Cassi Turns Five

I know it's been a while since I've written about anything real on here. Things are good. I'm happy. God is good. I still feel like we're in a resting period. You could say waiting period, but resting sounds better. We feel like we're on the brink of something, but we don't know what yet. And until then, I'll call this the resting period.

We have full weekends until this summer, but that full schedule leads to a completely open schedule soon, and I cannot wait. I need to really focus on my school this year. I need to choose a senior paper topic, and I need to start preparing for the bar next year. I'm scared stiff about having to take the bar, but as of right now I know I need to pursue this. One step at a time. 

Cassi turned five this week and we had fun celebrating her special day. Her homeschooling will really start to take flight now and I will enter a new stage of homeschooling with having a kindergartener and a fourth grader this Fall. I'm looking forward to that stage. 

My half marathon is a week from Sunday. I didn't train as much as I had planned to, but I know I can do it and it will be fine. I just won't be hitting any PRs or anything like that. I might do a 25K a few weeks after that then, too. Long distance running makes me happy and I'd like to slowly work up to a marathon distance as soon as I have the time for that training. 

So that's life for me right now. 

 A flowering tree in our front yard

 Chocolate cake and roses for our little Cassandra Rose's Birthday

Happy Birthday to our dear, sweet, Cassandra Rose! 


9 Months

Cecily at 9 months is happy and content, getting prettier each day, and loving her toys and books more each day. This little summer baby is desperately hoping it warms up, though, because she hates wearing socks or sleeves. She has to have either her fingers or her toes in her mouth at all times. 


Pictures from Easter 2016

This Easter was Cecily's first Easter. She had no clue what was going on, but she looked lovely in her Easter dress, and just as cute surrounded by a bunch of plastic eggs. 

The week before Easter Chris's sister had a sweet baby girl, Gemma Alexis. We were smitten at once, and were excited to be celebrating new life right before Palm Sunday!

And then my brother and his wife had a baby girl just three days before Easter! They named her Hannaniah Sue and we are in love! What a privilege to be spending Easter with not just one, but two newborns in the family!

My brother, Travis, took me out the night before Easter to go frog hunting. The swamp behind my parent's house and near the pond was teaming with frogs - the sounds they were making were so loud you could hear them from indoors! I just had to go investigate. Since Trav only had one pair of waders, it was up to me to sludge through the swamp and scoop up the frogs...in the dark no less! But rest assured, the deed was done thanks to a flashlight and this net. If you follow me on Snapchat or Instagram you already know this happened - Yes, I'm so proud of it. 

We went to the sunrise service so we could prepare the Easter meal with time to spare. We caught that early morning light in these photos right after church. So pretty, but I made all of us take off our coats, and it was still pretty chilly at 8:30AM! Any grumpy faces in the photos are from the freezing cold!

We picked up Nani at the nursing home to celebrate Easter with us. She waited at the door with a bowl in hand for us to pile eggs up in after our Easter egg hunt.

Of course my brother "hid" my Easter basket up high thinking I wouldn't be able to reach it. Ha! My high-heeled platform boots ensured that I didn't need any help reaching it like my brother had hoped.

Capri is finally old enough to enjoy the Easter egg hunt - the faces she kept making out of frustration or excitement were so adorable!

CJ got a bow and arrow from Grandpa for Easter - he could not contain his excitement!

And that's Grandpa in the background asking CJ to give him a hug for the present! lol!

Mom started making the deviled eggs as soon as most of the eggs were found.

My little brother made our Easter desserts.  These chocolate mousse domes with caramel garnish and a french macron (strawberry flavored with nutella filling) with raspberries and macaron crumble - divine!

And here are the last of our Easter photos - notice the icy chill in our smiles? lol!


She's 8 Months Old Today!

And Cecily is 8 months now. She's a cuddler, a smiler, a giggler, and a squealer. She gnaws on everything and drools incessantly, but so far has handled her teething like a champ. She steals our hearts with her smiles and coos. Her three older siblings absolutely adore her. And that melts me every time. 

We love our little Cecily Renee!


On Running

To commemorate hitting my own little PR this week, I decided to do a little write up about fitness. I know, I'm not that kind of blog. But aren't you a little curious about my exercise routine? Haha!

For the record, my PR was getting 29 miles of running in only five days last week. I'm pretty proud of myself. I feel strong, I feel more fit, I deserved the calories I ate that week, and the endorphins are keeping me pretty happy. The adrenalin rush I get from my heart pumping so fast and the cool air on my lungs is my only little piece of euphoria. 

Three times a week I wake up at 4:45AM so I can fully wake up before hitting the road at 5:05 to make the 20 minute drive to my old town to run with my friend and running buddy at 5:30. We usually run for an hour and fifteen minutes - getting about 7.5 miles in on our good days. Then two days a week I either meet another friend here in my new town at 5:15AM or on weekends or evenings to get a couple of recovery runs in. Every once in a while I'll get a good 4 mile run in by myself while I listen to a lecture for one of my classes on my earbuds. Throughout the day I try to get fifty squats and plies in - plus 25 sit ups and 15 pushups. 

Here are a few things I find motivate me to keep running:
  • Find a friend to run with. Getting to chat about your day with someone else who is beating it out on the pavement right with you will help the time go by fast and make you wish you could run longer. 
  • Whenever you feel like quitting, just slow down. It will give you the chance to catch your breath and is usually the right amount of a break to get you back in the game after a few minutes.  
  • Don't exercise for weight loss alone. You usually eat extra when you're burning so many calories with exercise, so you might not actually achieve any weight loss unless you watch what you eat. That can get discouraging. Focus on running for health and endorphins!
  • Sign up for a race. It gives you something to look forward to and is kind of like a reward for all your effort (the cheering you get at big races is seriously the best affirmation)!
  • Remind yourself that running will help you with your stress so that you don't skip it on stressful days.
  • Get the right gear so the elements don't inhibit you! (Click on the pics below to see where to buy the products):

I just bought this headband that works as a beanie or a headband. It wicks away sweat, holds your hair back, and keeps you cool in the sun and warm in the cold. You can buy it here http://www.lolewomen.com/shop/features/boxing-week/law0338.html (it's on sale!).

For summertime, I just use smaller headbands to keep flyaways out of my face while I run.

I run outside even when it's in the low double digits, and once or twice in the single digits. When the weather is that frigid, a face mask is the only way to go. The one below is breathable, sweat wicking, and converts to just a neck warmer for when your face warms up. My running buddy bought these for us for this Winter and it has been a lifesaver!

Sweat wicking shirts with the thumbholes double as extra warmth for your hands so in milder weather you can avoid gloves. I love the zipper at the neck so that I can keep my neck warm during the beginning of the run, but unzip later in the run when I need to cool off.

My favorite running tights are Gapfit when they go on clearance. They don't create muffin top, but yet they don't hang too low or ride up. The fabric doesn't look too worn or nubby between the thighs after several wears and washes and they always have the right size invisible pocket for keys and a phone on the side or back.

I usually get fitted for running shoes (I'm an overpronater). I've worn Asics, Brooks, and now I'm wearing these Nikes. I love how these look and I love that they still have great support but feel really lightweight and breathable. Something my Asics and Brooks didn't really combine.

Lastly, I LOVE my Apple Watch! I have the sports edition, which is great for handling my sweat. I bought a leather band to switch out to for when I'm not wearing it for exercise. This thing tells me the temperature, the time, my speed, my distance, a map of where I am, my steps, and shows all my iPhone notifications right from my wrist. I can also take calls, text, and listen to music from my watch as long as my phone is nearby. So convenient and makes me feel confident to just get out and run without having to figure out a route first.

I'm signed up for a half marathon this Spring with some friends and I can't wait for it! One of my favorite things about running is the fact that it's just for me - a time to get out and either be by myself or with my friends. A chance to have a break from all my chores and just listen to my heartbeat and the sound of my steps. 

Sometimes a run is the answer to most of my problems. :-) 


Time to Reflect

I told you that since our move at the beginning of the year things have felt very peaceful. I feel like I am no longer busy in the stressful sense of that word. Sure, I have things to do like everybody else, but I can be a tad bit more flexible and I can squeeze in some down time. 

Waking up so early, constantly changing diapers and chasing kiddos -- teaching school to the children for the first half of the day and then teaching myself in law school for the second half of the day - plus commitments, running the household, appointments, meeting with friends, etc., makes me feel like I'm never quite on top of things and never fully succeeding at anything. But I'm learning to embrace the imperfections of my life and just admit to myself and to others that I struggle juggling it all. So I'm grateful for slower days or little indulgences I get that give me the recharge I need to get back to the grind or appreciate routine. 

For my Birthday this year Chris bought me a flight to go see my sister Missi in Florida. It seemed like the perfect way to take advantage of some down time and get away for a recharge. I got to meet some new family members, catch up with old friends, enjoy my sisters and brother, and not have to worry about bundling up to go anywhere. 

Cecily met the ocean for the first time. I went for a solo walk with just Cecily in my arms on the beach. We breathed the salt air. We hummed with the crashing waves. We found a few seashells to bring back to Ohio for the other kids. We stood still for moments here and there taking in the beauty and reverently worshipping God for His creation. And my soul was at rest. Cecily cooed the entire time. I'm certain she loved that walk as much as I.

The Florida trip was a quick weekend rendezvous, but I've continued to find ways to unwind since being home. Our local coffee shop is a block from my house, so after a long run in my old town with a friend, I can squeeze in a little indulgence while I study before the kids wake up. I can't tell you how wonderful it makes me feel to get a 6-7 mile run in and an hour of studying in before daybreak! 

It used to be that styling outfits, taking photos, and shopping was what inspired me - but now a little time alone is what recharges me. It has been so good to be back to being a morning person and taking advantage of those hours I used to snooze through. Nevertheless, sometimes I miss the old days of taking the time to do my hair and make-up every day, shop for thrift finds, and wear something a new way each day. A few weeks ago I put this together for a couples' date recently and loved the way it turned out. For the most part, though, these styled moments are rare.

In other news, Cecily turned 7 months today and I was able to get a little photo shoot in this morning with her. She has been hitting some milestones lately, and I'm finding myself feeling sad that her toddler days are right around the corner.

These babies of mine teach me so much about life. How I respond to life inevitably becomes the way they respond to life - I see my mistakes in them, but I also see so much forgiveness from them. Oh how quickly telling them I love them or am sorry will absolve any ounce of sadness or anger in them.

Now I have to get back to studying. Just needed a quick moment to reflect a little on the past few weeks. Winter seems to drag on forever, but looking back on these photos, it feels like it is going by too fast. Funny how that happens.