't have a time goal", but let's be honest, I wanted a 4 hour marathon so bad! I finished in 4:01:51 and it was quite the experience. It was freezing cold and raining through the first half of the race. In the picture above, I was at roughly mile 8 wearing my super cool throw away rain coat. I ended up wearing that sucker the whole race. The rain let up, but it was cold for this southern girl. Best $10 spent at the expo for that jacket! I ran this marathon with two friends from my running club. We stayed together until about mile 18 when we all settled into slightly different pace. I slowed down a bit more than them which is kind of what I expected. When I crossed the finish line, I felt amazing. My legs may have felt like jello. My lungs may have been burning. My heart was definitely pounding. But it was worth every ache and pain. I knew that that point I wanted to do it again. It was one of my greatest accomplishments and by far my greatest physical feat.




Fast forward one year. January 2014 was my 2nd marathon, again in Houston! Like I said, after I finished my 2013 marathon, I knew I had to do it again. I signed up for Houston as soon as the lottery opened! Running in Houston just makes sense for me. I can train during the "cooler" months of the year with my running group that is dedicated to training specifically for this race! It also means I get to train and race with my running besties Chandra and Melanie. Chandra was injured for our 2013 race, but Melanie was one of my buddies that I trucked through 18 miles with for our first one. This year we stayed together through 17 miles. It's nice to have support past the halfway mark because halfway physically is NOT halfway mentally. This race day was much warmer, but a beautiful day. Just a little too warm for marathoning. I finished in 4:03:39, about a minute and a half slower than the year before. I was perfectly happy with that time, but still want to get a sub 4 hour marathon some day!


My marathon running days will return eventually. The injuries I've dealt with during and after my pregnancy has made me hesitant to return to training for a little while. I plan to run some half marathons come fall and who knows, maybe next year I'll be ready to run a full again? Or maybe later. All I know is one day, I'll be training for 26.2 again!

Good luck to all the Boston Marathoners today!

Have you run a marathon? If so, which one(s)? If not, would you?

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