Brew of the Day

19 10 2015

For the first time in years, we found ourselves with a free October weekend! October is usually filled with celebrations of fall – festivals, craft shows, races, and out-of-town trips, but we ended up having the whole weekend to explore the peak of foliage in our town. Normally, I would have been running my favorite half marathon, the Myrtle Beach Mini Marathon. But sadly, the race featured a great white on their medal this year, and alas, I have a huge phobia of all things sh*rk – it’s no joke. So no trip, no race. Getting over endless sickness made us also postpone plans with friends to make our annual trek to what would have been a cold, crowded, windy apple orchard.

Instead, I stumbled across an ad for a local craft festival that featured all things vintage, handmade, and shabby chic – of course we had to check it out! (We loved their brick-and-mortar store, too!) From there, we walked around downtown, checking out a beer shop, grabbing a coffee, and poking in lots of small local businesses. It was so nice to chat with the owners of each shop – from boutique baby clothes to fair trade stores. So much better than big-box stores!

Downtown 10.17.15

E always insists on “coffee water” whenever I get coffee anywhere. It’s just free water in a to-go cup but I’m sure moms of toddlers everywhere are giving him the sidelong.

Downtown 2 10-17-15



Downtown 3 10-17-15

After a full day of gallivanting and an impromptu family photo shoot in the woods, we stumbled upon a pumpkin sale benefitting the church that does so much outreach for my school community – we decided to spring for one of their pumpkins this year instead of a wagon-full from another local patch. Our pumpkin came from New Mexico!

Pumpkin patch 10-17-15

My husband and I both returned home remarking that Saturday had been one of the best days we’ve ever had!

Despite our week of sickness and sleepless nights, we didn’t want to miss out on a single gorgeous fall day (fall is so fleeting!!), so after church Sunday, we headed out on a scenic drive, stopping only for fresh kettle corn and breathtaking overlooks. We originally wanted to hike, but we were just too tired.

We visited my favorite trees on our way out of town.

WHS 10-18-15

Gosh, my boys have changed since the last time these trees were red:




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We continued our scenic drive and climbed all over the mountain rocks! I took pictures in every possible light.

Parkway foliage 10-18-15


Fall-themed blogs are my favorite kind to read – thanks for cozying up to read along with me!


Mad Anthony Mud Run | 4.5 snowy miles

28 02 2015

My coworkers invited me to join their team on a local 4.5-mile mud run, so I signed up back in early December. Over the past few weeks, we accumulated approximately 18″ of snow, so the mud run logo was appropriately changed from:




We shuttled from a shopping center to the park… the bus took us off-roading into the snow!

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We tried to warm up by the fire before trekking to the starting line, but our toes were already frozen. HURT.


The race started out COLD, but luckily the sun came out in full-force just as Corral 2 was called to approach the starting line. Our official race results said it was 9 degrees at the start, and there were 391 finishers.



We started by running uphill through the snow. It felt like trying to run in a swimming pool. Or really deep sand. The course was interspersed with a number of obstacles, most of which were really fun! I didn’t take any pictures, although I wore my phone in my SPIBelt (in a LifeProof case, in a Ziploc bag.)

Battle 1: Tire pit
Battle 2: Tunnel Underground
Battle 3: Hay bale climb

Battle 4: Wall Climb
Battle 5: Under /over logs
Battle 6: Swamp run, river crossings & tunnel
Battle 7: Net Crawl
Battle 8: Mystery Obstacle
Battle 9: Tube crawl

There were also a bunch of slushy/icy wooden balance beams over the river, but the scariest obstacles were the concrete tunnel “aqueducts” that run at an angle under both directions of the interstate and the grassy median, both full of knee-deep rushing water. You trudge through one, run around the park, and return via the other. They are LONG:
The race official on the bus assured us that we could bypass these obstacles due to the cold temps today, but there was no way to bypass them. We had to step off a snowy bank, down into the tunnels. From the website: “Hopefully you survive the fence and river crossings in one piece before making your way to safety through our darkened tunnel.  Prepare to meet your match!  Prepare to get wet!
First of all, the tunnels were mostly pitch-black. I couldn’t see the people around me, so I held onto the wall with my right hand and sloshed through. We were knee-deep in water and I was very careful not to splash any higher than that for fear of my wet clothes freezing later. When we emerged, soaked, the cold water actually acted as an insulator, and my feet warmed up! On the return trip, we entered a different tunnel, and there was a small concrete ledge running the length of the tunnel, so I walked on that, walking my hands along the roof like monkey bars. (It was still pitch black. I was terrified of slipping and falling in!)
Most of the race route consisted of watching my footing as I ran through the snow. Where it had been trampled by hundreds of runners, there were icy stretches, and I fell twice into the deep snow. Every so often, we’d bottleneck into a fun obstacle, mostly testing our upper body strength. For all the crawling obstacles, being short actually helped me because I didn’t have to army crawl or put weight on my knees for any of them.
I did have one really scary mishap.
While trying to bypass getting my feet refrozen in one very wet, swampy area, I was sucked down into the springs like quicksand, engulfed in freezing water up to my chest! Luckily I was able to think fast to pull myself out, only then noticing the warning cones that had fallen over, floating around that area. I was soaked to the bone, through all 4 shirts, 2 pairs of pants, my leg compression sleeves, and 2 pairs of socks. My fleece pullover was quickly frozen stiff. For the rest of the race, I had no choice but to run to stay warm, for fear that my pants would freeze if I slowed down.
Runners who were around me when I sunk gave me hugs later, assuring me that, “we would have pulled you out!” There is nothing like the camaraderie of the running community. They were really scared for me!
Right after that, I thumped a deer crossing sign and then saw a deer scampering through the brush in the snow. Reminds me of that radio show call-in segment. You know the one?
One obstacle required carrying a cinderblock up the hill and back down. I opted to answer a trivia question and received an exemption! So that’s where my running buddy and I parted ways; she wanted to do the carry to practice for Spartan. I decided to save my back, since I had my spine fused when I was 17.
There were several fun parts of the course, like sliding down muddy-snow hills or grand jete-ing over the river onto slush.

Somehow I missed the memo that the race was 4.5 miles (I thought it was 4), so once I passed the 4-mile marker I started to question just how many miles I had signed up for! 5? 6? 10? 12? I finished and accepted the mylar emergency blanket that every finisher received, along with my medal. I had so much mud on my shirt and sleeve from where I had to pull myself up out of the springs. Being able to do 10 pullups in high school certainly came in handy! Although one sufficed in this case.


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I changed every piece of clothing behind the porta-potties – I wasn’t waiting in line for the restroom:


In another near-scare after the race, I choked on my bagel quarter and almost needed the Heimlich. I remember trying to rasp something to my husband while it was lodged in my throat. We finally warmed up by the fire in dry clothes – so happy!


We caught the very last shuttle back to our car and walked around Target in our race getup. Of COURSE I ran into a coworker… oops!

I’m SO sore now – hopefully this kid will give me back my foam roller soon!



Other blog reviews of past years:

Obstacle Racing Media

Oh hey, Friday

20 02 2015

Linking up at the last minute with Five on Friday with DarciChristinaApril, and Natasha, and oh hey, Friday with Karli and Amy.

one | Valentines Day! We enjoyed a Parents’ Night Out on Friday as a fundraiser for a mission trip at church, so my husband and I went to our favorite restaurant downtown while the kids did all kinds of fun activities. Later that weekend, we exchanged small gifts – I gave him chocolates and a bag of TJ’s chia seeds, and he gave me Russell Stover chocolates and a gold Nate Berkus Swingline that I’ve been stalking. LOVEBIRDS I tell you.


We traveled to New Kent, VA to run a frosty 10k “Race for the Chocolate” on Saturday, then visited with a lot of my family. Race recap here!


two | On Monday, I took my infant to his routine 4-month checkup before the snow began falling. His health and stats looked good (once again, 98% for his head – you’re slipping, kid – brother has always been 100%…). The pediatrician had one concern and is referring us to a specialist before he’ll need surgery around his birthday. Trying to be brave about this.


three | I planned all sorts of indoor activities for our snow days this week, some wins and some fails:


Painting – WIN.


Indoor snow tray with sand toys – WIN. And I didn’t have to take the baby outside!


Paint in a bag – FAIL. He was excited until I started pouring his beloved paint into a bag and sealing it. MELTDOWN.


Watercolor coffee filter snowflakes – BIG WIN. Plus, I enjoyed this, too!

four | We played out in the 4.5″ of snow, too. E had no interest in tray sledding, but the baby enjoyed it – he had no choice, since I was wearing him and I wanted to sled!






five | In addition to my newfound love of finding cute hand-me-downs on Instagram, The Baby Gap outlet in my hometown is one of my favorite places for kids’ clothes. The clothes are cute, soft/stretchy, and fit my kids really well. I can find good deals (as low as $1.50 on some pieces). I spent my last snow day organizing closets and tagging all their baby clothes to consign for a sale in March to make room for the next sizes up!


Happy Friday! 🙂

Race for the Chocolate 10k| Recap

16 02 2015

After a late night out on Friday out at one of our favorite date spots, it was time to pack up and get 4 hours of sleep before traveling to New Kent for the “Race for the Chocolate 10k.” We almost didn’t go, but I got a good deal on my registration through a Black Friday sale and was promised lots of swag at the finish line: a long-sleeved tech shirt, an etched wine glass, wine, chocolate, race medal, and even a rose!


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We were racing the clock to make it to packet pickup, and about 30 minutes before we arrived, my son threw up in the car. And of course, it was bitter cold out. Sub-freezing temps and high winds.We would have turned around and driven the 2 hours back home then, but we were so close and had made lots of weekend plans to see family.

My husband dropped me off near packet pickup in time, but I forgot my ID in the car. Luckily he was able to text me a photo of it from the car, and the race people accepted that for my wristband. They ran out of t-shirts in my size, even though I preordered it in November.


By that point, I desperately needed to nurse the baby, so I ducked behind the winery on a porch stairwell, the only place not populated with tons of runners.

The alternative:




As I was nursing Sage outside, someone invited us onto the enclosed porch that had standing heaters and sofas everywhere. While hundreds of runners were crammed in the open-air front porch, we thawed alone on the enclosed/heated back porch! We stayed there until the race began.




The 5k runners had a delayed start because of a medical emergency before the race, but our 10k began only 5 mins late.IMG_1431

I started to get a little worried that I hadn’t really trained for this 10k (6.2 miles), just having run 2-3 mile stretches here and there since the baby was born, with only one 5-miler in December.

Nevertheless, the first mile was a breeze. It felt good to warm up and run after riding in the car all morning. It was crowded at the beginning and the dirt path had lots of grooves I had to be careful about.


Then it switched to pavement as we wound through the winery property, roundabouts, and ritzy neighborhood. After the first mile, I actually felt pretty hot and regretted the extra fleece I was wearing and the handwarmers I had tucked into my gloves.

The first water stop had one man hurriedly filling water cups, but he was so behind and had no help!

I hit a slump around Mile 3-4 but picked up again at 4, knowing we were almost finished. I passed the second (and final) water stop, but they were out of water. I was upset about this because I am a nursing mommy who needs to stay hydrated! I didn’t carry water with me because the course promised 2 water stops. I texted my husband at miles 4.22, 5, and 6 to let him know my whereabouts.


I remembered that a 10k is actually 6.2, and those last .2 miles seemed to take forever as they stretched uphill around the winery building in the bitter wind.


I texted my husband, who was still on the covered porch with our boys. Someone had offered their Lexus to my husband and the kids to sit in during the race to stay warm, which was super sweet, but he stayed on the porch, and E watched me finish from the window:


I sprinted through to the finish and felt dizzy for a few moments after crossing. It was all very anti-climactic after that. At least I was smiling as I was handed my medal, still in its Ziploc package from shipment.


I had to search for water and finally found abandoned pallets of mostly-frozen bottles.

Chocolate 1

I immediately got in a line for what I assumed was the rest of our race swag and overheard pretty quickly that they had run out of roses and chocolates. I stayed in line anyway, just in case. Most of these photos were taken by the race officials:

Chocolate 6

Chocolate 7

It was while waiting in the first line that I met someone who recognized me from my blog! It was definitely the highlight of the race for me – I was so excited to meet someone who’s been following my blog since my Disney guest post on Running at Disney recapping the 2014 marathon. I just wish I had asked you your name… and where you’re from… and how you liked your first Disney Marathon! (Feel free to answer in the comments!) I hope you are all thawed-out from Saturday’s race, just in time for the snow. Brrrrr…  

I picked up my tray with almond Biscotti, 2 chocolates, and some heart-shaped marshmallows. The rumors were true; there were no more roses for finishers.

Chocolate 3

Chocolate 2

Chocolate 4

The wine glasses were printed with the name of the winery, although the race advertisement featured the 2013 race glasses etched with the name of the race. Once I passed through the line, my husband joined me in the second line with the boys for wine-tasting. My infant was in the Ergo, nice and warm, but my toddler was miserably cold. I handed him the marshmallows.


IMG_1392The wine-tasting was sooo brief, but it was in that tent that we found the bananas. They were so cold that biting into mine made E cry and throw it to the ground.

Chocolate 5

We wanted to get the wood-fired pizza and crepes from the food trucks, but it was too cold to be outside any longer, so we trekked all the way back to the car, E sobbing loudly the whole way.



There wasn’t much out there, but we followed our GPS to a local BBQ place. We were excited until we realized that it led us to someone’s private residence – they owned a BBQ catering company. So we found a Subway and then headed off to see family. My parents made us BBQ and fries for dinner, coincidentally!


I will not be running this race again. Not until they figure out how to order the right number of shirts that people signed up for months in advance. And roses. And water. And chocolate.

Five on Friday the 13th | Lucky in Love

13 02 2015

Friday the 13th doesn’t scare me. My mom was born on Friday the 13th, she was due with me on Friday the 13th (but I came on Friday the 6th), and then I was due Friday the 6th with my own son. Did you follow all that? It’s okay, I’ll wait.

All that to say… I’m looking forward to all that this weekend has in store, between a REAL DATE with my husband, a mini trip, and running a wine and chocolate 10k. But first… linking up with Five on Friday with DarciChristinaApril, and Natasha, and oh hey, Friday with Karli and Amy.

one | Valentine Blogger Exchange

Did you get a chance to read my recap of the Valentine blogger exchange I did with the boys? It was fun seeing all the blogs I love come to life as we received packages from all over the country!


two | Spring Teaser

We had a couple glorious days of weather in Virginia (66 degrees!) that necessitated a trip to the playground, a walk outside in balmy rain, and lots and lots of rocket launching in the backyard!



three | Children’s Museum

We celebrated our nephew’s 5th birthday at a local Children’s Museum over the weekend and had the whole place to ourselves!


four | Brixx

We found a loophole at one of our favorite wood-fired pizza places. They offer a free item off the kids’ menu for each adult entree purchased (as long as you have the children to match), so we ordered a pizza for our toddler… aaaand a dessert s’more pizza for our infant. Sooo yummy. And hubby, if you’re reading this, don’t even bother looking too hard for the leftovers. 


S’more pizza

five | Valentines Day!

I finally replaced the Christmas print in our entryway with a fun gold foil-ish Valentine printable. My littlest also brought home a cute craft he made at school!



Happy Valentines Day! And… I’ll leave you with the Angry HoneyBear love nugget my husband left for me to find.


Five on Friday

5 12 2014

Linking up for Five on Friday with DarciChristinaApril, and Natasha, and oh hey, Friday with Karli and Amy. On a side note, my blog space is 95% full… help!! What do I do next?


one | On Monday, I took my little boys on a date to our local Chick-fil-a, where they were giving out free peppermint chocolate chip milkshakes. Yum!


two | We didn’t really do Black Friday shopping – we walked around the mall in the late afternoon and I found a dress (not on sale) for my brother’s January wedding. It’s a pretty jewel tone and had to be nursing-friendly (which ruled out 99% of dresses). We ran into Olaf while walking the mall.


three |

We did shop Small Business Saturday at our local cloth diaper store, although we had to book it from my grandma’s (3 hours away) to make it there! Thankfully, because it is a small business, I was able to call ahead and she stayed open later for me. In turn, I bought 2 diapers, a cozy nursing scarf, and Aden + Anais crib sheets (not pictured). 🙂


four | We enjoyed our first snow of the season – about 5 inches. Thank goodness we had just bought snow boots on our trip to Williamsburg! E was much more ready to play in this snow than last winter – he begged to be out in it all day!

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five | My Christmas cards arrived! When is a socially acceptable date to send them out? They’re all addressed, stamped, and ready to go! As much as I love Cardstore, I tried Minted this year b/c I received $25 for signing up via a friend’s link and then had a coupon code + free shipping. The cards are super-thick and came in fun packaging! The colors are bright and printing is clear. I might be hooked! They miiiight have sent me several other people’s cards, but those were fun to look thru, too! 😉 Want to design your own? If you use my link, we’ll both get a $25 credit!



Happy Friday! I’m off to run 5 miles in and around Busch Gardens ChristmasTown! 🙂

Winter Traditions

3 12 2014

I’m revisiting my winter bucket list from 2013 and thinking about what is different this year now that we are a family of 4! I hope that many of the traditions will stay the same, but we will add in a few new ones. And I’m certainly not running the Disney marathon this year. Instead, my little brother gets married that day!!

Winter Festivities list 2013

We’ve had our first snow of the season and built a snowman. We’ve made lots of new ornaments (many not pictured). The baby sat in my lap while I sewed him this fox:

2014 Sage ornament

11-18-14 photo strip ornament

On the first day of December, the boys got in matchy-matchy Christmas PJs, sat on a blanket, read Christmas books, and tried out our new Advent calendar. This might have to become a new tradition!


Dec 1 tradition 2014




I’m obsessed with Christmas pajamas. The boys have enough to wear year-round at this point, and they probably will!


Hanging lights outside… driving to see lights… and a light display at our local park.

Elijah - lights 2014

Elijah - lights 2014 - 2

Watching Christmas Vacation (obviously). 

{Free} peppermint chocolate chip milkshakes at Chick-fil-a might have to join the list:



We are looking forward to the candlelight service at church, running a 5-miler through Busch Gardens ChristmasTown, baking cookies with grandparents, and our gingerbread house-decorating PJ party! There is so much to celebrate this season, but I hope that we can help our boys to hear more about Jesus through it all.

Five on Friday | Holiday Prep

21 11 2014

I’m spending the week holed up in a luxury hotel with my sweet family for a work conference, followed by outlet shopping with my mom! All while wearing my newborn in my Boba 3G carrier. Poor me. Now let’s link up for Five on Friday with DarciChristinaApril, and Natashaoh hey, Friday with Karli and Amy, and Friday Blog Hop!

one | Emily Ley’s recent “make things happen” post made me consider how holiday activities don’t just always happen – they might require simple planning. So on Monday – a cold, rainy day – I was intentional about my time with the boys. We spent the morning making gingerbread playdough together! A basic rolling pin, cookie cutters, and plastic knives (along with ingredients we already had) were all we needed to make memories together.

11-17-14 gingerbread play dough

two | Also in a “Make it Monday” kind of mood, I made this loaded potato soup with my 2-year-old. It was so perfect for a day with temps maxing out in the 30s. It was a little involved for being a crockpot recipe, but it was worth it! I love that we’re raising him to love helping out in the kitchen, doing things alongside us. Even if he won’t try anything we make!

11-17-14 loaded potato soup

three | Photo-strip ornaments Since we’ll be traveling in the near future, we’ve already decorated our Christmas tree, which made me realize just how many ornaments we have for E. I need to step up my game for baby S! We made fun photo-strip ornaments on Tuesday. (I made several of these after E was born to give as gifts.)

11-18-14 photo strip ornament

Photostrips // Wal-Mart. Colorful paper//CardStore packaging material.

four | Online Christmas shopping This has been my lifesaver this holiday season. It’s so much easier to browse when I get a chance, rather than carting a potty-training-toddler and a newborn aimlessly around a store. (Relive that experience with me here.) Plus I can get more Ebates, eBay bucks, and Amazon credits by purchasing online. And free boxes. Even though we’re keeping gifts simple with our boys this season (want/need/wear/read), I’ve been having fun following eBay and Instagram clothing sales and scored a few trendy clothes for E (and one day, S) that way.


five | 15 days til my race and 3 weddings to attend this year! The treadmill miles fly by more easily with a good read and headphones – this week it was  the new Shopaholic book and Florida Georgia Line on iHeartRadio. Made possible by my hubby coming home during his lunch break and watching the boys. As with “Leaving Time,” I also reserved this book at the library before it was released.


Happy Friday! Today is Day #2 of my “intermittent maternity leave,” which means these few days are not docked from my paycheck while I’m attending a conference that my work is paying for. So blessed!

Back at It | 6 Weeks Postpartum

10 11 2014

Saturday marked my little man’s 6th week! It’s such a calendar milestone – I had my postpartum checkup today with my midwife, and I might have gone back to work today had I not opted to take 12 weeks this time. (Actually 14 because of the 2-week winter break that follows my 12!) Baby S has rapidly outgrown his newborn clothes, is exclusively nursing, and is offering us fleeting smiles in his sleep as well as a few genuine ones for kicks. He’s also been out-of-state to North Carolina.

Now that my midwife officially cleared me to run again, I wanted to post some fitness goals. Yesterday I did the most un-noteworthy amount of situps ever. To stay motivated, I printed fitness logs for November and December and mapped out a small training plan for the race I’m running in December. I also plotted out a 30-day ab challenge (numbers in the bottom right corners) – nothing major, just daily sit-ups. Although I’m sure my abs have not quite reunited yet, my midwife did compliment mine today – ha!

11-9-14 fitness log

I also ran yesterday! I started small – 30 minutes on our treadmill with a 5-minute cool-down walk, then lots of stretching. So there’s that. 11-9-14 running

Back to the land of neon clothes and drinks.

I also set small fitness goals:

November | Train for December 8k, strengthen abs, lookup fun races

December | Run 8k, choose next race(s), regain muscle tone

My rewards will be: participating in races, having more energy, and feeling healthier. 🙂

Sweet Dreams 5k and Festival

28 07 2014

On Saturday, my family returned for a 2nd go at a 5k run to kick off the Sweet Dreams Festival in a town near where I teach. (Last year, this 5k was part of my Disney training plan). This year, I watched from the finish line with our 2-year-old and rested my 8-month baby bump while my husband made a 5k PR despite the hilly out-and-back course!

Sweet Dreams 5k 2014

:::The finish line is actually the back of the starting line:::

These unconventional post-race snacks were donated by the local Hershey and Little Debbie (McKee) factories as part of the Hershey festival.

Sweet Dreams 5k 2014 - 2

Afterward, we hit up a playground before making our way to the festival. Everything was free – E enjoyed the bounce house, library puppet show, visiting Elmo, watching the kiddie train, and winning sunglasses/water bottle/bag full of Hershey candy all for throwing one corn hole bag. We saw lots of my students and coworkers and visited some food trucks for lunch. There was one slight mishap when E fell headfirst off the picnic table onto a slab of concrete, but somehow came away without a scratch! Thank you, backwards baseball cap. 

Sweet Dreams Festival 2014

Sweet Dreams Festival 2014 - 2



Hope you enjoyed your weekend!