Friday, June 28, 2013

Health & Fitness Friday: Staying Cool When Exercising in the Heat

Happy Friday Peeps!! It's time for

It feels like only yesterday that I was whining on Health & Fitness Friday about our never-ending winter. I was complaining about the cold and snow and the fact that I had to wear 20 layers just to go 3 miles. All I wanted was the sun.

So now that the sun is finally HERE...I shouldn't be complaining, right?

Well...if you are a runner/walker/outdoor exerciser, you know it's hard not to complain in any weather extreme. We bitch when it's too cold and bitch when it's too hot because both temperature extremes mean one thing...


It's actually pretty amazing what some of us will do to NOT have to run on the treadmill. We will run in snow boots and a parka in the winter, and we will wear things like becool bands...


Or even this darling little cooling vest...


All so we can stay outside and beat the heat.

These gadgets seem great and I really wish I would have known about an ice vest BEFORE the Rock-n-Roll Half Marathon last year. But if running with ice vests, scarves and wristbands isn't your thing, there are some other useful tips for beating the heat this summer. Here is a super funny (but practical) list from Shut up and Run, but overall...the tips seem to be the same no matter where you go. To beat the heat on your summer runs/walks, you should:

1. Stay hydrated (most important rule of all).
2. Exercise early in the morning or late in the evening.
3. Wear a hat or visor.
4. Pick a trail with shade (not to be confused with a "shady" trail).
5. Wear light clothing (or run Nakie)

I did the best I could to beat the heat with all of these tips and tricks but I still couldn't hang. I had to run on the treadmill and it was just as boring as I remember.


 I set out for the third time to run 50 miles in a month and I am only 10 miles away!! Sure...I only have 3 days to get in those 10 miles but damn it...I am going to do it! I am so close I can feel it!! How is everyone else doing with their June Fitness goals??!!

Next up...let's talk a little bit about HEALTH.

Over the next two weeks, I am really going to be putting some of those "healthy BBQ" tips from last week to good use. Between camping and family BBQs, it's going to be a non stop chow fest around here. But if I know there is going to be and endless amount of crappy food at these shindigs, then I need to make my dish to pass a little healthier. One of my favorite healthy apps to make lately (thanks to my mother-in-law) is this Black Bean and Corn Dip, which some people call Texas Caviar.

So. Freaking. Delicious.

Here is what you need to make it:

1 Red Pepper, chopped
1 Red Onion, chopped
3 Avocados, chopped
1 can of Rotel (drained)
1 can of Sweet Corn (drained)
1 can of Black Beans (drained and rinsed)
1 packet of Dry Italian Dressing Mix

Mix all ingredients together and chill in the fridge. You can serve it with Tortilla chips or just eat it as a salad! Eric and I like to take our leftovers of this dip and put it on grilled chicken breasts with a little pepperjack cheese. Like I freaking delicious!!

Alright guys, that's all I have for today!!! I hope you all have an AMAZING 4th of July week!!!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Baby Food Isn't Just for Babies: An Ella's Kitchen Review & Giveaway

When my friends over at Ella's Kitchen offered to send some of their delicious products to my kiddos for a taste-test, I was a little confused at first. We are long past the baby food stage in our house I knew that there was no way I would get my picky eaters to down a bowl of purred veggies and meat.

But then they asked if my kids loved smoothies and I couldn't shout YES!!!! fast enough. I don't know about your kids, but mine live for smoothies and any snack that they can grab on the run. This summer, we are back and forth from the park, the splash pad, t-ball practice, camp, you name I like to keep some easy snacks on hand. When Ella's kitchen sent me some of their smoothies, I tossed two of The Yellow Ones in my purse.

the Green Onethe Purple Onethe Yellow Onethe Red One

After TWO HOURS at the park that day, the kids were dying for a snack and I thought it was the perfect time to give these a try. Do you think they liked them?

I am not kidding when I say that Blake literally slurped every last drop and begged for a second when it was finished. 

Since they were still hungry, I thought we would also try some of Ella's Nibbly Fingers

apples + strawberries nibbly fingersmangoes + carrots nibbly fingers

We tried the apples and strawberries and again...the kids devoured them!!!

What a perfect, nutritious afternoon snack! 

It has been so long since I've been down the baby food isle at our store and what I miss most about that isle are all the options for Organic snacks. Now I know of TWO delicious, organic snacks that I can by for my kids at any age. How great will these be for packed lunches?!!

So I have some great news for all of you...Ella's Kitchen is letting me giveaway a sample pack to one lucky reader!!!! So whether you have babies, toddlers or preschoolers like me...there is something for everyone to try!!! You have 3 chances to win...and because my Rafflecopter widget STILL won't work, we will have to do this the old school way. To win, leave a SEPARATE COMMENT for each of these three entires:

1. Visit Ella's Kitchen and leave a comment letting us know which product you think your kiddo will be most excited to try.

And that's it!! A winner will be selected on July 5th.

A BIG THANKS to Ella's Kitchen for letting us try their goodies!!! You definitely have two new fans!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Free 4th of July Printable Treat Tags & Inspiration

Whenever the 4th of July rolls around, I can only think one thing...


Sorry...did that just stress anyone out? If're on the wrong blog. Ha! 

But before I totally jump the gun and stat sharing all of my Christmas printables, I thought I would stick with the current holiday and celebrate the beautiful U.S.A. with some fun patriotic treat tags!!

These tags were a big hit last year when I used them as cupcake toppers, and I may do the same now that I found the Pillsbury Starts & Stripes cake mix and frosting!! YUM-O!!

But if you are looking for something a little different (and easier to transport), try one of these treats fun treats! I love these classic (SUPER EASY) rice crispy treats on a stick...

Sparklin' Marshmallow Crispy Treats recipe

Or these adorable Patriotic Oreo Pops...

Or these Chocolate Chip Fro-Yo Sandwiches from Skinnytaste...

Or my favorite, this Red, White & Blue popcorn!!

How cute (and simple) to make a big batch of this popcorn, tie it up in some plastic treat sacks with raffia and one of my tags! Boom! Perfect for any fireworks show :-)

So...does anyone have any fun plans for the 4th this year? We will be spending time doing our most favorite thing in the world...CAMPING!!!!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Dealing With a Stage 5 Clinger: The Second Time Around

There are so many days that I forget that my outgoing, adventurous, independent little girl was once a Stage 5 Clinger just like her brother. I think it's because I've tried my hardest to block out that first year of dance when Addie cried for me EVERY class. If you've read my blog for a while, you may even remember Addie going through this and how hard it was on both of us. I was scared to death for preschool and pictured her clinging to my leg screaming at the front door.

Except that didn't happen. Addie's first day of preschool was like a dream. She smiled, hopped out of the car, hugged her new teacher and never looked back. Addie has never cried a single day in dance, preschool or any other activity since then and some days, I can't even get her to come home with me! I can't even describe how wonderful it is to see her enjoying school and her other activities.

But now that Blake is at an age to start taking classes of his own...I feel like I am starting from scratch. It's really no surprise...I've always known that Blake was going to be a clinger. He's been a Mama's Boy since the day he was born and I have always been fine with that. But now that he is 3 1/2 years old and only TWO months away from starting preschool...I am getting scared. 

Blake is so much more strong-willed than Addie ever was and when he doesn't want to do one can convince him otherwise. Maybe that's just a boy thing. Or maybe it's just a Blake thing. Either way, this kid is a tough egg to crack.

Last week, Blake had his very first t-ball class. I thought it was the perfect introduction into a structured, solo class for him. It was outside (his favorite), it was with his sister, cousins and friends and it was only 45 minutes long. For weeks leading up to the class, Blake talked about how excited he was to take t-ball and use his new Spider-Man glove.

I was sick to my stomach the whole drive to the field but to my TOTAL surprise...Blake went right into class. He sat in circle time, he did all of his stretches and warm-up runs and even when the coaches divided them into different groups (and he wasn't with ANY of his cousins or friends), he still went willingly without a fuss.

And then the girl made him wear a helmet.

I don't know if he didn't like the way it felt on his head, if he couldn't see or if he just plain didn't want the damn thing on...but once the girl told him he had to wear it...he was done. The helmet was on the ground and he was running across the field crying for me.

I managed to get him back out to play one or two times but for the most part, Blake had emotionally checked out of t-ball. I tried so hard not to force him to play, but my frustration gets the best of me in those situations, especially when I feel like EVERY parent is looking at me.

So for the rest of the practice, I sat next to Blake on the bench and stared longingly at all the other kids, including Addie, who were out there having fun. I just wanted that for him so badly.

After that first day, everyone told me that it was a good sign that Blake participated for 15 minutes. Maybe he would do 20 this week.

Or none.

He didn't play a SINGLE minute this week, even though I had Daddy stay by the field while I hid like a freak behind the concession stand watching.

Photo: This is me...hiding behind the concession stand at the baseball field trying to spy on Blake. Week 2 of t-ball and the kid still isn't feeling it. Hoping Daddy can work his magic.

I thought that maybe if I was out of sight, it would help him. But it didn't. He still had no interest in going into class, but rather than sit on the bench, Eric took him over to the other field and had him run bases and play catch. Technically, Blake played t-ball most of the 45 minutes...just not with his class.

I cried out of frustration on the way home that day and Eric thought I was a total lunatic as usual. He couldn't understand how I didn't think the day was a success. I just kept saying, "BUT HE DIDN'T GO INTO CLASS" and he said, in his annoyingly calm voice, "But he didn't cry! He didn't cry one time AND I still got him to play. Eventually, he will want to play catch and run bases with his friends and he will go into class. And if he doesn't, we try again."

Damn it, he was right. I knew he was. Blake really didn't cry one time that day and although he wouldn't go on the field, he didn't cry to leave. He wanted to watch the kids and he wanted to play with Eric. I guess that's more than I could say for Addie after her second class.

So I am holding out hope, my friends. I can't say that he will go into class this week, or for the rest of the summer, but eventually, I know my boy is going to get where his sister is and love school and sports just as much as she does. We just have to get through this hard part first.

I figure if I can downgrade one Stage 5 Clinger...I can do it again.


Friday, June 21, 2013

Health & Fitness Friday: Creating a Home Gym and Making Better Choices at Summer BBQs

Happy Friday Peeps! It's that time again!

I found a really fun fitness blog {fitfabcities} this week after searching "home gyms" on Pinterest. I have been REALLY burned out on all of my fitness DVDs lately and have been looking for some new routines/equipment/ideas for spicing up my workouts at home. I still don't have the desire to join a gym because working out at home is so much easier for me. But I need a change, and I thought this blog post was really helpful in deciding what to add to my own "home gym" (a.k.a my basement).

Right now, my home gyms has 4 things:

1. A beautiful treadmill (that I love to hate)
2. A cheap elliptical machine (that I haven't been on in at least 4 years)
3. A stability ball
4. A set of 3lb weights (that I stole from my mom)

Aside from the treadmill, it's a pretty sad home gym and if I am really going to spice things up and try some new strength training, I definitely need some heavier weights and I would love to get some kettlebells, since those seem to be all the rage right now. I keep finding all kinds of great kettlebell workouts in my fitness magazines, like this one...

And this one...

I also have saved some great stability ball workouts, like this one from Tone it Up...


And this one..

Now that our new summer schedule is in full swing, and I am just about to begin the 15-week Half Marathon training plan that I found in one of  my FAVORITE running books, Train Like a Mother: How to Get Across Any Finish Line - and Not Lose Your Family, Job or Sanity I need to get my new workout schedule up and running and quit screwing around. So here's what I have planned:

MONDAY: Yoga class.
TUESDAY: Training Run
WEDNESDAYS: Cross train at home
THURSDAYS: Training Run
Friday: Cross train (or rest)
Saturday: Long Run
Sunday: Rest

The training plan calls for 3-4 days of running each week and having completed 2 half marathons with no more than 3 running days a week...I know it can be done and I don't want to burn myself out. I think I can get just as much benefit (if not more) from doing other exercises and some yoga. I am not looking to win any speed medals, I just want to finish again :-)

So now, more than ever, I have to make myself accountable on this link-up. HOLD ME TO THIS SCHEDULE GUYS!!! And by all means, please share any other home workouts you love to work into your routine :-)

Next up...let's talk HEALTH.

Summer eating is supposed to be easier. Cheap, fresh produce every where you look, grilled food, lots of water drinking on those hot should be easy to stay healthy, right? WRONG!! And it's all because of these three letters: BBQ. Every time you turn around there is another BBQ to go to with delicious burgers, brats, dogs, pasta salads, potato salads, chips, you name it. I literally don't posses the ability to turn down a delicious burger right off the grill, nor can I look away from a creamy bowl of potato salad. So what's a girl to do??

The answer is simple: make better choices. Or, you could host a Healthy BBQ like this one, but who wants to do THAT? Ha! Instead, here is an awesome little guide to making "healthy" choices at a REAL cookout :-)
Is anyone else STARVING for a burger right now??

Nom nom a little piggie with sunglasses :-)

Well guys...that's all I have for this week's installment of H&FF!! Thanks for reading along!!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Our Father's Day in a Nutshell

It has literally taken me the last 48 hours to recover from our awesome Father's Day weekend. In fact we partied so hard this weekend, I actually had a low grade fever last night. No joke.

But my two-day food and wine hangover was so worth it because I got to spend two fabulous days with all the wonderful Daddies in my life.

On Saturday, we drove north to celebrate both Father's Day AND Owen's 2nd birthday!!!

I seriously cannot believe this not-so-little guy is already TWO!!!! He is the baby of our family and he isn't a baby anymore. In fact, he is actually bigger than Blake now so maybe we could still call Blake the baby? Just kidding :-) 

We really lucked out with the weather this weekend so the kids were able to play outside the whole time. We mowed the lawn...

And did some "Hoolie Hooping"...

Watched a little Thomas on Netflix...

And then Uncle Ryan broke out Owen's BIG birthday gift...a mini bulldozer!!!!

Ryan crafted every single piece of this bulldozer and he's been working on it since Owen was born. 

Uncle Adam couldn't wait to take a spin on it...

And neither could Addie...

But the person who had the most fun on it was Nana :-)

We literally had to drag her off the damn thing to go open presents. Ha! And boy...did the birthday boy get presents!!

I think Blake was most excited about the water guns. 

This picture freaks me out a little...

And then it was time for Papa to open his gifts!! The boys got him a cute little mug with their picture that says, "Papa's Best Buddies"

And then all the kids gave my Dad this pic...

It's been a really long time since my brother's and I got a picture with my Dad so I forced the two of them to smile. I think this turned out super cute :-)

It was such a fun day to celebrate. We chowed on Portillos beef, ate salted carmel bars and ice cream cake and drank entirely too much wine. Everyone slept REALLY good that night :-)

And then on Sunday, the kids woke up bright and early to give Daddy his card and this sweet little gift we framed for him.

I really wanted to make Eric a picture like this last year, but rounding two kids and a dog up for a picture is no easy task...especially when you need all of them to smile AND hold a letter. Or in Howie's case, raise an ear and lean against a letter. But I think all three of them did a great job this year. I LOVE how this picture turned out and so did Daddy :-)

After church, we raced home to get the house ready for our next Father's Day celebration. We had Eric's side of the family over for some smoked ribs and chicken and a million delicious sides. Seriously guys...I have dreams about my mother-in-law's twice backed potatoes. They are freaking amazing.

So once again, we enjoyed the BEAUTIFUL weather and drank lime-a-ritas while the kids made use of the waterside :-)

And then we ate like we've never eaten before. It may have had something to do with the fact that the ribs took about 2 hours longer than we thought...but who cares. When we finally did eat, it was TOTALLY worth the wait. Eric really outdid himself on the was delicious.

We really dropped the ball on taking pics that night, but before everyone left, I really wanted to get a nice pic of Eric and Dana with their parents...

And one with just their Dad. I thought this also turned out great :-)

Eric and his Dad look nothing alike :-)

So do you see now why Blake and I spent most of yesterday like this?

Well I hope everyone else had just as great of a Father's Day weekend as we did!!

Happy Father's Day, once again, to all the great Daddies in my life!!! xoxo

Friday, June 14, 2013

Health & Fitness Friday: My Third Half Marathon & The Requirements of a Sole Sister

At this time last year, I was in the thick of training for my very first half marathon. I remember this week in particular because I was about to run 7 miles for the very first time. I don't know what it was about 7, but it just seemed SOOOOOO much farther than 6. Maybe it's because I almost died at 6 miles the week before and I had no idea how I was going to run ANOTHER mile after that.

The night before my run I posted on Facebook how petrified I was to tackle that long of a distance and how I didn't know if I would make it. But then a bunch of my amazing buddies started rooting me on and gave me some necessary pep talks about staying positive, taking it slow, keeping myself hydrated and most of all...having fun.

Dana and I ended up nailing those 7 miles and I still remember how awesome I felt when it was over. I had finished something so huge and suddenly...I felt ready to tackle 8, 10 and even 13.1 miles. I just needed to get over the mental part of not feeling strong enough or athletic enough. It is SO easy to doubt yourself in running and constantly question if you have what it takes. But the more you run the more you realize that all it takes is practice and passion. You have to really love it to get to the point where you don't care how fast you go or how far you can make it. 

But above all else, you HAVE to have a kickass support system and surround yourself with people who will cheer you on and encourage you when you need it. Find some running buddies who truly "get" you and understand your goals. Better yet...find some running buddies that you can set new goals with :-)

As much as I love all of my male running buddies, I just don't feel like they possess the emotional range that I require from a fitness partner. I need someone who expresses excitement in the form of cartwheels and ear piercing "WOOHOO"s. I need someone that I can talk to about poop, period cramps and sore boobs with that won't dry heave in a bush. I need someone who will understand spontaneous crying spells in the middle of a run (from either exhaustion or euphoria). I need someone who will wear a tutu with me and feel comfortable being a "Tool in tulle" (that one is for you Carol :-) I need someone that hugs before, after and sometimes during a run. And I need someone who is okay with profanity and can use it in a very feminine, lady-like way. 

I need my Sole Sisters.

Luckily, I am blessed with many amazing Sole Sisters in my life right now, and one of them is about to book a flight to Chicago because we just registered for the Chicago Monster Dash Half Marathon in October!!!!!!!!!!

Words cannot begin to express how excited I am to have Amanda here and to tackle this HUGE goal with her!! This will be her first half marathon and I can't wait to cross that finish line and welcome her to the 13.1 club!! She is everything I look for in a running buddy, lady-like profanity and all :-)

And Amanda is not the only Sole Sister I will be running with this year. My girl Steph is coming to Chicago for the Hot Chocolate 5K, my camping buddies Jamie, Heather and Sarah(s) and I will hopefully be running a 5K together sometime this summer and if I could just figure out how to win the lottery, I would love to fly ALL my girls from this link-up and LGN board to Chicago to run something together!!! Wouldn't that be freaking awesome?!!! We could have our own little 5K. dream :)

So...while we are on the subject of running, I am happy to report that I am almost half way to my goal for June!!! Like I said last week, I am trying for the third time to reach my goal of 50 miles in a month to be a part of the Half Century Club. Tomorrow will be the halfway point and as long as I can get a nice long run in on Saturday, I should be to 25 miles!! Woohoo!! In fact, I may just run 7 miles again for old times sake :-)

And to my other Sole Sisters Hannah and guys are seriously killing it with the runs this month and I have no doubt that you will both make it the Century Club!! 100 miles in a month...unreal!!!


Okay guys, I realize this is the point where I need to talk about HEALTH and although I don't have any great meal plans or recipes to share, I did want to leave you with a link to something I am going to start making around here for weekday lunches. Summer literally just started and we have already been CA-RAZY busy and when things are like that, I often find myself either skipping lunch (because I honestly forget about feeding myself while I am busy feeding the kids) or I end up eating a bunch of random crap. I've seen a million pins for salad in a jar but this diagram explains, in pretty awesome detail, how to create your own salads and layer them just right.


You can spend hours on Pinterest finding some delicious recipes, but here are few I want to try this week.

Well guys...that's all the rambling I have for today!