September 30, 2014

Let's Talk PiYo...

Lately I've been using Instagram as a mini blog for me.  It's easy, it's fast, it's instant and THAT I have time for.  Until I share things on there that I wish to elaborate on, here, and never get around to it.  That's when it dawned on me, the other day, that I never shared my results from PiYo with my blog readers.  

I know the suspense has been killing you.  ::sarcasm font::

OK so here's the deal.  Prior to starting PiYo I had done three rounds {alpha, beta, and gamma} of T25.  I was feeling really good but I was excited to see what PiYo would do for my body.  It promise to give you a long, lean look with no jumps and no weights.  After gamma T25 I was ready for something a little more low impact.  

I had never done a Chalene Johnson program before so I had no idea what to expect from her.  I big, pink, puffy heat love Shaun T so I was worried Chalene wouldn't live up.  Well I am happy to report that I was wrong.  She is awesome.  No, she's extraordinary.  She's got such an amazing, positive, inspiring, attitude and you can tell that she's just a happy person.  When I grow up I want to be Chalene.  

So about the program.  It starts out slow with 20 minute, beginner type workouts.  After a couple of weeks you build up to the "harder" workouts that will seriously make you sweat!  The workouts range from 20-45 minutes and the 45 minute ones will leave your whole body feeling like Jell-O {in a good way}.  The program lasts 8 weeks and then, if you're like me, you'll start over because it's THAT good.  If you're thinking, "but yoga is too slow for me..." think again.  Yes this program combines elements of yoga but it's anything but slow.  

This was after I finished gamma T25 and then PiYo...

I'm pretty happy my results.  Heck I'm hella happy with these results!  Don't ask why but I didn't take a side pic this time and I'm kicking myself for it.  I feel like I got more muscles with PiYo than with T25- which still boggles my mind because of all the weights in T25.  I also feel stronger after PiYo.  I'm noticing muscles in my arms/shoulders that I didn't know where there before.  As for my stomach, it's still a work in progress but hot damn if it's not getting tighter- finally!

I loved this program so much that I'm getting PiYo certified next month!  Hopefully I'll be able to teach it at a studio here or around Columbus very soon.  I'm very excited about this new venture and I can't wait to see where it takes me.

If you've been considering PiYo I highly, highly recommend it.  It's low impact so it's great for people who have injuries or aren't quite ready for something like T25.  It still delivers great results {obviously} and no weights and no jumping no extra equipment required.  Chalene is such a great motivator and has a positive attitude throughout which just makes me happy.  

September 18, 2014

Fall Family Photo Outfits

I love having our family pictures taken.  It usually only happens once a year and it's always in the fall.  That is the only time I am actually guaranteed to get professional pictures taken.  It's mostly for Christmas card purposes, if I'm being honest, but I do love to change out our pictures in our house every once in a while too.

I do not, however, like trying to find coordinating outfits for us all {families bigger than four are laughing at me right now}.  In this day and age the idea is to all wear outfits that coordinate but don't "match".  Gone are the days of everyone wearing jeans and a white top.  Today we want to look more casual as if we just happened to look this cute while we were at a park and stumbled across a professional photographer.  Right?  Wrong.  

The whole coordinating but not matching thing is cute, looks great in pictures but boy oh boy doesn't it cause me a lot of sleepless nights.  I know, I know {hashtag: firstworldproblems}.  I mean I didn't literally lose sleep over it but I did have many text conversations with my friend over it {I'm lucky she still speaks to me after that debacle}.  It just stresses me out.  

I knew I wanted to wear THAT dress. I got it a few days before, fell in love with it, loved the fit, it was perfect.  I was able to coordinate Jimmy and baby James with no troubles but Kendall?  She had nothing in the orange, olive, black/white department.  I was struggling.  Again hashtag: firstworldproblems.  I'll say this, if you are looking for something black and white for a little girl, think again.  It basically doesn't exist, I looked everywhere.  So I had to figure out a new way to tie us all together, because I was wearing that dress, damnit. 

Enter the denim vest.  Seriously people, what did I do before this 1990s throwback?  I am obsessed.  I wear it pretty much every day that I get dressed in real clothes.  I love it.  So throw that on and all I needed was a denim dress for Kendall, some orange accents and a pair of brown boots and we're good as coordinated.  

I also knew I wanted to get some pictures of just Jimmy and I because the last REAL pictures we have together are from our wedding, everything since has been family.  So then our outfits had to look good together but also with the whole family.  You guys I think way too much about this stuff.

Our pictures were a bit different from last year.  Last year James was just a tiny baby.  We didn't have to worry about him looking at the camera because, who cares, he's a baby!  He also wasn't mobile at the time either.  Now he's mobile in the sense that he does whatever he wants and also is too young to listen so that's fun.  But my sweet friend Sarah was so great with my kids.  She knew what to do to get them to look at her, made them smile at the same time and when she shot this picture I knew it was going to make my heart melt.

It's safe to say I want to start a gallery wall with just canvases from this shoot because I am in love!  When Sarah sent me my slideshow I cried, literally.  So beautiful.  I didn't even care what the outfits looked like together anymore.  This is my family and my whole heart.  I know that the days seem long but the years are short and these photos reminded me of that.  Kendall is four and James is one and I can remember the day each of them was born as if it were yesterday.  I am so incredibly lucky to be their mama {or "mom" as Kendall calls me these days}.  As for Jimmy?  He's stolen my heart all over again.  He's the one who keeps me sane, the one I can be silly with and the one who has my back no matter what.  I don't know where I'd be without him.

Outfit details:
Jimmy- Shirt//Jeans {similar}//Boots {similar}
Shannon- Dress//Vest//Boots {similar}
Kendall- Dress//Bow//Boots
James- Shirt//Pants//Shoes

September 17, 2014

SO WHAT! Wednesday

This week I'm saying SO WHAT if...

I am not that emotional mom who cries on her child's first day of preschool.

For the past few weeks my IG and Facebook feeds have been full of back to school/first day of school pictures. I LOVE seeing these, seriously.  I love side by sides of the previous year vs this year and how these babies have grown.  Most of the people I follow on social media are people I have followed via blogging from years back. A lot of them had babies at the same time that I had Kendall and so it's like watching our babies grow up together.  It's cool, really.

Normally when I see said pictures pop up on my feed they're accompanied by, "cue the waterworks" type captions.  A lot of parents cried on the first day, or so they said.  Even at our own drop off there were lots of lingering parents, hanging out in the annex down the hall "just in case", with camera in tow.  

And I thought, "maybe there's something wrong with me?".  

I was not that mom.  I hugged and kissed my girl at the classroom door, told her to have a good day, and off she went with a huge smile on her face.  James and I did not hang around to have coffee while we made sure Sister was going to be OK.  I took her picture before we left the house, obviously, but there were no send off pictures.  There were definitely no tears {from either of us}.

Call me crazy but I was excited for the first day of school.  

You're probably thinking I'm selfish, that I was happy because I "got rid" of one of my kids for 2.5 hrs/3 days a week, but that is not the case.  Last year?  In the throes of The Terrible Threes with an epic "threenager"?  That would have absolutely been my reason. But not this year.

I was excited because Kendall was excited.  She loves school and her teacher {she has the same teacher as last year}.  She likes seeing her friends again.  She couldn't wait to play on the playground at school and have a snack, four-year-old priorities.  I'm happy that she likes school {for now} and, so, if she's excited, I'm excited.

Also, I was looking forward to her doing some things that we haven't really been doing much at home lately, like painting, cutting, Play-Doh, kinetic sand- basically anything messy.  James is still putting EVERYTHING in his mouth.  He's walking now so he gets into whatever he wants.  If there is a piece of confetti on the ground, he will find it and eat it, guaranteed.  So a lot of that has been put on hold because, OMG it freaks me out.  Instead we do less messy, more quiet things like puzzles, reading, and board games.  So to know that at least three days a week she's getting to let her creativity flow, makes me happy.

So, no, I was not sad on the first day of preschool and I realized there is nothing "wrong" with me for that.  When my child is happy, I am happy.  Now, come first day of kindergarten I might be singing a different tune...

September 15, 2014

Sweet September

I'm going to go out on a limb and say that September is the new black.  No?  How about September is the new January? 

I feel like September is a fresh start.  Just like you make New Years Resolutions in January, September is a time for renewal too.  Sure the ease of summer is over but there's something refreshing about getting into a routine.  I kind of like knowing that x, y, and z are happening and by that I mean I like that preschool is happening and therefore so are early bedtimes.  I kid, I kid.  Kind of. 

But there's something about the cooler air, the windows open, the new fall clothes, the thrill of going apple picking and hayride riding, and earlier nights that make me feel like a new person.  September is usually still warm enough to wear your maxi dresses by day but chilly enough to snuggle up in a hoodie come nightfall.  It's pretty much having your cake and eating it too, the best of both worlds. 

I know it's only been September for 12 days but in less than two weeks I almost feel like I've become a new person. I feel like I've become more laid back.  Which is weird considering we are actually on a schedule now.  We now have preschool three days a week {up one day from last year} and Jimmy teaches two nights a week on top of working 40+ hours.  We have a lot of birthdays, family events and not to mention holidays but something about all of this makes me feel calm.  I like knowing what's coming up and I like having things to do. Call me crazy,

I feel like, come September, I'm ready for change.  Whether it be fall fashion, a darker hair color, new recipes, different scents, I get excited for it all.  Fall is a time to try new things and, in a way, feels like the new year again.  I'm not going to go all crazy and make a resolution or anything BUT I might change up a few things, to keep it fresh.

As much as I love summer I do welcome fall with open arms.  While we have more to do on a day to day basis we also slow down a bit.  We snuggle more.  We talk more.  We listen more. We are more intentional with our time.  And that will always make me love fall, just a little more.

September has been good to us so far.  We've gone apple picking, made cider, had our fall family pictures taken, had a bonfire with s'smores, and we've already eaten LOTS of chili.  So I guess, maybe that whole thing about fall slowing us down isn't true.  But one thing is for sure and that's that we've spent a lot of time together, as a family, and it doesn't get much better than that.

September 10, 2014

My Sweet Summer Is Gone

As I sit here and type this post I'm greeted by the cool autumn breeze blowing through my kitchen window, which has been closed for far too long due to the summers heat.  I'm wearing fleece pants, a hoodie, and "at home" socks-you know the super-thick, cozy ones with the grippy things on the bottom?

I'm equally happy and sad about this.

I love summer.  The hotter the better.  I love the sunshine, going to the pool, eating ice cream for dinner, the beach, wearing shorts, going to the park, the easiness of life that takes place for three months out of the year.  Yes, summer is my favorite season. 

But, I also love fall.  Who doesn't?  If I needed further proof that fall is everyone's favorite, I can just look at Instagram.  It's already full of Pumpkin Spice Lattes {bleh}, fall candles {guilty as charged}, and people digging out there riding boots.  I get it, it's exciting to open the windows, snuggle up in a hoodie, and smell all the things pumpkin.  But it also means that winter, dreaded white-death, is upon us and after the winter that nearly killed the moms I am not looking forward to what's next.  

Kendall starts PreK-4 today.  Or preschool as I like to call it.  While I'm looking forward to this for her, the schedule, learning, being around other kids her age, not having to limit her activities because of a certain one-year-old, I am going to miss the laziness of our summer days.  Yesterday we were casually swimming, soaking up our last pool day of the year, and today we will be on a time crunch to get breakfast in our tummies, hair brushed, bodies dressed and out the door on time. 

Friday was our last week day of summer and I really had nothing planned.  I had things that I wanted/needed to do but for the most part was unscheduled.  We had preschool open house from 9-10 and that went just as I figured.  Kendall was shy the first 55 minutes and then opened up and became more herself for the last five.  It's fine, she'll be fine today {that's what I keep telling myself}.  

We had been invited to an Eric Carle event at our local Gymboree* the same day and, being as her preschool theme is also Eric Carle this year, I wanted to go.  I love Eric Carle books, Kendall's favorite is The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and I knew it'd be fun for her.  She had a blast!  It was a simple event but perfectly age appropriate and I even got to do some shopping for our fall family pictures while she painted a caterpillar and listened to story time.

We threw money in the fountains, made wishes, shopped a little more, ran through the splash pad and topped our morning with a little bit of ice cream for lunch.  Nothing was scheduled, I wasn't worried about naps or being anywhere on time.  We just went with the flow and it was exactly as the last day of summer should be, carefree and easy.  It's amazing, when I let go my kids are happier and we have such a better day.  I need to remember this when we are stuck in the house this winter.

Now our days are going to be scheduled.  Teeth will need to be brushed by 8 o'clock.  There will be no more staying up a little late catching fireflies.  No more ice cream for dinner.  While part of me likes the idea of a routine the other, bigger part of me is sad to see the easy breezy summer days go away. 

Maybe I can convince Jimmy to move to California...

“This is a sponsored blog post. I received compensation from Gymboree. The opinions and text are all mine.”

August 28, 2014


That hashtag should actually just be singular,#paleodew, because I'm the only one in the house on board {for now}.

Anywho...I've done it, I've jumped on the paleo train. I've only been at it about three weeks so I'd hardly call myself an expert and definitely don't consider myself "paleo".  I am still learning but I've already learned a lot and my body is responding.  

About a year ago, almost exactly, I attempted to go paleo.  I spent $250 on one shopping trip {double what I was, then, normally spending}, searched and searched the Pinterest for recipes, made a big deal about it, and then failed.  I thought all my Pinterest-ing had me prepared but all it had done was overwhelm me and make me not want to do it because "it was too hard".  

Fast forward one year and I was ready to do something drastic for my body.  I want to emphasize that I am not doing this to lose weight.  My reason for wanting to try a paleo diet was for my health and my body.  I had been eating somewhat clean, but not really.  I had heard from friends how amazing they felt after going paleo, their skin looked better, they had more energy, their bloat was gone, the benefits were endless.  

I was tired of waking up feeling tired.  I hated going to bed feeling "blah" and waking up feeling pretty much the same.  My "belly fat" was never going away.  I wasn't sleeping the best, restless and waking up even when the kids weren't {dumb}.  I knew that I had muscles under neath this layer of "fat" and I was really hoping that cutting some of the culprits would help bring those muscles forward and, who knows, even make them visible?  That last part hasn't happened yet but I'm closer than I was 3 weeks ago.

dress c/o Amaranth Collection
The thing I've read about paleo is that it's more of an 80/20 plan.  If you can eat paleo 80% of the time you're doing alright.  So that's been my approach to it thus far.  I've had a few "cheats" here and there {mostly on the weekends} but for the most part I've stuck to a pretty paleo diet.  

Once I took all the thinking out of it, it was actually really easy to do.  I thought I'd die without cheese, literally.  I never in a million years thought I'd be able to eat an omelette without stuffing it with cheese.  I didn't think it was possible to enjoy tacos {burrito bowls} without cheese.  I was OK with the no dairy part and the grains didn't really concern me too much but the cheese?  I just couldn't imagine life without it.  

I just wrote a whole paragraph about cheese...

So yeah, once I stopped over-thinking it, it became much more do-able.  For some reason I was thinking dinner was going to be so difficult but, ummm, hello...meat and veggies!  How easy is that?  No need to come up with something elaborate every night.  I mean I still like to come up with some creative recipes and try out new things but in a pinch I marinate some chicken and slice up some sweet potato chips and a side of fruit, voila!  It doesn't have to be hard!

I've been at it for 3ish weeks now and I already feel so much better.  I feel leaner, even if I don't look it yet.  I wake up feeling good and energetic instead of sluggish.  I have lost about 3-4 lbs which, like I said, wasn't my intention but an added bonus, I guess.  I just like the fact that I am feeling better inside and out.

Now, if I could just get my other half on board.  He eats whatever I make for dinner but as far as breakfast and lunch go, he's on his own.  He'll come around sooner or later, I just know it.  

I am really enjoying this new lifestyle and the changes that my body has made thus far.  I'm trying out new recipes and food combinations and that's been fun.  My cravings for sweets and carbs are gone.  I no longer look towards comfort foods but instead fuel my body with foods that I know are going to do it good.  It's crazy because the better I do sticking to the paleo plan the better I want to do.  If I slip up it makes me want to do better the next day and really stick to eating whole foods rather than have another "cheat".  

Hopefully going forward I'll have some more paleo recipes to share but other than that I'm not going to get all paleo blogger on you, don't worry.  If you follow me on IG you've already seen a few dinner ideas and you can follow the hashtag #paleodews if you are interested in seeing more of our paleo meals.  If you are looking for a real paleo blogger check out PaleOMG, Nom Nom Paleo, and Stupid Easy Paleo, just to name a few.

August 26, 2014

My Life With Two: A Year Later

I've written this post a time or two.  Once it was all butterflies and rainbows, raising two small kids.  The next time I was day-drinking because, dude, shit got real.  Now I've been at the game for a little over a year and I feel like I'm somewhere in between. 

Raising two little kids is more than double the work of one.  I truly believe that.  And you moms of 3+ are probably laughing at me, saying, "you think two is tough...".  I know.  I KNOW.  You ladies are saints and are doing a job I don't think I could ever do.  Two is my number, I am tapping out.  

Let's start with the littlest.  James Weston has stolen my heart.  He's made me love like I've never loved before.  When he was born there was nothing like the feeling I felt holding him.  My pride, love, gratitude, happiness, were all overflowing.  He was a snuggly little baby and wanted to be held a lot.  While it made for a messy house, I didn't care.  I knew that precious baby time went fast and so I snuggled.  I should have known that was foreshadowing my future with him.  
James is a very demanding baby/infant/toddler {I don't know what to call a one-year-old}.  He needs attention constantly.  He likes to be held, a lot.  He still cries a lot.  He's into e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g.  He's definitely the definition of a boy, through and through.  His new favorite thing is climbing.  If he can climb it, he will.  I've recently found him in some dangerous situations, laughing and clapping, proud as a peacock.  He's trouble with a capital T and will be the reason I keep my hair blonde {so you don't see the grays}.  

When James smiles he smiles with his whole face; I've said that since day one.  It's usually the feature that people comment on the most when we're in public, "Look at that SMILE!".  I love it.  He's got 10 little teeth in there too but you can't see them unless he's hanging upside down.  He's a chunky little guy, still, weighing in at 26lbs.  I love his rolly polly legs and yes, I nom on them regularly.  He's starting to get the hang of signing, he can do "more" and "all done" when he wants to.  Baby brother loves to dance and will pretty much dance to anything, even MY singing.  He's getting more adventurous with walking and is starting to stand up and walk without holding on more and more each day.  Dare I say I hope he walks soon?  For selfish reasons, of course {26lbs is HEAVY!}.

He makes me feel all the emotions but I wouldn't have it any other way.  He has completed our family and we love him so.

And that brings me to my big girl, Miss Kendall Paige.  I don't even know where to begin with this one.  When she was born I knew that we'd have a special relationship.  I have always been close with my mom and I can only hope and pray that she and I have such the relationship.  So far so good.  She's my little best friend.  I think the best word to describe Kendall is "spunky".  She's got the sass of a thirteen-year-old but her heart is so tender.  She's very emotional and can go from extremely happy/silly to a full-blown meltdown in mere seconds.  She's full of energy and just when I think she's about to crash she gets a second wind and that blonde, curly hair of hers is bouncing around all over again.  

Girlfriend is smarter than smart.  She amazes me everyday and I will even catch myself saying, "where did you learn/hear that?" and usually she responds with, "I just made it up" or something to that effect.  This summer has actually probably been a disservice to her in the learning department {total mom fail} so I am excited for preschool to start back up so she can get her wheels turning again.  She loves school, her friends and her teachers and I love that about her.  I've had the pleasure of watching her in her classroom and it's such a joy.  I'm always so proud because while she's a little bit more reserved and timid than some of her more rowdy classmates she's a great listener and always does what is asked of her.

Although she just turned four, it's quickly becoming my favorite age.  I love that I can talk to her and have conversations that actually mean something.  She makes me laugh more than anyone can.  The things that come out of her mouth never cease to amaze me.  She's also starting to mimic me and some of the things that I say.  While that can be adorable and hilarious, it's also sometimes embarrassing because I'm not always the best role model.  She's starting to have her own interests and opinions and while that's challenging at times it's also really cool because she's becoming her own person.  She's strong-willed and I hope that is a characteristic that stays with her throughout her adolescence and into adulthood.  

I love this little girl, the one who made me mom.

To see them together is pretty cool too.  When James was first born Kendall was cautiously curious. She never wanted to hold him, she didn't get in his face a lot and normally when I'd ask her if she wanted to interact with him she'd do so but it wouldn't last long.  I think it was her age because now that's all changed.  They still don't really play together, yet, but every once in a while, when the playroom is quiet, I'll sneak in on them and they'll be sitting on the floor interacting and it just makes my heart melt into a big puddle of mush.  I live for those rare, rare moments.  She lights up his life, he loves her more than anyone in our family.  When I get him up from nap he immediately looks around for her and when he sees her he smiles as big as he can.  She thinks he's pretty cool too and his biggest fan when he's learning something new, like walking.  She cheers him on every time even when I'm not paying attention.  

These two have made these last 365 days more chaotic, stressful and sleepless.  I'd have to say the past year has been the toughest but has also taught me the most.  I learned how to love greater, be more patient, better prioritize and, the biggest of all, that I'm not in control.  These little guys have made my life so much better just by being in it.  Even on the tough days I'm reminded of how lucky I am to have two healthy, striving, ridiculously adorable kids that I get the privilege to spend everyday with.  Sure, they make life...different but they also make it worth living.