Thursday, July 24, 2014

5 Friday Favorites

Happy Friday!

I'm joining up with Fitness Friday at Jill and am jumping on the "Friday 5" bandwagon. Her post was full of so many random fun things, I just couldn't help myself.

Thanks, Jill, for this awesomely random Friday idea!

5 Faith Pins

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5 Running-Related Things

  1. Training starts for the Bemidji Blue Ox Half Marathon next week!
  2. I'm setting race goals similar to my Fargo Half Marathon goals from this spring: A-Goal, B-Goal, and P-Goal (P = preggo). If we aren't expecting, I am shooting to break 1:30.
  3. is my favorite online training resource! It tracks my weekly mileage and keeps runners (and walkers, cyclists, etc.) in touch with each other.
  4. Strength training workouts from are awesome. Carrie has awesome training tips and workout videos all online and free.
  5. Rollerblading with the jogging stroller has grown to be my favorite cardio crosstraining!

5 Picture Stories

Homemade Buns. Why is it that buns taste better than loaf bread? This was my first go at making homemade buns!

Summer Tan Lines. We have had a busy summer outside - lots of jogging stroller miles, trips down the slide, and time spent swinging. I love E's sandal tan :)

Potato Pancakes. So tasty, so easy. 3 cups mashed potatoes + 1 egg + 1/2 cup flour + handful of cheese >>> fry until browned and EAT!.

Throwback. We are enjoying the county fair with Grandma and Grandpa E. I had to place these photos side-by-side: My mom and me in 1988 and, 26 years later, E and me!

Horsing Around. I miss my horses! I had the chance to lunge my old show horse, "Lexi" last weekend. I'm so excited for E to ride horse for the first time :)

5 Awesome Running Songs

  1. Go Hard by Lecrae
  2. Mark My Words by P.O.D
  3. The Harvester by Brandon Heath
  4. Movements by Rend Collective
  5. Breathe Into Me by Red

What's new this Friday?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Signing with Your Toddler

This week we are sharing tips for "Helping Your Toddler to Communicate" on the series, "One Year and Beyond"

Before I write anything, let me confess that I'm not a master of this mysterious toddler stage. With E being only 16 months old, the wild times of toddler-hood have only just begun!

I was hesitant to try baby signing at first, thinking maybe it was just another fad, but now have to say that signing has been a great way to connect with E. The online dictionary at Baby Sign has been a wonderful resource. Their dictionary includes easy-to-understand images and videos for everyday words. Plus, by using their online resources, we didn't have to spend money on buying books or flashcards!

We started teaching E signs at around 6 months and I questioned whether he was absorbing any of the signs we were teaching. Now as he is in the early toddler months, the "hard work" is paying off! Actually, teaching him wasn't hard at all. The key was just remembering to use the signs in our daily life and being consistent.

Basic Toddler Signs

Here are a few basic signs that we use every day. "Milk" and "please" are by far the most frequently used in our house. E has his own special version of some of the signs, too. For "hurt", he always points to his head, no matter where the "hurt" is. His signs aren't exact but the definitely get the point across!

Signing has saved us from some tantrums and E seems to be proud when he does his signs. Instead of screaming when he wants desperately needs something, signing makes him think and ask for what he wants which can prevent a meltdown (not to say it eliminates them, but it sure helps!).


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"All Done"

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And here is another one of his "special" signs: "Share Food Now!"

He really wanted some of the fruit snacks I was eating. Maybe I should eat vegetables more often because he never wants me to share those!

Do you have any tips to share for communicating with little ones?

Linking up at One Year and Beyond.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Yet Another Race + 5 Favorite Summer Toddler Activities

This week, I am linking up with the toddler series, "One Year and Beyond" and we are sharing our favorite summer toddler activities.

This summer has been eventful one and I am so thankful for the beautiful weather! Though I am not a huge fan of 5k's, E and I ran one together last weekend. The 5k course went right by our house and was on my usual running route. Can't beat that! Also, running a local race is a great way to meet the other runners in our new hometown.

Daddy was gone this weekend on army duties so E and I took on this race together. It actually went very well and we maintained an average pace of 7:01/mile to finish in 22:04. That was a new 5k PR for me with and without a stroller!

My prayer during the race was "Lord, please don't let me fall on my face." That prayer may sound a bit trivial and shallow, but God truly cares about even the little things on our heart and I was seriously nervous about falling!

Racing with a jogging stroller takes a little extra coordination, especially because the course took a lot of turns. Since we are a new family in town, I didn't want to be remembered as "the girl who ate pavement in the 5k"!

When they announced the results, E actually won the race because he crossed the line first :) His post-race regimen included playing his toy guitar and eating egg pancake in the backyard.

Mine included stretching like crazy and rolling out my legs with the rolling pin.

Say what, a rolling pin?! Yes, my rolling pin actually works better than the foam-roller for certain muscles. The next day, my legs feel brand new again. (Don't worry, I wash the rolling pin very well before rolling out bread dough.)

Later that day we re-fueled on parade candy. My best friend came to visit and we enjoyed our time taking in the sun and eating our candy, in moderation of course ;)

5 Favorite Summer Toddler Activities

Without further running rambling, here are our five favorite activities plus my our new favorite summer treat.

1. Stroller Mileage

Tired baby? Go for a stroller ride. Cranky baby? Go for a stroller ride. Happy baby? Go for a stroller ride. The jogging stroller has always been a source of peace for E.

E and the stroller go way back! He looked like such a doll at 6 months :)

2. Park Play Dates

Play dates at the park are growing to be a near-daily activity for us. There is no better way to meet other kids/moms and wear him out before nap time!

3. Tractor Time

When Leo is spending long hours in the tractor, we stop out to bring him food and visit. E loves to "drive" while the tractor is in GPS mode and honk the horn! I can tell he wants to be just like daddy when he grows up.

4. Pool Fun

They have a nice outdoor pool in town, but the kiddy pool in our backyard is proving to be E's favorite.

5. Sandbox Race Tracks

Playing in the sandbox is the "little boy version" of a tea party. Either we are making race tracks for his tractor and CAT or he's pouring sand on his head. Personally, I prefer track building.

If you need some extra energy to keep up with all of the summer activities, try these crazy caffeinated chocolates for dessert. My brother bought some for me this weekend and they are really tasty! Warning: Do not consume more than 4 chocolates a day and don't share them with your kids. E doesn't need any extra energy!

And here is a toddler-friendly summer treat that both E and I enjoy - Frozen Greek Yogurt. It's delicious, on the healthier side, and comes in both Vanilla Bean and Dark Chocolate Swirl flavors.

If I ever want to enjoy some by myself, it's best to eat it during nap time. The second I take one out of the freezer, he comes at me like a baby bird with his little mouth open!

What are your favorite summer toddler activities?
How about your favorite distance to race?

Linking up at One Year and Beyond and Fitness Friday.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Developing Spiritual and Physical Discipline

My family and I were battling a nasty stomach flu last week and it feels so good to feel good again! You know something is wrong when I don't feel like running, drinking coffee, or writing.

We had a great time with family over the 4th of July and now everyone is feeling much better. We went out for a pontoon ride, kayaked, and had a campfire. I tried eating a s'more (because those are a requirement of camping) but it didn't sit too well. E really enjoyed camping, minus the life-jacket that didn't fit him very well!

Of course we went for a family run, too!

Over the past couple weeks, I had been developing a new morning routine of waking up at 5:00 am for Bible reading/prayer/devotions, working out at 6:00 am and making breakfast for the guys at 7:00 am (depending on Leo's work schedule). While we were all sick, I fell off the routine because we mainly slept and/or laid around all day for two days straight.

I have been reading the book Every Body Matters by Gary Thomas and the below quote speaks well on the subject of discipline.
"If a man does not exercise his arm he develops no biceps muscle; and if a man does not exercise his soul, he acquires no muscle in his soul, no strength of character, no vigor of moral fiber, nor beauty of spiritual growth."The Greatest Thing in the World, Henry Drummond
If you want to be a better runner, you need to run.

If you want to grow in your relationship with the Lord, you need to spend time with God and His Word.

Positive growth requires discipline.

5 Tips to Develop Discipline

God continues to use long-distance running to teach me physical and mental discipline. As I am growing in my relationship with Him, He is showing me how these principles apply to spiritual growth as well!
For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. 1 TIMOTHY 4:8

1. Make Time

We make time for what we want to make time for. Key word: want. I could write an entire blog post on the excuses people tell me for not exercising. There are equally as many excuses from those who say they don't have time to read their Bible.

When I was feeling a bit whiny about waking up early to pray and read, God reminded me of those mornings that I woke up at 4:45 am to run when I had a much younger baby and was working full-time out of the home. I have always been very disciplined with running and marathon training but my spiritual training was lacking. I read my Bible and prayed before bedtime, but by then I was basically a human zombie. I want to give God my best, not my leftovers.

2. Set Your Priorities

Make a list of what is most important to you in your life and organize your time accordingly. Take an honest look at how you spend your time now.

Does the way you spend your time line up with your priorities? What time-wasters can be cut out? Which activities don't line up with your goals?

Writing this down in my journal has helped me to keep my priorities in check and manage my time for efficiently. I know that God deserves my first and best each day. Serving and spending time with my family is the next most important and running comes somewhere after that. I love running, but relationships are first. (And running with family is the best. Win-win!)

3. Be Consistent

While there doesn't seem to be a magic number of days to form a habit, consistency is key. We are creatures of habit, which can work for us or against us.

I started running long distance about 5 years ago and at that time "going out for a run" was a generally uncomfortable experience. I was entering the world of desk jobs at the time and knew that running was a necessary evil that would help me maintain my sanity and stay in shape. Fast-forward to now and a day without going for a run feels incomplete.

This same principle applies to my relationship with the Lord. The more often I wake up to read my Bible and spent quiet time with God, the more I desire to start out my day with Him every day! Consistency is key.

4. Stay Focused on the Goal

Having specific goals keeps you on task and helps to fight through the tough times when you just don't feel like it. I'm guessing that I'm not the only one who doesn't feel like waking up early to read my Bible and lacing up my shoes to get out for a run every morning.

Remembering why I spend time with the Lord and why I exercise help me to get through the bad days. When I lack motivation to get out of bed, I remember how good I feel afterwards and how I never regret waking up early to read and run.
Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work. 2 TIMOTHY 2:21

5. Save the Excuses

As I mentioned earlier, I could write an entire post of the excuses I have heard, but I won't. Negativity isn't really something I care to share because it is very contagious. Excuses are contagious, too. Are you spending your time with people who build you up or drag you down with them?

"The mark of a true friend is someone who makes you want to be at your best when you are with him." Henry Van Dyke, Princeton professor and clergyman.

What did you do for the 4th of July?
What habits are you working on forming or breaking?

Linking up at Mommy Moments, Motivation Monday and Fitness Friday.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

June Bug Race Report + Win $100 Gift Card

There is just something about running and racing that I love.

Maybe it's the energy/nerves combo or the large amount of bananas present at most races or the herds of sweaty people that love to run too. Really, what's not to love? Racing as a family makes it 110 times even more special!

Leo, E, and I ran the June Bug 10k together on June 14th. Leo even held my hand crossing the finish; it pretty much made my month :) E worked his little diapered rear off as he slept for most of the 6.2 miles in the stroller.

I will be taking it easy on the running for a while as the next race isn't 'til October. I suppose I still run more than the average American though now it is an every-other-day-or-so sort of thing. To switch things up a bit I have been rollerblading with the jogging stroller and biking with the trailer. E really wants his own pair of roller-blades someday. He keeps trying to run away with mine...

Rollerblading with the jogging stroller is the next best thing to running! If you try this at home, make sure your stroller brakes and back brake on your roller-blades work really well, especially if you live in a hilly area (unlike me).

Here is a picture of me biking super fast - notice the blur (or it's possible Leo took a quick picture with his phone and it didn't turn out too well). We got our first bike trailer last week! It is a 3-in-1 double trailer - jogging stroller, everyday stroller, and bike trailer. The trailer has been good so far, though our BOB Ironman single stroller is still my favorite for running and walking.

Here goes my first 10k race report...


June Bug 10k Results:

Finish Time - 00:48:17 with jogging stroller
Average Pace - 7:47/mile
Placing - 10k Stroller Division: 1st, Women Overall: 2nd


The June Bug is a great local small-town race and the 10k course consisted of two loops. The loop was mostly paved minus a half mile section of gravel. The weather was comfortably cool that day with gusting winds.

Once again, I started out way too fast in the race, especially for running with a stroller. Leo ran alongside E (in stroller) and I the whole way and I really appreciated the motivation. Whenever I start out fast, I know I'm destined for a much more uncomfortable/painful finish.

After finishing the first lap, I thought "Waaaait, I have to do that gravel stretch again?!". Wind and gravel proved to be extra tough with a stroller; I felt like I was running with a parachute but it's totally worth it to be together as a family. The two women who were running with double jogging strollers definitely take the cake (I hope I can be that awesome one day).

Mile 1 - 7:07
Mile 2 - 7:31
Mile 3 - 8:16
Mile 4 - 8:04
Mile 5 - 8:09
Mile 6 - 8:19
Mile .2 - 7:26

I did walk a few strides each loop on the nasty gravel stretch though our fast pace in the earlier miles made up for it. Overall, this race was a blast and I am so thankful God blessed me with the opportunity to race with my family. Plus, we received a little prize money that covered our entry fees plus some for a quick coffee date before heading home!

P.S. This race had my favorite race t-shirt design of all time. Grey is my favorite "color", the design is great, and the shirt material is cozy (and they actually fit)!

P.S.S. Are you pregnant or have a pregnant friend? For Two Fitness has adorable maternity clothes for active women. The "Running for Two" shirt is definitely my favorite!

One lucky instagrammer will win $100 gift card to For Two Fitness - the very best in maternity activewear. Simply post this image on your instagram feed along with the tag #fortwofitnessgift and mention @fortwofitness. Include in your comment the item or items you love the most. A minimum of 50 reposts will be required to unlock the prize, so share with all of your pregnant friends, and good luck!

What is your favorite part about running/racing?
How about your favorite color?

Linking up at Fitness Fridays and Mommy Moments.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Book Review: Pulling Back the Shades

Recently I won the book, Pulling Back the Shades: Erotica, Intimacy, and the Longings of a Woman's Heart, in a giveaway on Faith's blog, "Life of Faith". I was excited to read a book by Dr. Juli Slattery because I had heard her on Focus on the Family though I wasn't sure if the subject matter would be very relate-able for me. After finishing the book, I found that this can speak into the lives of all women, whether you struggle with sexual sin or not.

Pulling Back the Shades opened my eyes to how destructive the Fifty Shades of Grey series is and how vital it is for us to guard our hearts and minds from Satan's deception. It broke my heart when I read the statistic that of all American adults who read the Fifty Shades series, 1 in 5 are Christian women.

This isn't something I can write off because it's not "my battle". Erotica and other immorality are destroying the integrity of God's people, our brothers and sisters, from the inside out.

Isn't it time to step up and do something?

Pulling Back the Shades Review

Dannah Gresch and Dr. Juli Slattery responded to the Lord's prompting by writing Pulling Back the Shades to shine light on erotica, intimacy and the longings of a woman's heart. I love that Gresch and Slattery do not sugar coat the truth throughout this book and they flat-out say reading erotica is sin.

I had heard about the Fifty Shades of Grey series at work a couple years ago and I didn't really think much of it - "It's just a book, how bad can it be?". Thankfully, I never read it, never will, and won't be seeing the movie either. Fifty Shades and other erotica are not just "harmless" books. They corrupt your heart, your mind, your home and your marriage.

In Pulling Back the Shades, Gresch and Slattery address why women read erotica, how successful erotica uses the same recipe to prey on women's longings, and the deception that is found in these books. A young missionary and Christian leader shared the destructive forces of erotica in her life and said "erotica seems harmless because it's just words on a page but it brands your mind, creates false expectations for future relationships. Erotica makes it seem normal for us to be used and abused, but it's not normal."

Dr. Slattery noted: "EL James (author of Fifty Shades of Grey) states that redefining morality was part of her agenda in writing the books. In one interview she said, 'What I wanted to demonstrate is that I do not look at the world in terms of black and white - and I find people who do rather scary. I think it's all shades of grey.' Fantasy becomes very dangerous when an author takes creative license to alter moral and spiritual truth."

Since reading Pulling Back the Shades, I have a new mindset on how dangerous the Fifty Shades series really is and how carefully we need to guard our hearts. There is absolutely nothing "harmless" about this! Dr. Slattery writes "If you really want to know what God says, take His warning seriously. Stop flirting with anything that causes you to think, lust, or fantasize about a man other than your husband."
If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell. Matthew 5:29-30
If you have read/are reading/plan to read the Fifty Shades series, I challenge you to read Pulling Back the Shades to be fully educated on how erotica will affect your life and your relationships. If you have read erotica in the past, know that God can heal your heart if you seek Him. We always have hope in the Lord and He won't give up on us!

What have you been reading lately?

Check out Dannah Gresch's post "I'm Not Reading Fifty Shades of Grey".

Linking up at Titus 2sdays.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Summer Times

The June Bug 10k on Saturday was a blast!

Slightly miserable for a short stretch that consisted of gravel and wind gusts but fun overall. Leo decided to run at the last minute so this was our first "family race". E and I placed 1st in the stroller division and 2nd for women overall.

Per my watch, we finished in 48:17 for a 7:47/mile average pace. What that doesn't tell you is that we started out at a ~7:07/mile pace, which is too fast for me and the amount of "training" I've done lately! I paid for it when we hit the gravel/wind hit and I had to walk a few strides. That will teach me to start out too fast! (no, probably not)

After the race they served baked potatoes with chili... so good! Then we made a quick coffee stop and headed to a birthday party. It was a great day!

I will write up a race report after the final results come in :)

We have been enjoying some beautiful summer weather lately.

E and I went to the county park this morning and picked up a season vehicle pass. This park has a 2.5-mile bike path that is perfect for running with the stroller. The terrain is even slightly hilly which is rare for this area!

I thought this "No Swimming" sign along the bike path was funny. Swimming was the last thing that came to mind when I saw that little pond! It's probably full of green stuff and bugs... no thanks.

After a 5-mile run, we played on the playground and walked around the beach. The farm where Leo works is only 6 miles away so I look forward to making many trips there this summer!

Today I'm thanking God for the precious memories with this goofball. I wouldn't trade them for the world.

What are your favorite summer activities?

Linking up at Mommy Moments and Fitness Friday.