A few things learned while on the treadmill (sponsored)

I’m currently blogging about my fitness journey thanks to my ambassadorship with Smooth Fitness. While these posts are sponsored and I received a super sweet treadmill in exchange for my story, I’m taking this opportunity to get in shape extremely seriously. OK, mostly seriously anyway…

I am not an athlete, but have decided as part of my farewell to Indianapolis, to run the famous Indy Mini Marathon (largest 1/2 marathon in the country with around 30,000 participants) on May 3rd. Almost seven weeks into the twelve week training program, I’m learning so much about myself both physically and psychologically.

A few things you probably never wanted to know about me, but now I know about myself:

1. Miles one – three are the serious worst. I’m stiff, my body hurts, I’m cursing and swearing with each step. But if I can power through the first few, I can find my rhythm and start enjoying the ride.

2. But bananas are the serious best. I’m not a huge fan of the banana, but since starting my training, I’ve swallowed one down almost every morning. They provide energy, calm the nervous tummy, and keep the poops away (more on the poops later). Bananas are the perfect runners’ food I’ve learned.

3. I have one speed, and that’s ok. Whether I’m running one mile or eight, I move at a pace of around 11:30 miles. This is pretty much classified as a “snails” pace, but for me it’s both my jogging pace and my race pace – I’m owning it.

12991392475 c2b5b8956c A few things learned while on the treadmill (sponsored)

4. TMI: Chafing is a real (painful) thing. My bra strap causes chafing. The seams in my pants cause chafing. A very good (much more in-shape) lady friend of mine says her butt causes chaffing. You know, not the actual crack but the part when the rump meets the leg. I’m currently combating the chafe with Body Glide, which basically makes me feel like I’m rubbing deodorant in my crotch. But whatever, because it’s helping.

5. “Mind over Matter” isn’t a flippant saying tough people throw around. I know it’s hard to believe, but 6 miles really isn’t that far if you slowly work your way up to it with gradual training. I already know if I can get past those first 3 miles, I will absolutely be able to finish 13.1 miles.

6. Playlists are key, get a good one. Download the (free) app Rock My Run, it will change you.

7. TMI: Running will give you “dirty tooters” (Paul’s favorite phase). I don’t know what it is about running, and yes I googled it to make sure it’s just not me, but running makes you want to get business done if you know what I mean. Yes, I’ve had to pause the treadmill mid-run to avoid a situation (linked to super funny marathon poop story) and I’m not embarrassed to admit it.

Currently it fits into my schedule to run on my treadmill 2-3 times a week, and run a longer distance outside on the weekends as weather permits. I prefer the convince of running on the treadmill, but love the high running in the elements gives me.

Ok your turn. What do you love (or hate) about running?

spill, sweep, trap & repeat (sponsored)

 spill, sweep, trap & repeat (sponsored)

Even though Gage is only four years old, this August he will be enrolled in full-day kindergarten. And no, this wasn’t my initial plan whatsoever. The plan was for him to stay home with me this year, go to two-morning a week preschool next year, and then the following year (at five and a half years old) he would start full-time kindergarten at our neighborhood public school.

But a year ago when I decided this is the way it would be, moving to Belgium wasn’t even a dream. But here we are, only four months away from getting on a plane with a one-way ticket to Waffle Town.

In Belgium, four year old children attend full-day Kindergarten. And because we want to do like the Belgians do, Gage will be going to Kindergarten too. To make the transition a little bit easier on him and us, we’re giving him more freedom now, hoping he becomes a little bit more independent (and possibly gain a little more maturity) before this drastic change rocks us all. We’re treating him more like one of the big kids, and less like his little brother.

Gage’s new responsibilities include:

Getting dressed in the morning on his own, including picking out his own outfits. And even if his outfit is a straight-up clown costume, I let him keep it on because he made the choice.

Brushing his teeth unassisted. (so so so messy)

Making his own Breakfast.

 12838502953 e679da4c77 spill, sweep, trap & repeat (sponsored)(of course it’s Nutella. We’re “doing as the Belgians do”, remember?)

And prepping a snack for himself and Paul after their afternoon rest time.

12838435535 9bceabca1e spill, sweep, trap & repeat (sponsored)

This is what happens when you leave the room to pee while he’s “just gonna pour a little in the bowl”.

As you can see, his new responsibilities are totally cutting my workload in half. He’s a work in progress no doubt, and I have to give him an A for effort when it comes to gaining independence.

And with every splatter and spill, comes a sweep and trap.

12838502793 3c29b1bb7e spill, sweep, trap & repeat (sponsored)

I’ve been a long time supporter of all things Swiffer for as long as I can remember. They always seemed come up with innovative products that do a really great job cleaning up all the little messes happening on our hardwoods.

Their newest little cleaning gem is the Sweep & Trap. Basically, rotating blades sweep up the mess into an easy to empty dirt bin (in the above photo, you can see all the cereal collected) and then a dry cloth follows behind, picking up any stray crumbs and dirt. Best part? There is no motor or batteries to worry about replacing.

We’re in love it it, and it’s easiest enough that even the most independent of mess makers can embrace life’s little messes. Yes, Gage is a Swiffer Sweep & Trap pro. It’s part of the deal. You make the mess, you clean the mess.


Get $2 off of a Swiffer Sweep & Trap starter kit at Target.com by going to Target.com and entering coupon code TGTBBAGU (Offer is only valid through 2/28/14 at Target.com)

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

running away from the SADS (sponsored)

I’m currently blogging about my fitness journey thanks to my ambassadorship with Smooth Fitness. While these posts are sponsored and I received a super sweet treadmill in exchange for my story, I’m taking this opportunity to get in shape extremely seriously. OK, mostly seriously anyway…


I have a very good friend who has gone through more personal heartache that I could ever fathom experiencing. At one point in her grief, I asked her what type of antidepressant she was on. For me to be so bold wasn’t an invasion of her privacy, we have a friendship dating back to where I’ve been there to hold her hair out of the dorm room toilet after a wild night partying, and then later in life to helped her pee while she wore a ballgown of a wedding dress.

Her response when I questioned her happy drug of choice blew my mind. She told me she’s never been on an antidepressant, because running and exercising is her drug. She works out 5-6 times a week, as a way to stay mentally healthy and strong.

Um, yeah. That’s not something I can relate to whatsoever. Over the years, I’ve been pretty open about my battle with anxiety and depression, and the things that have (and haven’t) helped me deal.

Antidepressants have worked. Although it was living hell trying to wean off them.

Talk therapy really didn’t do it for me.

A change of diet and taking supplements is good – if I can stay on them, which is a challenge for me.

With the Belgium move date inching closer and closer on the calendar, signs of anxiety and depression are starting to creep into my life. I obsess over to-do lists ranging from purging all our stuff and selling the house, to spending quality of time and seeing/doing local experiences one last time before I miss them forever. I know the move isn’t forever, but right now it’s starting to feel like forever.

I’m finding it hard to be restful and content. Or, on the flip side, it’s sometimes hard to get out of bed, and face the reality of said to-do list.

So I’ve taken up running, per my friend’s suggestion. And because I’ve always had a hard time committing to something without a tangible goal, I’ve decided to run the Indy Mini Marathon this spring, which is an experience I’ve always wanted to have while living in Indianapolis, and then running a collective 500 miles for the calendar year as a long term goal.

How am I doing?

I’m in week 3 of a 12 week 1/2 marathon training program. Guys, it’s hard. Today I had to run 3.5 miles, and this weekend my long run is 5 miles. The good news is that I’ve haven’t missed a day yet, and the program has you either running or exercising 5 days a week.

I’ve ran 60 of the 500 miles to-date. Yes, I’m a bit behind pace from where I should be, but I hope that through the half marathon training program I can catch up to where I need to be by the end of next month.

So is running/exercising helping me with my mood?

I’m sleeping loads better at night, which is major for me. Physically my body is more tired at the end of the day because of running. Since my anxiety often keeps me up at night, this is a really big deal to be able to fall asleep without the tossing and turning.

As a result of running, I’m eating better and drinking way more water instead of soda. I know some people exercise so they can “cheat”, and I totally 100% get that. But after I get done with a good run, I’m mentally motivated to eat more healthy and not “undo” what I just accomplished on the treadmill.

Just call me Pharrell Williams, because I’m totally more happy.  Something about healthy endorphins, I don’t know – I got a degree in interior design not sports medicine so I really don’t know how it works. But daaaaamn girl, whatever is happening inside my body after a run is a total high. I SO HAPPY.

The state of the wardrobe is looking happier too. It’s a cycle I know all too well. Feel sad, eat to feel happy, drink to wash it all away. Because of getting into a running routine, it’s helping me eat better with a lovely side effect of loosing a wee bit of weight. I’m not sure if I ever said it here before, but I could stand to loose a few. So far, I’ve lost around 5-7 pounds, which isn’t life shattering or anything, but I can tell my clothes are starting to fit better. Yes, this makes me smile.

12778252054 ded89baffd running away from the SADS (sponsored)

As I look out my window, snowflakes are flying, this winter has been the absolute worst especially if you’re prone to depression. But I can honestly say that thanks to making the effort to go downstairs and run on the treadmill a few times a week, it’s absolutely improved my mood for the better.

Running. Who knew it could make me so happy. Or at least a little bit less of a grandma grump….

*worth noting: I’m not suggesting depression and anxiety can be cured by simply hopping on a treadmill a few minutes a day. Oh no-no-no, not even one single bit. I’ve merely telling my story, what has worked for me, and what hasn’t. For me, daily exercise helps alleviate some of the heavy feelings caused by the SADS.






Running to the beats (sponsored)

*Over the next couple months I’ll be blogging about my fitness journey thanks to my ambassadorship with Smooth Fitness. While these posts are sponsored and I received a super sweet treadmill in exchange for my story, I’m taking this opportunity to get in shape extremely seriously. OK, mostly seriously anyway…


When I first got the treadmill, I instantly found it hard to get any mileage down like I could outside or at the gym.

I didn’t get it. I was in the comfort of my own home, firing up my favorite guilty pleasures on the TV, but was dying before I could get even one mile underfoot. Those first few weeks, I had many depressing “1 (mile) and done” workouts. And I was depressed and discouraged.

But then I had a light-bulb moment. While What not to Wear, Say Yes to the Dress and Bridzillas might be awesome shows (shut up they are), they’re simply not motivating. And commercials? Kill me dead, I cannot run through a freakin’ shampoo ad.

I need beats. Loud, raging, yell in my face beats. Songs that get my heart-rate up, that take my mind off the monotony of running.

12207011133 53f5839824 Running to the beats (sponsored)

Depending on the length of the song, I need about 2-3 songs a mile (my comfort zone is around 10:30 minute miles). Basically if I don’t have my running playlist and yurbuds in my ears, I simply don’t run. Yes, I’m that extreme. Judge me all you want, but it’s impossible for me to “meditate” or “think good thoughts” or whatever crazy people who don’t listen to music do while running.

My top 10 running songs (which will get be about 3 miles):

12206886743 f757f75f5c Running to the beats (sponsored)

1. Can’t Hold Us (feat. Ray Dalton) – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

2. I Love It (feat. Charli XCX)Icona Pop

3. Let the Groove Get In – Justin Timberlake

4. Paper Planes – M.I.A.

5. Scream & Shout – Will.I.Am

6. Stripper – Sohodolls

7. Ooh La La  – Britney Spears

8. Let Me Clear My ThroatDJ Kool

9. All Summer Long – Kid Rock

10. Supermassive Black Hole – Muse

And there you have it. Ok, since I’m training for a half marathon (yikes), and this playlist will only take me a quarter of the way to the finish line, I really would love to add a bunch of new tunes to the playlist.

Your turn. Give me your best get-up-and-go tune.


It’s how I’m doing today.

I’ve been asked countless times in the last week “how I’m doing” since telling everybody about our big move.

So how am I doing? Um, I’m not sure. One minute I’m on cloud nine, and the next I’m ready to call the whole shebang off. I’m overwhelmed, I’m full of energy and ready to get there ASAP, I want to ignore the entire process and curl up on the sofa and watch sad movies.

12055436516 339c176e43 Its how Im doing today.

I saw this little meme over at Okay BA, and well, here’s my version:

appreciating that my family has been really healthy this winter. Knock on wood, not a single one of us has had to go to the doctor in months. In fact, I can’t remember the last prescription I’ve filled. Although Nola did have a staph infection scare last week (infected bug bite!) and then there was that time I thought Piper had lice (black sand on her scalp leftover from vacation!).

reading Eleanor & Park Its how Im doing today.by Rainbow Rowell. I’m also a few chapters into The Gift of Pain Its how Im doing today. by Paul Brand & Philip Yancy. This book isn’t something I would typical pick up, but I’m really enjoying it – even though it has some really gross and graphic parts.

listening to Paul string together 3, 4, 5 words together at a time. Not to make your heart explode or anything, but today he said “mommy love you” to me for the first time ever, as he was getting tucked in for nap-time.

tasting our first hard cheese. A Farmhouse Cheddar – which I would classify as a beginner level pressed cheese. The verdict – it’s ok. The kids love it, but it’s a bit “bitter” for my taste. But we’re trouble shooting and learning from our mistakes. This past weekend we made Gouda, and this coming weekend we’re hopefully going to try our hand at Colby.

learning the French Word of the Day. I’ve set up a dry erase board in the kitchen, and everyday Piper translates and word for us onto the board. Today’s word of the day is “par” – it means door. Shut the front par!

noticing just how much stuff we have in this house. So much stuff to go through, so little motivation.

anticipating family coming into town this weekend. This move has put into perspective how much I love my family and friends – and just how much I’m really going to miss them when we’re away.

working on a few freelance pieces. Oh, and folding a ton of laundry.

helping Piper make homemade marshmallows and gummy bears.

making these Italian beef sandwiches for dinner. We’ve never had them before, so I’ll let you know…

taking passport photos of the kids. I realize now Paul was wearing footie pajamas with airplanes on them. He’s gonna love that when he’s seven…

watching the 5th season of Parenthood. This show, I just don’t know. But I keep watching because I have an addictive personality.

accepting that I can’t control everything.

organizing the family calender. I’m not a fan of the busy – and it’s getting busy fast.

planning to host dinner on Wednesday for my church community group. Also bringing a new mom in my neighborhood dinner. We’re going to have chicken bacon wild rice soup, crusty bread, salad, fresh fruit and some homemade ice cream. 

loving that when Gage gets excited, he uses lots and lots of exaggerated hand motions.

buying not much of anything. I’m more into selling stuff at the moment.

finishing nothing. I’m stuck in the middle of everything.

embracing a chaotic existence.

daring to clean under my sofa later this afternoon. What will I find?

So now you know how I’m doing. How are you doing?


the booklist. 2013 edition.

I finished my last book of 2013  the booklist. 2013 edition. sitting at the pool drinking a Bloody Mary, because it was before noon and it felt like it was the right thing to do.

I finished my first book of 2014, just 4 days later, snuggled under 2000 layers of blankets because Indiana is literally under a frozen state of somewhat emergency and yes I totally threw boiling water into the air to impress my kids.

Each and every year I set out to read more – but when it’s all said and done, the end of the year number is always somewhere between 20 – 30 books. This year, I clocked in at 24, which is somewhat embarrassing, but considering that my first book of 2013 was 840 pages of Anna Karenina the booklist. 2013 edition., I’m calling it a win.

My books list for 2013:

First things first, I know I read a ton of YA fiction. I make no excuses, I absolutely have fallen with these quick and entertaining reads.

Secondly, I’ve always had a thing for non-fiction, specifically biographies. And looking at the graphic above, I just realized it’s missing one of my favorite reads for 2013, Bread & Wine the booklist. 2013 edition. by Shauna Niequist (edited, I added it to the graphic, just couldn’t help myself…)

I love getting book suggestions from people I trust. May it be a status update on Facebook from a friend who just read the best book ever, a blog post such as this, my Goodreads friends, or a good ole’ in-person OMGEEEE I just read this book and I know you’ll love it too recommendation – I rarely read something without a serious suggestion.

Also – when I start a book I read it in it’s entirety, even if I hate it. Because you never know, it might totally redeem itself in the last few pages. Which never happens. Ever.

So without further ado, here are my 3 favorite (+ a bonus) reads of 2013:

The Art of Racing in the Rain the booklist. 2013 edition.: This book came out in 2009, and has been on my “to read” list ever since. At one point I even checked it out of the library, only to look at it catch dust on my nightstand for 3 weeks. I always assumed it was about running on foot – which isn’t the case at all. It’s a fantastic read that might make you cry (disclaimer) but will make you fall in love with the furry 4-legged beings in your life. A super heartfelt easy read.

Vaclav & Lena the booklist. 2013 edition.: I was recommended this YA read by my good friend Angie Six. I loved it – a real sweet (and quick) read about two high school kids that fall in love under less than desirable family circumstances.

The Fault in Our Stars the booklist. 2013 edition.: I know, I know. You’ve probably already read this book (especially if you live in Indianapolis). But if you haven’t – will you please put it on your 2014 list for me? Or at least save the date and go to the movie with me come June 6th?


Traveling Mercies the booklist. 2013 edition.: Anne Lamott, oh how I love everything she writes. This books is not new news by any means (published in 2000), but she really speaks to me as a Christian women. She admits deep struggle and sin – brokenness I can identify with in my own life.

Ok – you knew this was coming. What is your book to-read suggestion for in 2014?

*Past book lists for the curious: (2007 2008 2009 2010, 2011, 2012)

*book links above contain affiliate links. You click, you buy, I win a coin – or more like a dime.