Thursday, August 30, 2012

Jack and Mommy do the Zoo

My friend Tracey and I are both mothers of three, but today we took our youngest kiddos to the zoo.  Our older kids are all in school and preschool doesn't start until next week so it was the perfect time to spend some one on one with the little ones.  

Jenna and Jack 

I told Tracey I'd take her picture with Jenna since moms never have pictures with their kids (we're always the ones behind the lens).


The zoo really wasn't busy since most everyone is busy getting back to school, so the kids were able to get up close for most of the exhibits.


The weather was PERFECT for the zoo.  It was actually cool when we first got there, but I promised I wouldn't wear my coat and embarrass Tracey.  Jenna wore hers though.


There were a lot animals out and about today including the Ostrich....


.... and the elephants.


Jack is almost as tall as a baby elephant!


We stopped for a picnic lunch along the way and actually opted to sit in the sun.  It was so nice to be able to sit outside and IN the sun.  That's one thing I don't miss about Texas.


Pretty soon we were at the aquarium and the kids got to go through the tunnel and see the stingrays.



Jack kept referring to all the sea animals as creatures.  He'd say, "Can we go see that creature?"  It was so random and cute.

The highlight of Jack's day was seeing the Polar Bear.  He must have asked about when we would see the Polar Bear 100 times.  




I even managed to capture a few polar bears myself.


As much as the kids love the animals they love playing at the zoo just as much.  It was ok because I was enjoying my company and the weather.  Did I mention the awesome weather?






I had such a great time spending time with Tracey and Jenna, but obviously the highlight was spending the day with my Bear all by himself.  I stole lots of Jack time and it was a lot of fun.  We might have to do more of this, before this one gets away full time (to school) too.


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

OnlineShoes and Merrell Barefoot

So I'm pretty excited about this post.  First, because I was given an AWESOME pair of Merrell Barefoot shoes by the equally as awesome people at OnlineShoes.com.  Secondly, because YOU have a chance to win a pair of these shoes as well.  I'll tell you how you can win in a moment, but first let me tell you what I think about MY shoes.  Are these not the cutest things you have ever seen?   The shoes I chose were the Merrell Lithe Glove in Barberry.  


I have worn Merrell Shoes for several years.  I have boots and shoes, both meant to keep one's feet dry and warm in the winter.  I always wear my Merrell boots in the winter to play in the snow and don't even need to wear socks.  The point is, Merrell quality is top notch.  

Barefoot shoes, however, are something new for me.  I've wanted to try barefoot shoes for a long time, but I guess I was afraid to invest in them just in case I didn't like them.  So when I was given the chance to try out a pair from OnlineShoes.com I was VERY excited.  

When I first received the shoes I was so excited to wear them.  The color and style made them so fun and I was actually excited to put them on my feet and go workout.  I decided to wear them to CrossFit. It's important to have a flexible shoe in CrossFit and this Merrell Barefoot fit the bill.  

haha look at the baby foot in the background!  

I wore these shoes for the full hour of Crossfit with no socks and they were so comfortable.  The thing I noticed most about them is that I DIDN'T notice them.  Even though I'm accustomed to wearing regular "sneakers", wearing these shoes felt natural.  I loved them!  Plus, like I mentioned before, I just loved the look.  They were fun and immediately put me in the mood to wear them and therefore, workout!  Who doesn't need that kind of inspiration? 

Today, I decided I was actually going to run in these shoes.  I ran on the treadmill today and my Merrells came with me.  


If you know anything about barefoot running, then you know it's not something you jump right into.  I planned to ease myself into things and just wear these shoes for the first mile of the six I had planned.  I'll admit by the half mile mark my shins were aching a little and I working a lot harder at running than I would have in my regular shoes.

I don't think this had anything to do with the shoes, however.  They were comfortable and I didn't develop any blisters or irritation from the shoes.  I just think my body has to get used to running with the different gait required to run in these type of minimalist shoes.  I'm definitely going to keep working on increasing my mileage in these shoes bit by bit and I'm interested in seeing how they do outdoors as well.

Regardless, today I wore them for one mile and I didn't do half bad (this included my walking warmup).


I'd encourage you to go to OnlineShoes.com and check out the Merrell Barefoot shoes or any womens  Merrell shoes (or Merrell shoes for men for that matter).

Once you decide what you like, you can enter to win you own pair.  All you have to do is go to Style Central at OnlineShoes and vote for your favorite bloggers who lived the Merrell Lifestyle best and, just for doing so, they’ll give you a chance to win a FREE pair of Merrell shoes—up to a $110 value!


Trust me, you won't be disappointed.  So do it.  Click here, vote and get YOUR chance to win a great pare of Merrell shoes.

These shoes were provided to me free of charge, but all opinions are my own.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

How to Make a Decorative Clipboard

Last year during field day I found myself caught holding Nicholas' teacher's clipboard while she was carrying on during the water balloon toss.  I didn't think much of it at first, but then I started looking at it and realized how cute it was.  My instant thought was.... "I can make that".   I tucked the thought away into my tiny brain with the hopes that it would reappear again some day.   

Naturally, as the school year began I started thinking about a nice beginning of the year gift for the teachers.  I have never really done this before, but Pinterest does that to a girl.  Meaning, it makes you think you need to be doing things you've never done before.  Ha!  Anyway, I'm not above bribery, so I figured I'd make one of these clipboard for the kids' teachers in hopes that they'd at least be nice to my kid on the first day.  I kid, I kid.  Seriously though... couldn't hurt right?  

These clipboards are REALLY easy to make and they don't cost much money or time.  

Supplies

  • Clipboard (any size/type will do) 
  • Scrapbook Paper 
  • Ribbon 
  • Scissors and/or razor blade or exacto knife 
  • Sponge brush 
  • Mod Podge 



Cut out a template from the scrapbook paper to cover your clipboard.  All I did was lie the paper on top of the clipboard and trace the area and cut out what wasn't needed.  I did wind up using a razor blade to cure the edges but it's not necessary.



Apply a thin layer of Mod Podge to the clip board surface.  I may have been a little more generous than I needed to be here.  I think less is more in this case.


Position your paper on the clip board and add another coat of Mod Podge (this can be a tad more generous).

Don't let the different designs confuse use.
I made two different clip boards and have different pictures showing each step.  Sorry!  Bad blogger!  
Smooth out any air bubbles (I used a credit card).  I suggest starting in the middle and working out towards the edge.  There is really no way that it will be PERFECT so don't over do it.  The more you try, the more chance you have to tear the paper.  It will look MUCH better after it dries, so don't worry too much about imperfections.


Add any embellishments that you'd like.  I used scrapbook letters to add the teachers' names and cut another piece of scrap paper to add the "stripe".  Just be sure to add another coat of Mod Podge to whatever embellishments you add.




Next, cut your ribbon.  I'd say I used about 5 to 6 inch pieces, but it's really your preference.


Tie them to the clip on the clipboard and fluff as necessary.


I also covered the back in one solid piece with a complimentary scrapbook paper.


Ta da!  That's it.  Easy peasy.  It seriously took less than 15 minutes and I really think they turned out adorable.  Like I said earlier, these were really cheap to make too.  I spent $3 on clipboards, $3 on ribbon and about $2 on paper.  The Mod Podge was $7, but there is PLENTY there to use for many, many future projects.  We'll be decopodging for years to come.  


I added colored pencils, but you could add whatever you like or nothing at all.  I realize most everyone is already back to school and this is probably a tad too late, but I think it would be fun to make a Halloween or Christmas themed clipboard too.  Or just Pin It (below) and save it for end of the year, but then it's not a bribe.  I'm sure it makes just as nice (nicer?) thank you!



Monday, August 27, 2012

First Day of School 2012

Well we jumped right into the swing of things as today was the first day of school for the kiddos.  Well Ella and Nicholas at least.  Jack doesn't start until next week.  I went in to Ella's room this morning and she was wide awake and jumped right out of bed.  She was REALLY excited about going to school.  




Nicholas, on the other hand, was not as enthusiastic.  He didn't give me a problem getting up, but he didn't bound out of bed.  He could just care less.


Nonetheless, I have a first grader.


 And a fourth grader.


How did that even happen?


I don't know what I've said on the blog, but my family and I are living with a VERY GOOD friend of mine and George's named Jami.  She is single (has a dog and a cat) but lives in a large 5 bedroom place.  She offered to let us stay and practically it was the best option for us.  She has everything we need so we just need clothes and maybe a few toys.    It helps that she cooks and is extremely helpful with the kids too.  Ha!  Anyway, she has a dog and the kids really love her.  I told them this is their opportunity to prove to me that they can take care of a dog.  It's still new, so we will see.


Anyway, we left Jami's house to get the bus.  She lives outside the school district so I just decided to take the kids to their normal bus stop.  It's only 1 mile from the school (so no further for me to drive really) and it gets them (and the bus driver) into a routine.  Plus the kids are at two different school so I figured this was just easier.

Their scheduled pick up time was 8:25.  Luckily I'm an early bird and arrived around 8:12 or 8:13.  I walked up to the other moms and dads standing there to ask them what time the bus normally drops off in the afternoon.  Just as I walked up the bus pulled up.  I turned my back to the road to yell at my kids to get out of the car.  By the time my kids got near the bus, the driver had already closed the door and was ready to take off.  The other mom motioned for him to wait and he opened the door.  He said, "where have you been?"  I was thinking to myself, I was getting my kids and you're 10 minutes early.  He told me that normally he is even earlier. Basically insinuating I was lucky I made it this time.  So much for 8:25 pick up.  It looks like it's going to be 8:10.  I don't know what would have happened if I hadn't been early and I feel bad for other new people in our neighborhood (it's a brand new community with less than 10 built homes).  I hope everyone made it on the bus.

Needless to say, I didn't get a picture of the kiddos getting on the bus and felt very rushed, but there was nothing for me to do.  I drove away feeling sad.

The chaos didn't end there because the bus getting home was over 20 minutes late and didn't arrive until  just after 4:30.  I was starting to get worried that they'd been abducted.  Ha!  Turns out, they weren't abducted and both actually reported a REALLY GREAT day.




All's well that ends well.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

NYC Marathon Training Long Run: 18 Miles

Can I just tell you how much I did NOT want to do a long run today.  Well last night anyway.  I spent the entire evening dreading getting up and actually doing the running.  18 miles is a LONG way and I just didn't know if I had it in me.  I know I've done 18 miles before, but I never anticipate it being easy. 

Surprisingly when the alarm went off this morning, my attitude was better.  I woke up refreshed and ready to do this run (but still a wee bit scared).  

I met my friend Tracey (the girl who actually got me into running) at North Park to tackle my mileage.  Tracey had 13 on her schedule today.  Having someone there for all but 5 miles of my run definitely helped.  


Tracey and I planned to run the first 6 mile loop together and then circle back around to pick up a few of her friends for the next loop.  Tracey and I chatted up a storm and I don't think there was a moment of silence for the next hour or so.  It was so nice to run with Tracey again!  

Mile 1:  10:25 
Mile 2:  10:42
Mile 3:  10:31
Mile 4:  9:57 -----> what is this???
Mile 5:  10:31 
Mile 6: 10:30 -----> Gu 

I can't believe how fast the first 6 miles went.  It was like I hadn't run at all.   My legs definitely felt tight in the beginning, but they loosened up around the 3 mile mark (as per usual). 

We picked up Tracey's friends:  Barb, Kristy (did I spell that right?) and Charlene.  Barb and Kristy are long time runners and Charlene has just recently started running and is training for her first 10k next month.  


Barb and Christy kept a good bit ahead of us and Tracey, Charlene and I kept a bit in the back.  I had a nice average pace going and I was intent on keeping it right around a 10:30 pace.



The girls were made the time go by REALLY fast.  I just can't believe how quickly 12 miles came and went.


Before I knew it we were back at the car again and were saying goodbye to Barb, Christy and Charlene.  Tracey said she'd run 1 more mile with me.

Mile 7:  10:26
Mile 8:  10:18
Mile 9:  10:22
Mile 10:  10:09
Mile 11:  10:24
Mile 12:  10:15

 Pretty soon I was all on my own with nothing to keep me company but my iPod and the scenery.


I actually was feeling really pretty good being on my own.  I had a little Luke Bryan on going and he was really pepping me up.  I was almost 15 miles into my run and couldn't believe how good that I felt. With just 3 miles left, I finally began to believe I could make it.

I'll admit that around the 16 mile mark my feet really started to aggravate me and my shorts were rubbing my inner thigh.  I was trying to put any pain I was having in the back of my mind and just get through the run.

Pretty soon I was rounding my last corner and coming down the home stretch.   I kicked it in as much as I could to try and have a fast last mile.  I was surprised I had more left in me to give.   Today I wasn't held back by the heat or by my breathing.  My problem today was my feet.  I'm sparing you the pictures, but I have THREE HUGE blisters and they don't feel fun.

Mile 13:  10:59
Mile 14:  10:32
Mile 15:  10:12
Mile 16:  10:53 ---->  Some fast last mile.  haha

Total: 3:08:19
Average:  10:27



When I got into my car I found this little note tucked under my windshield wiper so I could read it.  It made me so happy.  I swear I have such awesome friends!


Despite my blisters, this run was far better than I ever imagined it would be.  I'm one step closer to being ready for this marathon even with moving half way across the country.  I'll take it!  

Also congrats to my friend Valerie who ran her very first 5K today in 27:25.  Her goal was to finish in 30:00 and she blew that out of the water!  I am so proud of Val.  Feel free to comment and let her know how much she rocks!