Thursday, December 12, 2013

'Tis the Season for a Treat! Cake Batter Fudge

With Christmas almost here, I am quickly giving in to my urge to produce lots of tasty treats!  Last year, I satisfied this itch by mass-producing lots of goodies and then mailing them out to a few friends.  I might have to do that again.

A few days ago, I really, really wanted to make cake batter fudge.  I scoured the internet for recipes, read reviews, and settled on this one, and it's amazing!  If you know me, you know that usually I would never use a boxed mix of any sort for anything, but.... funfetti is my one exception.  No rhyme or reason, I just love it.  And side note - many recipe reviews I found on other sites said that using funfetti cake mix caused their fudge not to set up - I had no problem.  Here's the recipe:

Cake Batter Fudge

2 cups plus 2 tablespoons funfetti cake mix
2 cups powdered sugar (aka icing sugar to my Canadian friends)
1 stick of butter, diced
1/4 cup milk (I used skim)
2/3 cup white chocolate chips
sprinkles for the top, optional

Line an 8x8 pan with parchment paper and set aside.  Combine the cake mix and powdered sugar in a microwave-safe bowl.  Add the butter and milk, without stirring, and place in the microwave for 2 minutes.  After heating, immediately stir and then fold in the white chocolate chips.  Pour the mixture into your 8x8 pan, pressing it to spread if needed.  Add a thin layer of sprinkles and gently press them into your mixture.  Place the pan in the refrigerator for an hour or until set.  Slice into 64 pieces (trust me, 1/64 of this recipe is enough to satisfy a sweets craving!) and keep stored in the fridge.  Try no to eat it all!

I am telling you, this recipe is HEAVEN!  And you could easily get a Christmas-themed cake mix to make it more Christmas-y.

What's your go-to holiday treat?

Recipe from I'm Topsy Turvy

Friday, December 6, 2013

Five for Friday!

A couple rough days here and there, but overall a good week.  Here's the recap:

1. On Monday, my girlfriends and I had a jewelry party... Girl time, shopping, a little wine, and some yummy popcorn - it was a super fun night!  This is what I left with, in rose gold of course:

My locket represents that all you need is faith, family, and chocolate.  Like what you see?  Check out Nikki's page here.  She's such an awesome lady!

2. On Tuesday, I got to go tour my new gym.  I'm so beyond excited.  There are some awesome opportunities coming my way there and I'm so happy about them.

3. On Wednesday night, I was pulling up to the Y to teach my regular PiYo Strength class and saw this!  Made my night (well, that, and the FroYo that Chris and I enjoyed quietly later that night while the kids were sleeping!).

4. My Tuesday/Thursday night crew that I get to teach is just awesome.  They always tell me how much they love their HIIT class, and on Tuesday night they told me that they can tell they're getting stronger and that they love it!  So gratifying!!  That was just wonderful.

5. It snowed last night, and while that does NOT top my list, I DO like that it means Christmas is coming.  I do love Christmas!

Linking up with Courtney, Marlesa, and Cynthia for Five for Friday - go check out their blogs!

And don't forget to relax this season and let I'm Fit Possible know how you're treating yourself!

What's on your list this week?  Let me know!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Let's Talk about Tabata!

As I mentioned in my most recent Five for Friday post, I was hired on at another gym as of last week.  To be honest, this is the gym of my dreams - amazing studios (FOUR group studios!  Four!), a spa (complete with a sweet employee discount), and clients who are there to work.... I'm so excited, I can hardly stand it!

Right off the bat, I will be taking over a class after the beginning of January.  I'm taking over their BURN class, which is currently taught in Tabata format.  I touched on Tabata in this post, but have you ever tried it?  There's even an App you can get for your phone (note to self - put said App on your sweet new iPhone!).... it's very simple - 20 seconds of hard work, 10 seconds of rest... and repeat!  True Tabata has 8 rounds of this work/rest cycle for a total of 4 minutes, but my class is going to be an hour long.  I love it because for the first third or so of your workout, you think, 'wow, this isn't very hard'.... and then the work really sets in!  Those short intervals start to creep up on you and the fatigue starts setting in.  It's such a good burn!

Tabata is a fantastic way to build your anaerobic endurance because it's all about intervals and short recoveries.  Tabata can also be a very home-friendly workout!  Before joining a gym, I'd do variations of this frequently while James played or napped.  I wanted to give you some ideas to try out:

high knees
squats / squat jumps
lunges / jump lunges
mountain climbers
jacks with shoulder presses
plank jacks
tricep dips
planks / side planks

The possibilities are endless!

Have you tried Tabata?

Do you have any ideas to add to the list?

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Happy December 1! Launching 'Tis the Season with #ImFitPossible

Recently, I was fortunate enough to be accepted into a new fitness community called I'm Fit Possible.  What I loved (and now love) about this group when looking into applying is that they are very real people.  They are women (and at least 1 guy!) who are on their own unique fitness journeys, but go about these journeys with realistic expectations.  They don't beat themselves up for some ice cream, or a missed trip to the gym.  They understand that life is so much more than muscles and salads (not that there's anything wrong with either of those!).  So I was very excited when we were told that December is going to be all about their 'Tis the Season campaign - centered on accepting the goodies that come with the holidays and enjoying these things rather than stressing about them.  I'll let them tell you more:

"‘Tis the season to relax, indulge, enjoy and breathe. There. We said it. 
Some might think it’s crazy for a fitness and wellness oriented community to support and encourage an hour of sleeping in, a little whipped cream on lattes and an evening with friends instead of an evening with free weights. Or maybe you think it’s brave, balanced and real. We hope it’s the latter. It happens anyway, so let’s embrace it. We encourage you to approach the holiday season a little differently this year. Let's focus on what we actually need this holiday season. What do we mean by that?

Introducing our ‘tis the season social campaign!

This isn’t a free pass to skip the gym or to morph into a holiday couch tater. Nor is it a cookie eating contest. That’s not what we are saying. In fact, this isn’t a holiday “challenge” at all. At I’m Fit Possible, we are all about personal fitness around the holiday season and 365 glorious days of the year. Here is the “but”. But, if you are going to skip the gym or make a deliciously sinful nutritional choice around the holidays, make it worth your while. Ditch the rules and restrictions you place on yourself and savor every last morsel, take the time to catch up with an old friend (in person or over the phone), curl up by the fire with a peppermint tea, treat yourself to a trashy, gossipy magazine and glass of wine, cuddle up with Fido, go the theatre and support local talent, clean out your closet and donate the items and enjoy every beautiful, relaxing minute. Most importantly, let go of the guilt and regret that swirls once you ditch the gym or make that poor nutritional choice. It’s done. You've made the choice. Now make the most of it. Celebrate relaxing, indulging, enjoying and breathing this holiday season. You work hard and life is about balance. The holiday season is already way too busy and stressful for most of us without the added stress of our fitness goals as well. Care for yourself instead of wrestling your goals this holiday season. 

No challenges. Just you. Enjoying life.

The way it works is simple. There isn’t a contest to enter or any hoops you have to jump through. You do not need to sign up, register or even participate every day. We have 10 lovely sponsors for our ‘tis the season campaign. Starting December 1st through December 31st, we will feature a new product and company every 3 or 4 days. You simply share how you are relaxing, enjoying, indulging and breathing this holiday season on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.  Be sure and use the #imfitpossible hashtag and mention I’m Fit Possible so we see how you are living it up this holiday season. Be sure to follow I’m Fit Possible on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as our winners will be announced every few days via social media.

From December 1st to 4th each Facebook post, Tweet and Instagram pic will earn you one chance to win an amazing prize pack from Somersault Snack Co. The more you share the more chances you have to win. That’s it. We told you it was simple! Remember to mention I’m Fit Possible in each and every tweet or post, so we don’t miss it. We will randomly choose and then announce the winner at the end of the day on December 4th and then feature a new product, with a new chance to win starting December 5th.

So, just be sure to share how you're enjoying and indulging in the holidays via Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, and use the hashtag #ImFitPossible and mention I'm Fit Possible!

Check out our wonderful and generous sponsors:

But wait! There is more. Throughout the month of December we will be sharing how our I’m Fit Possible Community members will be relaxing, indulging, enjoying and breathing this holiday season. Additionally we will be sharing tips from Gillian (, our community yoga gangster. She will be focussing on how to use yoga to energize, breathe and stay true to you this holiday season.

This starts now. Like right now. What do you need this holiday season to feel full? We don’t mean full of stuffing or pumpkin pie. We mean full of love, happiness and contentment. Let’s honor ourselves, enjoy every moment, leave regret and stress behind, ditch the rules and restrictions and focus on what we really need this holiday season. ‘tis the season!


So, you heard it!  Let's enjoy the holidays!  I know I'm excited!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Five for Friday!

Happy Friday to you!  I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Short and sweet, here's my top moments this week:

1. Interviewed and was hired at another gym this week.  This is particularly exciting because it's a place where I really can see building my full-time fitness career, both teaching group classes and working as a trainer.  I can't wait to get started and see what the future holds!  Plus, it's super close to my house, a major win.

2. Killer spin class this week.  It's such a treat these days when I get to attend a class.

3. Both kids had their checkups this week at a new pediatrician's office.  I wasn't in love with our old one for James, so I started looking for a new one and I really liked where we went.  James and Makenzie are healthy and doing well!

4. On a related note, after many, many less than wonderful days behaviorally-speaking, the kids have been awesome these past few days.  AWESOME!

5. Of course, topping the list is Thanksgiving.  This one is the best.  We've been enjoying some great family time, we had a spectacular meal yesterday, and everything that Makenzie tried yesterday was "the best I have EVER had!" in her words.  It was indeed the best turkey I've ever made.  Hands down.

Today Chris and I are going to Pump together, and then we're going to brave a couple of places on this Black Friday.  When we get home, we'll put up our first Christmas tree together.  It's going to be a great day.

Linking up with Courtney, Marlesa, and Cynthia on this great Friday.  Whatever you're doing today, I hope you have a great day and weekend!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Thanksgiving Menu!

Friends, it is almost Thanksgiving and I am so excited!

This is just a quick post to share with you what will be on our table come Thursday afternoon!

We will start our day with these cake batter cinnamon rolls.  We almost always have a special breakfast on a holiday, and these are what Chris asked for this time.  When I make them, I cut the butter down by half and they still taste awesome!

For the big meal, I've been making this apple cider citrus turkey brine today.  Tonight after dinner I will have Chris help me actually assemble the brine.  Its so beautiful and smells heavenly!  I've never used whole allspice or star anise pods, but they make everything so pretty.

I'm not doing a stuffing this year because Chris rarely eats much of it, and neither do the kids.  But if I were going to make one I'd be doing the Pioneer Woman's cornbread, sausage, and apple stuffing.  I made it last year and I could seriously bury myself in it.

For bread, I'm making an herbed oatmeal bread that I've made before.  It's so delicious.

We'll also have corn on the cob and green beans, but honestly, those are delicious but unexciting.

What would Thanksgiving be without a pumpkin dessert?  I asked Chris if he might like something different this year, and he was adamant that he wants our now-traditional pumpkin cheesecake from the Magnolia Bakery.  I've been making it each year for a while now, and it is nothing short of wonderful.  I've only been able to make it without it cracking on the top ONE time, but cracks or not, it is a slice of heaven.

And just for fun, currently in my oven is this cranberry orange bread from Joy the Baker.  I've made this only once before, but this time I'm experimenting by using flax eggs and cutting out a little sugar.  Pretty sure it's still going to be awesome.

Needless to say, it smells wonderful in here.  I can't wait for actual Thanksgiving.

What's on your menu?

Friday, November 22, 2013

Friday Five!

It's Friday, glorious Friday!!

Today will be a busy day - teach, attend Pump, pick up produce from the co-op, and get ready for our favorite Friday with Kaitlin.  But here's my list!

1. I got a call early this week from another gym!  It's a really nice one and, after checking out its class schedule, I learned that it incorporates a ton of HIIT training... so my niche!  I go in for an interview next week.  I'm excited!

2. On Monday, I had to take James into the locker room with me after my class to change his diaper because the bathroom in the childcare room is out of order until who knows when.  I finished changing him and was chatting with an instructor friend, and all James wanted was to press his cheek against mine and let me cuddle him.  It was heavenly.  Oh, how I miss that.

3. Right now, as I type this post, James got up extra early, and is sitting on my lap and its just us and Chris in the kitchen enjoying some quiet time.  And James isn't being crabby for 5:45am.  Oh the random moments you get!  It's so hard once you have two kids in the house to enjoy one-on-one time with each of them.

4. I now have had 2 nights of uninterrupted sleep.  Oh how wonderful that's been!  It could change tonight, but who cares?  The past couple of nights have been awesome!

5. Makenzie wants to be "strong like her mommy."  Apparently, I also make the "BEST!" mac and cheese and the "BEST!" quesadillas.  Statements like that melt your heart and (sort of) make up for those less-than-wonderful moments that involve questioning your sanity.

Linking up of course with Courtney, Marlesa, and Cynthia for Five for Friday - go check out their blogs!  And make sure to congratulate Courtney on completing her first marathon!

What's on your list this week?  Are you looking forward to any fun Thanksgiving plans?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Wednesday Wisdom and Uncomfortable Transparency

Yesterday I went to Tuesday spin class.  It's always a great class, taught by one of the most wonderful women God could have ever placed in my life.  Just like every other class, yesterday was a great ride.  I can tell my anaerobic base is growing back to its Insanity levels, and I love it.  I live for that amazing feeling.

But this post isn't about how awesome Tammy's classes are.  This is about the post-spin conversation that almost always occurs.  There's usually a few of us who hang around after class who have become pretty good friends, and sometimes our chats after class go on for 30 minutes to an hour.  I love this time of community.  Our conversation about a lot of random things eventually turned to body image and our own observations from the gym.  Something that was said has been in my head since yesterday morning and I feel it needs to be shared.

As women in today's society, no matter what, we are 99.9% likely to, at some point or another, be unhappy with one or more parts of our bodies.  But if we are truly making an effort to take care ourselves and we're healthy, truly, what does it matter if we don't all have fitness-model bodies?

As Tammy pointed out from observations we have all made, and I agree, I do not want to be in my 50s, 60s, and further, still killing myself in the gym.  Now, don't confuse my words.  I do still want to be taking care of myself in the gym, teaching, training, motivating others.  But I don't want to be killing myself.  I just want to be happy, loving life!  Don't you?

It's a much finer line than you think.  And I know it well from experience.

It is true that I have never had a "real" weight problem.  However, I know what it feels like to look in the mirror every single day and hate what you see.  I know what it is like to to strive for eating one meal a day and to hate yourself if you have more than that.  I know the pain of comparison.  Everyone looks at a picture of you and comments on how great it is, yet all you can see is imperfection.

And here's a huge thing I have learned recently - I GET the control-freak aspect of it now!  Back in my days of extremely restrictive eating, and weighing myself a thousand times a day, I never understood why people with eating disorders usually said they had issues with control.  I practiced my awful eating (or lack thereof) behaviors because "I didn't want to be fat."  Now that I have NO control of pretty much anything in my day-to-day life, I get it.  When our "big transition" of becoming an unexpected family of four happened, suddenly I was back to obsessively counting my calories, down to the 10 calories of soy creamer that I put in my tea at night.

And that's when it hit me - everything in my life feels out of control, so I'm trying to control even the smallest things!  And for what?  I would never want my children to do this.  I would never let them catch me looking at myself in the mirror, trying to analyze if my "tummy pooch" is getting bigger.  Is that really the most important thing in life?  When I'm in my 50s, 60s, and beyond, will it matter if I had 6-pack abs in my 20s and 30s?  Will my kids look back and think, 'jeez, if only mom had been thinner'?

The answer to all of those, of course, is a resounding NO, NO, and NO.

I'm sharing all of this because that simple statement - I do not want to be in my 50s, 60s, and further, still killing myself in the gym - has been in my head since yesterday morning, and I find it kind of liberating!  I am so hopeful that it could motivate another woman who struggles with body image issues.... and let me tell you, it doesn't matter if you're a size 2 or 22, your feelings about your own body are real and valid.  Don't ever let anyone tell you differently.

Especially with the holiday season almost being upon us, I would challenge you to just focus on loving yourself.  Give yourself a break.  Focus on the awesome things about yourself.  If you have a worry, ask yourself, 'will this matter in 20 years?'  If the answer is no, work on letting it go.  If you need help with this, please feel free to send me a message.  Let's build each other up this season!

Happy hump day!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Time for Instructor Confessions!

In my short time thus far in being a group exercise instructor, I have learned a lot - do's, don'ts, the good, the bad, how to avoid burnout, how to say no.... but sometimes there are other truths that need to be shared.

-It's frustrating when you go to sub a class and the participants are upset that the regular instructor isn't there, and yet... I've been guilty of being a less-than-thrilled-about-a-sub participant.  Few of us like change, and I am one of those who detest it.

-I don't like being asked by another instructor or trainer who I certified through.  So far in my experience, that question has only been asked out of competition and I just wanted to remind a specific person that we both were hired to the same place, so what does it matter?

-I really don't like when people stop to put equipment away before we're done with class.... except that I am so guilty of doing this when I take other classes (like BodyPump).... oops!

-I get nervous when another instructor is watching me, unless I know said instructor and we are already friends or friendly acquaintances.

-I hate it when I try to interact with my participants and all I get is..... nothing.  Come on, people, even if you have to fake it, give me something!

-It can be hard to get excited about subbing another class now.  When you're new, you jump on every opportunity.  Then you (if you're me) have a few experiences that show you that sometimes people treat you like they treat a pregnant woman at times - they speak to you with no filter.  And it can really hurt.

-It doesn't bother me so much now, but I used to get really irritated/distracted when people would come to my classes and rarely do anything that I was leading the class through.  Now I've come to understand that there are tons of reasons people will continue to do this, but I couldn't wrap my head around it at first.

-I enjoy it immensely when I say something like, "okay, time for pushups" or "we're moving into 1 minute of burpees!" and people groan.  I love making participants do something that otherwise makes them uncomfortable - that's why you're in my class, people, to get out of your comfort zone!

-I think it's hilarious when someone says, "oh you teach 8 or 9 hours out of the week? you must be able to eat anything you want!".... no, no I cannot.  I am human just like you.  I wish I could, but alas, even an instructor cannot out-exercise a lousy diet.

To finish up the list on a positive note:

-There is nothing better than someone thanking you after class, especially when that gratitude comes from someone you previously thought might not be enjoying your class.  We all like to be appreciated.  Most of us do put a lot of effort and planning into delivering a great class, and a simple thank you is wonderful.

There you have it - my confessions list - what's on yours?

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Five for Friday! (a day late....)

I at least started the post on Friday morning.  I'm still trying to figure out our new normal.  But here's my list!

1. My in-laws came to visit last weekend.  We had a great time.  It was the first meeting between them and Makenzie.  We had a lot of typical little kid I-just-met-you-so-I-need-to-show-off behavior, but overall it went great.  Plus, Chris and I got to have not one, but TWO nights out.  I don't even care that those shoes were horrendously painful after about 20 minutes.  We were free for a little while, and the kids had fun!

2. I was getting ready for my Wednesday night PiYo class and Makenzie asked if we could practice.  She made me do the power section at least 4 times!  It was fun and gives me hope of instilling health and fitness into her at a young age.  I have an entire soap box of fears with raising a daughter because of a lot of things I went through growing up, things no girl should ever think or feel.  I want to teach her to be strong, fearless, and undefined by numbers on a scale or clothing tag.  Look at that awesome plank form!

3. This week I found out that my Tuesday/Thursday night groups really like me.  Let me just bask in this one.  As an instructor, you eventually have to accept that you can't make everyone like you.  This one is very hard for me.  I have a lot of issues with being a people-pleaser and trying to get everyone's approval.  I told my Tuesday night class that one of their nights with me may get changed up after January and they were not happy.  They said the classes are perfect the way they are.  I also introduced one of my regulars at the express classes to Wednesday PiYo and she loved it.  Highlights of my week for sure!

4. My brother-in-law is in town!  He got in very late on Thursday night.  My bestie Kaitlin joined us for our usual Friday night fun and the 4 of us had an awesome time.  Before bedtime, here's Uncle Jeff getting ballet lessons from Makenzie:

5. These past couple of weeks have been all about, as my friend Kristin said, "giving myself permission" to let go of a lot of things in my life that I cannot change or fix.  Again, as a people-pleaser, that's easier said than done!  But I'm doing better with it, and while that might sound slightly secretive, it has to be on the list because it is huge for me.

Linking up (albeit a day late) with Courtney, Marlesa, and Cynthia for Friday Fives.

Have a great weekend, friends!  What's on your list for this week?

Monday, November 4, 2013

Pumpkin Bread with Chocolate Chips

Joining the pumpkin bandwagon here!

The kids got up very early this morning and were very much in need of some quiet time in order to make it through the rest of the day.  So I'm sitting here drinking my Trader Joe's pumpkin coffee (amazing), and just finished snacking on my favorite pumpkin bread recipe ever.  In this beautiful silence, I thought I'd share.

I even made it a smidge healthier..... really, just a smidge, but come on, it all counts, right?

I used to make this bread all.  the.  time..... so much so that I got really sick of it.  But now, with fall upon us, and remembering my love of all things pumpkin lately, I needed to make it.  Plus, one of our very sweet neighbors across the street made us a lovely welcome-to-the-neighborhood gift when we first moved in, and I wanted to bake something for him and his wife.  So, they will be getting a loaf of this delicious bread in a few hours.

I only made a few changes to the recipe, very minute in the grand scheme of things.  I used flax eggs (you don't have to, but it its half the calories), and I only used 2 cups of sugar instead of 3.  I think you could even cut it down more.  I also used Smart Balance instead of oil.  Here's the recipe the way I made it:

Pumpkin Bread with Chocolate Chips

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cloves
4 flax eggs
1 cup Smart Balance butter (melted)
2/3 cup water
1 15oz can pumpkin puree
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease 2 loaf pans (whatever size, I used a 4x8 and a 5x9 because that's all I have, trust me, it's fine).  Combine all ingredients except the chocolate chips and mix (or stir) on low until just combined.  Fold in the chocolate chips and divide between the loaf pans.  Bake for 50-65 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean, or with moist crumbs.  Enjoy!

I love, love, love this recipe.  Hopefully our neighbor will love it too!

What about you?  What's your all-time favorite pumpkin recipe?

Recipe from Runner's World

Friday, November 1, 2013

Five for Friday!

Happy Friday, friends!

I hope the week has been good to you.  My list this week really should have a minimum of 10 things, but I'm wrapping some together, check it out!

1. We had yucky weather for most of the day yesterday, and I was afraid that we were not going to be able to do "traditional" door-to-door trick-or-treating.  After getting drenched in our first planned location, we put a bowl of goodies outside our door at home and waited to see if anyone was venturing out.  We got a couple of trick-or-treaters and the rain had stopped!  To say that our kids were excited to go out is the understatement of the year.  If that excitement was for Halloween, I can't imagine what Christmas will be like..... the best part about getting out last night was meeting some of our neighbors, all with similar-age kids, and one of whom was carrying around a tote bag of beer - 2 bottles went to Chris.

2. What started as a possible failure this week turned around.  I picked up a couple of new weekly classes to teach, got all of us out the door on time if not early, only to find that my usually clear route of travel was crawling due to an accident.  This was my first time starting this class, and you never know what to expect anyway when you're newly taking over a class.  Fortunately, those ladies, who waited for me to be 15 minutes late due to the traffic, were some of the sweetest I've ever had in class.  Relief!

3. That same night, I began teaching my now-regular Wednesday evening PiYo Strength class.  I had a handful of ladies, and they loved it.  You never know how true PiYo Strength is going to go.  The format is still new to some, and many people show up expecting a yoga class (I had one girl leave because of that).  I nailed almost all of my counts and it was just a great evening.  Instructor win!

4. Random, and not that important in the grand scheme of things, but I got my Starbucks gold card.... I went there so much while studying for my certification, and while teaching that very early Friday class recently, it was all bound to add up!

5. This week was such a week of receiving good wills - when I had no cash for a hot dog at Costco this week, the man behind me told me that the kids and I "looked like a nice family" and bought our lunch, two instructor friends gifted a ton of fun girly items to Makenzie, all of which she adores, Chris surprised me and got the kids to bed by himself on Wednesday even though I should have been home in time to help, and then in the mail yesterday was a sweet encouraging card from one of my dearest friends here.

Our life right now is seemingly up and down, with good days and less-than-good days, but when I sit back and think on all the good that FAR outweighs the less-than-good, I realize how blessed I am.  I realize that 99% of my "problems" are in fact not problems.

So that's it for me, friends.  Pretty sure I could add in another list, but we'll keep it short....ish.  I hope you're getting ready for a great weekend.

What's on your list for today?

Linking up with Courtney, Marlesa, and Cynthia for Five for Friday and Michelle M for Fit and Fabulous Friday - make sure to stop in and see these ladies too!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

October Foodie Pen Pals Reveal!

Happy Halloween!

It's the last day of the month, which also means that today is Foodie Pen Pal Reveal Day!  (Check out last month's post for the full details on the Foodie Pen Pal program, or just click on my badge to the right.)

Super short and sweet today - I'm teaching PiYo Strength this morning, and then I've got 2 very excited kiddos to get ready for a full afternoon and evening of Halloween fun.  But, I wanted to show my pen pal some love.  Also...... the brevity of this post may or may not have anything to do with the fact that most of my box is already gone......

This month I was paired with Chris from A Kitchen Hoor.  This girl has an amazing recipe collection.  Chris sent me a box FULL of goodies, including a candy corn granola mix, which may have mostly disappeared one evening after I got home from teaching a few classes.... because of course I had to sample it right then at ten o'clock at night!  Also in the box - chocolate, tea (love chai anything!), a couple of homemade spice mixes, two little jars of jelly and caramel... I might be missing one or two things.

Thanks for everything, Chris!

Make sure you head over to A Kitchen Hoor - you're bound to find something that suits your taste!  You can also find Chris on twitter @flowerfroggirl.

I hope you enjoy your Halloween!  What are your plans?

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Official Launch of the SweatGuru!

Over the summer, I applied to be part of an amazing network of inspiring women seeking the fit life, the #sweatpink community.  I was thrilled to become part of a group that believes "real women sweat, and sweat hard."  We are a group of women from all over the country who connect in our corner of the blogosphere, rocking our pink shoelaces, and building each other up through blog connections and real-life meetups.  We all have different goals, we're in different legs of our fitness journeys, but our common denominator is that we are seeking that fit life.

The founders of this awesome community, Jamie and Alyse, wanted also "to create a place where people could discover, book, and pay for fitness classes online and where fitness professionals could grow and manage their business."  And so, SweatGuru was born.  Both women had been fitness consumers, and were becoming fitness professionals.  Having seen both sides of the spectrum, they wanted to make it a little easier on both to manage classes, memberships, payments, etc.  As a fitness professional myself, I can definitely appreciate this!

SweatGuru is launching first in San Francisco (where the company's headquartered), as well as New York and Los Angeles, before launching into other markets.  I'll definitely be looking into using the company!

As a #sweatpink ambassador, I've seen the beta site.  I have to tell you, it looks pretty cool!  (And side note, any bloggers you see talking about this today, including myself, haven't received compensation to say these things.  It's just that cool!)  Take a look at some of the screen shots:

The awesome ladies at FitApproach and SweatGuru have also earned some cred - they took first place at the UC Berkeley Bplan competition, were voted San Francisco's hottest startup, and were the winners of the VatorSplash SF People's Choice Award.

So whether you're a fitness pro, consumer, or both, head over to the SweatGuru and check it all out.

Congratulations on this big day, ladies!  I love being part of the community that you created.
that real women sweat, and sweat hard.
that real women sweat, and sweat hard.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Let's Talk About Pushups!

Just me and my pushups/planks buddy

Last week on Thursday at the start of my express sculpt class, I informed my participants that we were starting our strength work with pushups for the night.  After a few groans and probably an eye roll or two, a lady near me asked me if I "got my arms" from pushups.

Yep.  Sure did.  "And you can, too" I told her.

Prior to getting pregnant with my son, I had started to get into strength training, but never really followed a program or had any goals.  After having James, I started Insanity, which does all strength training with body weight.  I couldn't even do a pushup on my knees!  Fast forward about a year later (yes, a year, it took that long...or short, however you consider that amount of time), and I could rock those pushups not from my knees (the alleged "girl pushup"), but from my toes!

And you know?  I own that.  I am strong, much stronger than I have ever been, and I embrace it.

Pushups are pretty awesome because they work just about everything if you're using proper form - biceps, triceps, shoulders, upper back, chest, core muscles.... that's a long list for one exercise move!

If you were in my class, here's how I would cue you - whether you're doing pushups on your knees or your toes... hands out wider than your shoulders, belly button pulled in, butt DOWN (biggest mistake, don't let that booty rise!!), hips up, straight line from the top of your head down to your rear (or your toes, if that's your position)... now, when you are lowing, you lead with your chest, NOT your head, and you're aiming to lower that chest to your elbow line.  As you lower, imagine pulling your shoulder blades together.  Then, as you push up, imagine squeezing your chest closed.... sound too hard?  Lower as deep as you can with PERFECT form.  That's your base.  Trust me, after a while, you WILL get stronger.  You will.  I did, and so can you.

That's my $.02 for the day.  Do your pushups!

So tell me, what's your favorite workout move? - the one that you KNOW you rock and you look forward to doing?  The one you love and your friends think you're sick for it?  I can't wait to hear!

Hope you're having a great week!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Review - Green Mountain Coffee

Oh, coffee.... one of my other true loves in life.

You know the saying "beer is proof that God loves us"?  No, people.  You have it wrong.  COFFEE is the proof.  And I'm not just saying that because I detest beer.

Coffee is there for you on that early morning wake-up.  It's there for you when you need that afternoon pick-me-up.  It's there for you when you meet your girlfriends every Thursday night to hang out.  Sure, you could say the same of beer, I suppose.... though you might get the side-eye if you apply it to that early morning... just sayin'....

A couple of years ago, we took a family trip to Burlington, Vermont and stopped by the Green Mountain Coffee Visitor Center.  It's so cute and operates in conjunction with a train station!  (Of course our son was loving that even at that young age - he loves all things trains!)  I remember what I had that day - a chai tea latte with maple syrup.... it was heavenly!  Already being a fan of Green Mountain, I was super excited when BzzAgent sent me three 2-count K-cup packages of Green Mountain Coffee's Three Continent Blend.

Before getting to the taste, let's just start with the fact that this is Fair Trade Certified coffee.  Up until a couple of years ago, I had no idea what "fair trade" meant.  I'm not necessarily one to hop onto any random bandwagon platforms, but this is actually really good!  (You probably already know this, unless you lived under a rock like I apparently did.)  But, just in case you don't know,  fair trade means that " receive a fair price for their beans, resulting in great coffee for you and a better quality of life for famers."-from the Fair Trade people themselves.  So by choosing Fair Trade coffee, you're already doing a good thing.

Now, onto the taste.  I'll be honest, I'm no coffee connoisseur, but I definitely know when I like something and when I dislike something.  Nothing worse than weak coffee.  The Three Continent Blend is a "medium roast coffee, extra bold."  Usually I prefer a dark roast, but I really enjoyed this roast!  It was smooth, strong enough, and all around just good coffee.  And you know I had to have a cup before running in this.

If you've never tried Green Mountain Coffee, I would encourage you to do so.  You're supporting a good cause in the Fair Trade movement, plus Green Mountain just tastes good.

So, I ask you, are you a Green Mountain fan?  Do you seek specifically seek out Fair Trade Certified Coffee?

**Full disclosure - BzzAgent provided me with the coffee samples only.  I received no other compensation and all thoughts/opinions are my own.**

Friday, October 25, 2013

Five For Friday!

Hello, Friday.  I'd by lying if I said I wasn't ecstatic for you to be here.

Let's recap the week.

1. On Tuesday, I went to spin class.  You may have read about that briefly here.  It.  Was.  Awesome.  I thought I might be sore the next day from such a tough workout, but I just had that heavy "I-worked-really-hard" feeling.  Awesome.  Just awesome.

2. Tuesday just got better and better.  That night, as I finished teaching my express classes at a local Y (think high intensity interval training - hiit - my fave way to workout), one of my regular attendees stopped to tell me how much she loved the class.... made my whole day!  When you become an instructor, you also become extremely aware when people like and dislike you.  I've definitely been liked.  But I've definitely been VERY disliked.... and when people dislike you as an instructor, it's so hard (if you're me, anyway) not to take it personally.  So for her to take the time to tell me that she loves my classes..... priceless.  It completely made up for the classes I subbed on Saturday where those ladies were not pleased with me.

3. On Wednesday, we had our first really "good" day with the kids.  Makenzie likes to check in and see if I'll tell Chris that she and James were "thumbs-up good."  That day, they were thumbs-up good.  Now of course, the same children decided that I shouldn't bask in that for too long, and made sure to put me back in my place yesterday..... but I'll take that good day.  I at least know they are possible now.

4. Last night was our regular ladies' night coffee, so as soon as my last class of the evening was done, I headed across the street to Starbucks for my weekly therapy session girls' time.  Sometimes you just need to connect on a scheduled basis, like any relationship, and as women, I think we need that extra.

5. Yesterday, before I left the madness our house to teach my 3 Thursday evening classes, my Foodie PenPals box came!  I'm really excited about it, but as the rules go, I won't be sharing until the last day of the month, but it was great fun opening that box last night!

I'm linking up with Courtney from Eat, Pray, Run DC, Mar from Mar On the Run, and Cynthia from You Signed Up For What?! for Five For Friday.  Go check out these lovely ladies, and tell me what's on your list for Friday!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Butternut Squash Soup and Giving Spin a Second Chance

After the craziness that has been life for the past week, we are slowly finding our new normal.  Tough?  You bet.  Worth it in the end?  Well, that's what I hold on to.

I don't know about your parts of the world, but it is getting quite chilly here in the midwest!  We broke down and turned the heat on  last night.  My youngest refuses to wear socks, and our (new) oldest likes to wear her cute little-girl nightgowns, which aren't very warm.  Pretty soon, we'll be putting the flannel sheets on the beds - burrrr!

I am your typical lover of all things fall - pumpkin spice everything, chili, apple cider, you get the idea.  I found this recipe some time ago and knew I had to try it once the temps started tanking.  I love soup, and I love butternut squash, so perfect!  And it couldn't have been any easier to throw together.... well, outside of peeling the squash.  I hate that part.  But I will totally go through peeling another squash for this tasty soup!  Here's the recipe:

Butternut Squash Soup

2 teaspoons unsalted butter
garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped (the original recipe called for 2... not enough for me, if you love garlic, throw in a few more!)
1 small yellow onion
2 pounds butternut squash, peeled and diced
5 1/2 cups chicken stock
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cumin
3/4 cup milk 
1/4 cup maple syrup (optional, if you like a little extra sweetness)
salt and pepper to taste

In a medium to large stockpot, melt the butter and add the garlic and onion, and saute for about 5 minutes over medium heat.  Add the squash and stock, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, and add cinnamon, nutmeg, and cumin.  Cover and let simmer for about 2 hours, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat and puree using an immersion blender (one of my all-time favorite kitchen gadgets!).  Add the milk, blend again, then taste.  I like a little sweetness to my squash, so I added the maple syrup, along with some salt and pepper for a sweet-and-savory take.

I love this soup!  It made almost exactly 10 cups, and the best part?  This is a very low-calorie, low-fat soup!  We're talking 130-ish calories for each cup.  It's perfect when I need a nice warm pick-me-up, or paired with your favorite crusty bread for dinner.  Even my 2-year-old likes this and wants a few bites.

So, this brings me to our second topic, mixing things up in the gym.  I used to be so guilty of being a one-sport athlete.  Running was my one-and-only true love for working up a sweat.  Fast forward through injury and exercise ruts, and now I love to mix up cardio, strength training, combine them.... My favorites?  TurboKick, Insanity, PiYo Strength, BodyPump, and this just in..... maybe spin!

Have you every tried a spin class?  I have done it before, but yesterday was the first day I loved it.  If any of my spin-loving friends are reading this, they know that the reason I'm not as in love with spin is because I dislike being stationary when I'm working out.  I need to move, to jump, to run, do burpees.... until yesterday.  Yesterday's spin class was like doing Insanity on a bike.  We did 18 sprint intervals for almost 30 seconds each.  For those last 3 intervals, I thought I might throw up.

In case you're wondering, that's a good thing.  I love being pushed to my limits.

I had a conversation with my spin-loving friends after Friday's BodyPump class about the benefits of releasing aggression into the bike.  I really hadn't thought of that for a bike.  Usually I would liken that to punching or kicking, but yesterday, I warned that bike, and we had the best ride.  We poured buckets of sweat, screamed, wanted to puke, and it was awesome.

That's my two cents on giving something a chance in the gym that you may previously have written off.  I can't wait for next week!

What's a workout that you have tried that you previously didn't enjoy or didn't want to try that now you're into?

Recipe slightly adapted from On Fire Fitness

Friday, October 18, 2013

Five for Friday!

It's Friday!  And I missed my usual Thankful Thursday post.  So, in the spirit of always wanting to remember to count my blessings, I decided to do my first Five for Friday post.  So here goes, short and sweet, because that's about all I have time for, at least for now:

1. We are now a family of 4.  Unless we're Facebook friends, or we know each other in real life, that will come as a shock to you.  I will explain in more detail later, but related to my most recent Thankful Thursday, we have added my 6-year-old niece Makenzie to our family.  There's no point in spending time telling you how difficult life can be right now - I'd rather be thankful!  Yes, it is hard, but I have not 1, but 2 children to love on and take care of now - 2 little sweethearts who need so much love and we're ready to give it.

2. I got chosen to be an IDEA Inspired Blogger!  I'm super excited!  Again, more details later.

3. I ran the Run For Your Lives Zombie Run 5K this past Saturday, and it was one of the greatest thrills!  I almost made it out a survivor.  They got me right at the end.  Great fun, and worth every penny!  Plus, I only got electrocuted once.  I might do a recap soon.

4. It isn't happening until tonight, but one of my dearest besties Kaitlin is coming over and bringing us dinner as if we just had a new baby.  I'm so excited!  It is always such a treat to have a meal made for me.... which isn't a dig at my husband - I love to make our meals!  But, it IS nice to have someone treat you occasionally.  I so heart you Kaitlin.

5. This past week, when we were in Texas picking up the newest member of our family, I got to see an old friend from our time in Canada - she's since had a second baby, and I hadn't seen her since April 2012.  Amber, you're such a strong, beautiful mommy, and even though we had about 3 minutes together, I loved getting to see you.

So there are the highlights!  I have so many posts in the works, I'm just playing catch-up from the craziness (but awesomeness) that has been our life lately.  I DID get to attend BodyPump today and have my you-know-what handed to me and it. felt. amazing.  I have learned that if I channel a lot of .... let's just say pent-up emotion.... I can do tricep pushups on my toes.  Beast mode, baby!

I'm linking up for the first time with Courtney over at Eat, Pray, Run DC.  Make sure and go check out her blog - she makes me miss DC so much, plus she's just a cool girl.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Thankful Thursday.... Just Thankful...You Know Who You Are

You know, I had not intended to be away from the blogosphere for an entire week.  I was all set to go back to regular blogging, but then some Life happened.  In a big way.

However, this post is not about throwing a poor-Elizabeth party.  It's about celebrating the fact that although this past week has been nothing short of an emotional roller-coaster with more lows than highs, it has also been a reminder to remember how blessed we are.  For starters, Chris got to go back to work this week and we get to look forward to full back-pay for the time he was off.  Our pay will be a little off-balance for a month or so, but we will be paid, so that was fantastic news.

Not to be super-secretive, but we have only discussed this big Life Happening with a few people, and I'm going to wait until next week to share the full spectrum (to clear most initial thoughts, I am not pregnant, we are not getting divorced, we are not moving, no one's having surgery, and no one's dying).  Sharing tends to go one of two ways.  This post is about the first way it goes, and involves being thankful for some very specific people.

To the woman who is my St. Louis mother, mentor, and confidant, I am so thankful for you.  When I need spiritual wisdom, inspiration, or a reality check to take it easy on myself, you are there for me.  You aren't afraid to tell me something I might not want to hear.  You speak the Truth.  You have a heart and soul that I can only hope to emulate.  You know who you are.

To my dear friend who only needed me to say a few words to know what I was calling to tell her, I am so thankful for you.  How we ended up in each others' lives would seem like quite a coincidence to some, but we know better.  God sure works in interesting ways.  I might even eventually love this city because of your love for it.  You know who you are.

To the friend who sat by my side last night, hugged me, held my hand, and assured me that you will be there for us as we work through everything, I am so thankful for you.  You have become one of my best friends and I don't know what I would do without you.  You know who you are... and if you're unsure for some crazy reason, the hint is "oreos".

And finally, to the friend who just got all of my crazy details today, looked at me with love, and assured me that we can do this, I am so thankful for you.  You are one of the most real people I know, so selfless and loving, and I am beyond blessed to call you my friend.  You know who you are.

And just to give them an extra shout out without actually writing names, these fantastic ladies (with the exception of my "St. Louis mom") just might have participated in a certain muddy event with me this summer.... Just saying.

I love you, ladies.  I truly, truly, truly don't know how I would get through this time without you, and I tear up every time I say that, because that's a huge area of vulnerability for me!  As I told one of you last night, I don't like needing people.  This goes back to a lot of things in my past life, but I just don't.  I don't want to need anyone - because if I need you, then I'm only setting myself up for hurt when/if you're not there!  But what kind of way is that to live?  I don't even like needing Chris, but I can tell you that I have really needed him this week, along with the rest of my closest friends.  And it has been kind of nice to just break down that wall and allow myself to accept the givings of others as I have needed them.

Chris is one person who deserves to be mentioned by name.  His heart is so big.  In only a week's time, I have watched that heart grow as he acknowledged many emotions, stood up to opposition, and just held it together in general while I was falling apart.  Through this crazy week, we have probably grown in ways that it takes most people months or years to get to.  And for that, I am thankful.

Finally, it's not always easy to think of it this way, but I am thankful to be chosen for this.  I have to believe that things do not "just happen."  We are all chosen for every detail of this life.  So surely, if we were chosen for this, surely the reward is great.  Surely, as I have said before during tough times, He who promised is faithful.

To put two verses together, when my heart is overwhelmed, I will hold unswervingly.

What are you thankful for today?

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Thankful Thursday - Furlough Addition

Hello friends!
It is indeed Thursday, and even with the government shutdown, we all know that life keeps going.  For once, I am the busier one in the house, and so I asked Chris to contribute to today's post.  No matter, there is always something we can stop to count as a blessing.  So, I give you to Chris....

....As many of you already know the government has been closed for the past 2 ¾ days and I have been forced to take an unexpected, unpaid vacation. Instead of doing all of the usual government bashing that many others have been doing, I have been asked to contribute to Elizabeth’s blog on this Thankful Thursday to discuss some good things that have occurred during my brief hiatus from the working world.

This is the first time I have ever been told not to go to work, and while I know things will eventually get settled, it has been a strange change that I never expected, and am thankful for Elizabeth and the support she has provided during this unusual time, and thankful that God has blessed our family and put us in a position that we will be alright during this time of upheaval, though hopefully it will end shortly and everyone can go back to work and back to their normal lives.

During the past few days I have been very thankful for family time. Over the past three days, I have been able to spend more time with Elizabeth and James and that is something that I have missed with our busy schedules. I feel like I have been able to spend more quality time with James over the past few days than I have in quite a while. As those of you who know us well, James is a mom-first kind of guy, so time involving just the two of us is always something I look forward to, to help us bond.

I am thankful that we have been able to get a lot of work done with the house. So far we have been able to clean up a lot of clutter and place a lot of odds and ends into storage. A lot of these things were things we always said we would do over the weekend; however, when you are trying to squeeze family time, errands, and other things into Saturdays and Sundays, something usually gets left out, and these past few days have definitely seen our house get a lot more organized, which allows for more family time over the weekend.

I hope everyone has been having a good week, and remember, even when things are not going the way we expect them to go, there are still some good things that can come of it if we look close enough.
What are you thankful for this week?

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Oral I.V. Review

Have you ever heard of Oral I.V.?

I had not heard of this product, but given that the nature of my job as a fitness instructor is fairly dependent on adequate hydration, I jumped at the opportunity to try it out.  You're probably wondering, what is Oral I.V.?  From their website:

"ORAL I.V. is a revolutionary hydration aid product based on a proprietary formula of crystalloid electrolytes and purified water. ORAL I.V. does not contain any sugars, caffeine or stimulants, additives, preservatives or artificial ingredients. It can be consumed directly or added to water. Individuals can use ORAL I.V. as an addition to their existing hydration methods and to support dehydration prevention.  ORAL I.V. is produced to the highest standards of quality under rigorous manufacturing controls. ORAL I.V. is manufactured in a facility that follows current Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP) requirements according to ISO 9001 standards."

Oral I.V. is meant to aid in hydration and recovery, especially during and after very intense exercise.  The timing of receiving my samples was perfect - I was about to begin my craziest week of teaching yet, 14 classes to be exact.  To me, that's a lot for anyone, but was a lot especially for me, still a newbie.  On days that involved more than one class, I would add a vial to my water bottle, either before class or after.

The pros?  Oral I.V. is tasteless, odorless, colorless.... I tried a few drops on their own, and they just tasted like water.  Adding a vial to my water couldn't have been easier.  I loved that their was no weird smell or taste.  Another major pro?  No dehydration headaches during that insane week.  And I love that there's no sugar, caffeine, or preservatives in each tube.

The cons?  One small one, and one big one.  The small one is that  I don't know beyond a shadow of a doubt if Oral I.V. is what kept me going that week.  My thirst was unquenchable and I was downing water like it might dry up!  I also tried to get as much extra rest as possible, even napping when my 2-year-old napped, something I rarely take the time to do.

The big con?  Aside from the price ($11.99 for a 4-pack), I feel like the information on the website is not crystal clear about what Oral I.V. actually does.  I said that the tube was like drinking water.... that makes me question if there is much more than water in there.

The bottom line?  I feel that I would need to use Oral I.V. over a very extended time period to know for sure if it is necessary in my recovery routine.  However, I can tell you that it certainly didn't hurt anything!

What are your go-to hydration and/or recovery methods?  If you have used Oral I.V., what are your thoughts?

*Full disclosure - I received two 4-packs of Oral I.V. to review.  I received no other compensation, and all reviews and opinions are my own.*

Monday, September 30, 2013

Foodie Pen Pals!!!

The Lean Green Bean

When you were in grade school or junior high, did you have a pen pal?  Back before the days of email, it was so much fun to send that letter off and then wait, wait, wait for one to be delivered to me in return.  I had a few pen pals when I was a kid, and let's be honest, even as an adult, it is so much fun getting something in the mail other than bills, ads, or other less-fun items.

As a lover of all things food-related, imagine my elation when I discovered Lindsay at The Lean Green Bean.  Every month, she puts together the Foodie Pen Pals program, matching participants (some bloggers, but not a requirement), and then hosting the link-up reveal party in the blogosphere.  You can check out the link for all the details.

This month, I was paired with Samantha from Nutrition to Fruition.  We exchanged information over email and a couple of weeks later, this is what came in the mail for me:

Ooooooh, I was so excited!  First I tried the golden honey almond granola:


The container is empty.  I kept saying I needed to take a picture before it was all gone and then.... oops.  It was so delicious!

Then of course I had to try the pumpkin butter!


I love pumpkin butter..... well, I love ANYthing pumpkin, but I do adore pumpkin butter, and this did not disappoint.  I do still have quite a lot left, as I've been rationing it.  It's so delicious.

Then I tried this herb seasoning:

I used this on some chicken we had for dinner one night and it was delicious with a perfect spicy kick from the red pepper in it!  Yum!

I haven't opened this bruschetta oil seasoning yet, but I'm planning to use it in my first grilled pizza attempt this week.  I'm certain it will be delicious!


Finally, every Foodie Pen Pals package is to contain something written.  Samantha wrote me a very lovely message in a card:

This was such a great experience.  Everything that Samantha sent me was from her local farmer's market, which is pretty cool, plus I made a new blogger friend!  You don't have to be a blogger to participate though, so if you're interested, check out this link for more details.  Also, be sure to check out Samantha's blog.  Her tone is really funny (read her post on Dr. Oz) and I think she and I could be friends in real life.

I'm looking forward to next month!  Have you ever participated in a foodie exchange?

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Thankful Thursday - A Much Needed Mini-Vacation

A week ago today we were enjoying beautiful Minnesota.  I had no idea how badly we needed a small getaway and time with family - so thankful that this beautiful couple had a wedding planned, providing that perfect break!

Chris's cousin Bobby and his beautiful wife Amber

I'm also so thankful that James is such a rockstar traveler.  We have taken that kid EVERYWHERE.  In a car.

A picture from the groom's dinner, the night before the wedding:

Chris's mom Cindy on the left and Aunt Marlene on the right.  Love these ladies.

Look at my adorable baby.... I mean big boy... on the day of the wedding at the church:

James spent the entire reception playing and dancing with a 4-year-old little girl.  It was hilarious.  He wanted nothing to do with dancing with the grown-ups, just his older woman girlfriend.

Some fun post-wedding pictures:

This is one of the best cake face pictures ever

Gorgeous cousin Andrea, due with her first baby next month, still looking amazing

Whole family, pretty attractive crew

Uncle Jeff, Chris, James, me, Grandma Cindy and Papa Jim

Such a great night!  My calves were sore for about 3 days from dancing all.  night.  long.  We had planned to get up and be out the door on the road home around 7am the next morning...... That didn't happen.  More like around 11am.  But that's fine.  It was a beautiful wedding, and an all-around great time with family.  We could not have asked for nicer weather, which was an extra added bonus.

And as much as I love teaching group classes, it was pretty nice to take a break and not have to be "on" for anyone.  I did PiYo on the deck a couple of times, went for a run with Chris's mom, and went to Silver Sneakers with Chris's Aunt Jean (side-note, those people really work in that class!  My triceps were sore for 2 days!).

So thankful for this group.  At the end of the day, no matter what, they all love each other and truly love being together.  James will always know this love and that is priceless.