Favorite Blogs on Friday

While I’m over here attempting to digest the fact that my little man turned two today. I’m going to share my Friday Favorites… Blogger style edition. I’ve been writing blogs or diaries as I used to call it since 1998 when I started my first website. Over the years I’ve had a number of blogs I’ve loved evolve, change & grow with the times. As I’ve grown my taste in blogs has changed. As the blog world has grown, blogs in general have changed. Right now here are my favorites that I never miss!

The Gymnternet

I’m a self proclaimed gym nerd who has 0 time to keep up with the latest in gymnastics. The Gymnternet has been the most amazing go to source in the last few months for me! Within 5 minutes I feel like I can get all of the latest in gymnastics & not feel left out of the loop! Kudos to this awesome blogger!

Little Baby Garvin

You can’t read mommy blogs & NOT read Little Baby Garvin. Oh my goodness. These girls are not only adorable but she has some of the most creative ideas out there for holidays and decorating. I will warn you now…. you will feel like a mom failure sometimes reading her posts. She puts Pinterest mom’s to shame!

The Style Files

Style is far from my list of things I’m good at, but Val has some awesome posts about various types of style, fashion, etc. I actually knew Val in college so it’s been fun to watch her life after college unfold! Currently her style is maternity focused but there are some great ideas in the archives for various types of style! Oh, she’s a runner too.

Style Imagined

As an only child, I often wanted siblings. God dropped Karissa and I into a class together in college… it is safe to say the rest is history. She is one of my best friends & I love reading her blog updates starting with her move to Texas. It’s becoming more of a style blog, while I’m not into fashion I’m always looking for advice so check her out!

Yarn Harlot

If you know anything about the knitting world & knitting books… you must know Yarn Harlot. As one of the original knitting bloggers she has some of the most hilarious, yet relevant stories about knitting and life. I love the little door she has opened over the last 10 years for knitters to read. I won’t lie when I first found her blog in college I went back and read every entry. I still never miss one!

The Hungry Runner Girl

This is a newish blog to me, but I love watching the adventures of Hungry Runner Girl & her daughter Brooke each day. There is a lot about running but there is also a lot about food. She is currently training for Boston & shares her daily running adventures on the blog. I would consider it part mommy blog, part food blog & part running blog.

Run Eat Repeat

Also fairly new to me, Monica’s blog Run Eat Repeat cover two of my favorite things. Running & food. She runs a number of half marathons & marathons and shares lots of information about running gear, advice etc. If you like running & food…. head that way!

The Housewife Memoirs

During my weekly writing prompts I often mention Rebecca at The Housewife Memoirs. Yes, she is my sister in law but she is also a fantastic writer! She shares some of her favorite mommy tips & tricks as well as joins me on the weekly writing prompts. If you are not following her… you should be!

While you are busy reading all of my favorite blogs I’m off to try and figure out where the last two years have gone. I’m still not convinced that my little man is two, it seems like JUST yesterday we went through 18 hours of labor… and no I will not let him forget that.

Give me some new blogs to read, what are your favorite blogs? Do you read lots of blogs? Just a few blogs? No blogs? Share Below!

Patty Cake… Patty Cake…

Patty CakePatty cake, patty cake, baker’s mam;
Bake Me a Cake As fast As You Can.
Roll it…. & Roll it, and mark it with a K,
Put it in the oven for Kristin & Me.

A rhyme all children grow to love over time, Patty Cake (or Pat-A-Cake) has been around for centuries. Kids change it up to be exactly how they want it, but the idea stays the same. Let’s be honest, it’s all about the cake.

My grandmother loved to make dolls. Each one was hand stitched with a special heart put inside of it. She added her name to the back so there was no question who made the doll and what loving hands were passing it off.

PattyCake4In 1986 my grandmother made me my very first doll. Since I was around a year old the doll was about to go through a lot of abuse. Knowing that, she crafted it to be toddler proof. The hair was crazy, but perfect to be carried around by, the eyes were stitched in so no pieces were eaten & the doll in general was washable.

It is safe to say Patty Cake went through her abuse by toddler.

My grandmother passed away when I was four years old. She left behind a number of dolls passed around to many friends and family. Patty Cake will always be my favorite. She’s been there through good times & bad times. She will forever be toddler proof, but there are days where she shows her age.

When my grandfather entered hospice in 2008, Patty Cake came out from the pile of stuffed animals on my bed. I had already graduated college and was living on my own, but something about the comfort of a doll I had loved over the years gave me peace. Each week as I traveled from Indiana to Ohio Patty Cake road along with me. The weekend that my grandfather passed away, Patty Cake was in the room.

Somewhere along the line a few friends told me she was looking a little bit creepy. Her eyes were worn down to two strings, her mouth was long gone & her arms were discolored from many years of being tossed around. I reached out to my aunt who took over my grandma’s sewing & she was able to give Patty Cake just the treatment she needed. PattyCake2 Patty Cake came back cleaned up & refreshed. My aunt had restitched her eyes, nose & mouth. She also cleaned up my grandmother’s signature on the back. She was officially ready for another round of trouble with a new toddler.

For now Patty Cake sits among the piles of stuffed animals that belong to my little man. She comes out to play every so often, but for the most part just hangs out in the background.

To some she might be a little creepy, to me she shows years of love, wear and tear.

 

If you didn’t catch my first post, Rebecca from The Housewife Memoirs & I have challenged each other to keep up with a writing prompt from 1,000 Awesome Writing Prompts. Every few weeks we are choosing different prompts to challenge ourselves. 

This week’s prompt was:

Describe an important item from your childhood. Why was it important and where is it now?

Winning Balance By Shawn Johnson – Review

I’m a pretty big gymnastics nerd. In the last 5 or 6 years I’ve fallen back on my nerdiness and have gotten pretty far behind in new gymnastics books. Recently getting back into reading I picked up Winning Balance: What I’ve Learned So Far about Love, Faith, and Living Your Dreams by Shawn Johnson (2008 Olympic Gold & Silver Medalist). I originally had started this book back in March of last year but didn’t get too far into it before getting sidetracked by other things.

Going into this book I had to remind myself of the books I used to love reading in gymnastics by Dominique Moceanu & Shannon Miller. These books are about the gymnasts career & there is a certain level of “bragging rights” that they have gained throughout their career. I also had to remind myself that this is not a book originally intended for adults, it definitely has the target market of young gymnasts wanting to learn more about their idol.

Winning Balance is a cute book that covers most of Shawn Johnson’s gymnastics career. She talks about the ups and downs of gymnastics as well as what it was like behind the scenes. I loved her commentary on trying to balance out her life and how she talks about each of her “crushes” as she goes about the book. Shawn makes the point, multiple times throughout the book, that her parents really had set the goal of keeping her regular life balanced with her gymnastics life. She talks about both her gymnastics friends and her school friends along with her boyfriends throughout the book.

One of my favorite parts was when she talked about the Bejing Olympics. While the rest of her teammates had left to go back to the United States (for various reasons), Shawn stayed through the rest of the Olympics and was able to enjoy some of the events & spend time with a member of the cycling team she had developed a crush on. I loved how she talks about the fact that she has been on her own for the last 5 weeks and suddenly was back under her parents supervision and what an adjustment it is. Gymnasts of her caliber are forced to grow up fast, it was nice to hear her side of it where she still got to have a little bit of her teenaged side.

The book ends as Shawn is in training for the 2012 Olympics, while readers don’t necessarily see it at the time, Shawn does wind up retiring before the 2012 Olympics. Her career, as outlined in this book, is one of the most successful careers of USA Gymnastics. She came home from the 2008 Olympics with three silver medals and a gold medal, not many have brought home that many medals from a single Olympics.

Shawn’s spunky spirit & ongoing internal battles with growing up make Winning Balance a good read and one that I think all teenagers who are in the higher levels of gymnastics should read. She tells the truth about what it is like growing up & what it is like once the sport is over. It’s a quick read and was worth the few hours it took!

This was my “book you started, but never finished” from the 2015 Pop Sugar Challenge! 5 Books down!

Little Women Book Review

Oh Little Women. How can you not fall in love with the March sisters?

A loooong time ago I read a “kids version” of Little Women. I fell in love with the book and have seen the movie more times than I can count (although, not as many times as Wizard of Oz). Amazon often gives kindle deals and for the most part a number of the classics have remained free on Kindle over the years. I downloaded Little Women a few years ago with the intentions of reading it again. Finally, I decided this would be the year.

I forgot how long the original book was! It did not move nearly as fast as I thought it would, but I was okay with that. I always looked forward to my short bit of time each day eavesdropping on the day to day lives of Meg, Jo, Beth & Amy.

Meg is the eldest of the “Little Women” and very much holds the older sister or young mother role throughout the whole book. At the beginning she is a nanny for a local family & spends her days working. During a period of time when their mother is away she took over as the motherly figure in the family. Throughout the book we get to see Meg evolve into a mother & wife. She learns the ins and outs of motherhood along with how to keep the house neat and tidy for her husband, Mr. Brooks.

Beth is the third in line of the March women (I’ll get back to Jo later) and while she is the quiet one, she is also one of my favorite. Beth never truly gets the chance to grow up like the other girls. She is quote in the book as saying

“I’m not like the rest of you; I never made any plans about what I’d do when I grew up; I never thought of being married, as you did. I couldn’t seem to imagine myself anything but stupid little Beth, trotting about at home, of no use anywhere but there. I never wanted to go away, and the hard part now is leaving you all. I’m not afraid, but it seems as if I should be homesick for you even in heaven.”

This is one of my favorite quotes of the book. As morbid as that sounds, it sums up Beth’s character and her thoughts about seeing her sisters happy. She is worried more about the others than herself and I think that is why she is one of my favorites.

Amy, the youngest March girl, starts out the book acting like a spoiled brat. Then again, she’s 13 when the book begins. As Amy matures throughout the book, she befriends Aunt March who ultimately takes her to live abroad for a few years. Always an artist, Amy is often found painting or trying various types of art. After almost accepting a proposal from a young man named Fred, Amy realizes that it is more important to marry for love vs. money. A surprise twist to readers, in the end Amy ends up marrying a young fellow who readers come to know and love throughout the book.

Then there is Jo. In my opinion Jo is really the true main character of Little Women. I envision her telling the story throughout the entire novel, which I’m pretty sure was the point since she is the family writer. Jo is a free spirit & refuses to fall into the steps that society believes to be “proper” for women. When Amy worries about money, Jo corrects her. When Amy talks about marriage and love, Jo looks the other way. I think in the end Jo really is my favorite character in the novel. Her free spirit sets the tone for the changes that were not many years after the novels time period.  Out of all of the sisters, Jo is the one who deals withe most with Beth & her young life. She teaches Jo a lot and gives Jo a reason to look to the future & find her calling in life. Jo eventually does settle down & realizes what true love is after years of debates of love vs. friendship.

Readers also get the chance to fall in love with Theodore Laurence (also known as Laurie, also known as Teddy) as the book goes on. Jo befriends him early in the book and while the book does focus on the four “little women”, Laurie plays a major role in all four of their lives. From escorting Meg through a party she was uncomfortable with to befriending Amy in Nice during a homesick spell Laurie is one of my favorite characters (second only to Jo) in this book. Readers get to watch him mature and learn the difference between love and friendship as they watch him go through heartbreak, loss and learning to love again.

As the novel ends the “little women” are no longer little and they all have families of their own. Louisa May Alcott takes us through the lives of these women through good times and bad. We learn what it is like to fall in love, be in love with the idea of love and what it is like to experience heartbreak and rejection. Each of these women is unique with their own story to tell, but all together they make a family.

Finishing the novel I could just picture each of them running around with the children exactly as they are described. This truly is one of my favorite books & one that some day I might just have to pick up and read again.

This was my fourth book (yes fourth, my third book is a secret…. for now….) from the 2015 Pop Sugar Reading Challenge. It qualified for the book with 500 pages or more.

Freezing Friday Favorites

Freezing Friday FavoritesThe snow is attempting to melt but the temperature is preventing that from happening. Yesterday it was a whopping -6 degrees as we left our house in the morning and it is safe to say I would rather have stayed in front of the fireplace for the day.

Outside of playing Thomas & duplo blocks with my favorite little man all week I’ve found a few other things to keep me occupied inside during this freezing cold week. It is safe to say, Mother Nature is NOT at the top of my favorites list this week.

Goodreads

I have become addicted to this site! This year I made a point to get back into reading. I logged into my Goodreads account for the first time in a few years, imported all of my “to read” books from Amazon and have been finding so many more books I want to read. It’s awesome to see what my friends are reading, what new books are out there & see suggestions based on books I’ve already read. I’m not going to lie, it makes me feel accomplished to mark off further percentages in my books! Did you know they have book give aways too? Are we friends on Goodreads?

Gymcastic

Nerd alert! My sport has always been gymnastics. I could watch hours and hours of gymnastics (just ask my mom how many times she’s watched the Atlanta Olympics). I don’t always catch meets on TV (but am so thankful for USA Gymnastics’ YouTube page) but I love to keep up with the latest gymnastics news on Twitter. About two years ago the podcast, Gymcastic, emerged and has been a saving grace of catch all gymnastics news. Every once and awhile I get behind and then spend a week catching up. They’re hilarious & full of information, although I highly advise against listening to it with little ears around… they are PG-13.

Mucinex

Okay, I swear I’m not always about the cold medicine! We have been fighting nasty colds in our house most of the winter so we’ve tried a few different things. Sunday night I discovered Mucinex Sinus Max and this stuff was AWESOME! After not sleeping for more than a week the night time one finally helped me sleep without the cold medicine hang over that Nyquil always leaves me with. I promise, no more cold meds on Friday Favorites!

My Kindle

Last week was crazy. Absolute nuts. By the time Sunday rolled around, we had a happy toddler with his new Thomas toys and mommy hit the couch with her cold medicine and my Kindle. Reading a secret book (more on that in a few months) I didn’t move the entire day. It was amazing. I won’t lie, the only reason I even got dressed (at 6:30pm) was to go to Walgreens. Don’t judge, you know you love days like that on occasion too!

This is Why Moms Get Nothing Done

This Video. Watch It. You’ll understand.

What is your favorite thing this week? Comment below!

I’m a Mom… What’s Your Super Power

Smoothies, pants, shoes, socks, lunch, dinner planned, cheerios, apple juice not a smoothie, spiderman socks not mickey mouse socks, watch Thomas, start car, make coffee, fill with apple juice creamer.

Deep breath.

Mornings are crazy to begin with, throw in a toddler and life just gets more and more interesting. Starting the day off on two right feet usually means the day is off to a good start, but it all could change in an instant.

The smoothie maker squirts strawberry smoothie all over my shirt.

Mickey waffles from this weekend are gone so the debate of a morning graham cracker snack or applesauce becomes a strong one. Don’t even get me started on the fruit snack debate.

Goodbye hugs for daddy and Wrigley followed by many questions about whether daddy went to work or school. The answer is always the same, but it’s amazing how many different ways the question can be phrased.

As we walk out the door we say goodbye to Thomas or Pickle, whichever morning show we just watched 5 minutes of. We made it. Another normal morning that sometimes feels like complete chaos.

One of these days I’ll get it perfect. Maybe one day I’ll earn the title of Super Mom. For now I love every minute of just being “mom”.

If you didn’t catch my first post, Rebecca from The Housewife Memoirs & I have challenged each other to keep up with a writing prompt from 1,000 Awesome Writing Prompts. Every few weeks we are choosing different prompts to challenge ourselves. 

This week’s prompt was:

You are granted one super power. What is the power and what do you do with it?

Friday Favorites Valentine’s Day Edition

friday-favorites-week-two

Tomorrow is a day dedicated to love. Actually, it’s a day where I highly recommend avoiding going out to eat anywhere. Chances are you’ll wait 2.5 hours for a meal that really won’t be worth it. I’ll be celebrating my little man’s second birthday with family and friends, now that is my idea of a Valentine’s day celebration! For now, it’s my favorite day of the week…. Friday & I had a few things that made my week.

Nespresso Machine

If it is possible to love a coffee machine, I think this would be it for me. We recently got a hold of one at work and I think I am addicted. Well, I already knew I was addicted to caffeine, but this took care of my constant need for Starbucks. We have somewhere around 20 different flavors to try in the Nespresso Machine and I’ve had so much fun this week trying different ones with both my morning & afternoon coffee. Maybe that’s why my evenings were so productive?

Volleyball

Wednesday nights are mommy’s night out and that means a game of volleyball. I am horrible but it is so much fun to get out and bump the ball around. Bad day at the office? Hit a few balls around. Such a great stress reliever and fun time with new friends.

Infant Tylenol

It’s been a rough week full of sickness in our house & I couldn’t be more in love with Infant Tylenol. Not only have I been relying on the Nespresso machine to get me through the day, but Infant Tylenol has been amazing to help fight off fevers. How did people ever survive without this stuff? Right now I kind of want to hug whoever invented it.

PiYo

I’m a huge fan of Beach Body workouts and have completed all of Focus T25 recently. I had started Insanity Max 30 but with a running schedule it seemed like a little too much to be doing two larger workouts a day. A number of my friends had recommended PiYo. Luckily, one of my close friends had a copy of the DVD & was interested in borrowing my Insanity Max 30. A quick trade and we were both able to start a new program. I’m loving PiYo so far even though I’m only a few workouts in. It is the perfect addition to my running!

Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups

While the quick way to my heart is chocolate, the way to my whole heart is Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. On a whim I bought a bag this week and promptly sat and ate half of it. Oddly enough, I didn’t have an ounce of guilt about it. I mean, it’s valentine’s day week right? You’re supposed to eat all of the candy in the world?

What is your favorite thing this week?

Mommy Friends

I don’t know about you, but I’ve always had various groups of friends. There was my gymnastics friends, my work friends, my school friends, my church friends, etc. Sometimes they overlapped but for the most part each of us had a various set of interests that didn’t overlap all too often.

“You’ll understand someday when you’re a mom,” is a phrase often heard by girls who have yet to experience motherhood. Sometimes annoying, yet accurate as I went on to find out accurate.

Until I was pregnant with my little man, that phrase drove me nuts. I understood, I’ve been there, I babysat in the past. Yet, it wasn’t until I finally experienced it as a mom that I realized it really was a whole different world. I also didn’t realize there was a new, amazing group of friends I was about to run into. Mommy friends.

Mommy friends come from all walks of life. Their interests, backgrounds, jobs, etc don’t get in the way of the conversations you have. They can be the same as your church friends, your school friends or your work friends, but there are certain things you can say to your mommy friends that some friends might give you weird looks for. Trust me, I used to give the weird looks, now I’m the one holding the conversation.

Mommy friends are the kind of friends who don’t judge you when you show up in leggings & a hoodie with messy hair and no makeup after a long week. Chances are they are wearing a similar outfit. They’ll also hand you that glass if wine you have been looking forward to all week.

Mommy friends ask you the real questions about L&D. How long you pushed for, what kind of meds you had, how many times you got sick, etc.

Mommy friends are the friends who don’t yell at your for texting them at 2am. Actually, they’re happy to have the company and conversation. Not only will they text you back, they’ll sympathize with your little one’s lack of desire to sleep.

Mommy friends have conversations about pumping, milk supplies & your child’s eating habits all while enjoying a lunch break together.

Mommy friends understand why you hide in the closet with a bag of M&Ms and refuse to eat them in the kitchen where your toddler is playing.

Mommy friends don’t judge you for walking around singing the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse song because you can’t get it out of your head.

Mommy friends share a recipe for their toddlers new favorite food when your toddler refuses to eat anything.

Mommy friends are the kind of friends you can text “I hope *insert kids name* poops today” and mean it with all sincerity and love. They understand that you aren’t wishing a messy day on them, you are actually wishing for their little one to feel better.

Mommy friends are the friends who you will be forever grateful for, no matter where you end up in life.

What is the best part about your mommy friends?

Try Something New

volleyballThis summer a friend invited me to join her volleyball team over the winter. She asked if I had ever played before & seemed okay with my answer of “high school gym class”. At the time I was about 6 months into working out, running & eating pretty decent so I figured “what the heck” I’d find a way to make it work. I’m always up for the challenge to try something new.

Fast forward to the end of October & I quickly realized that I know nothing about volleyball. I have no idea how to serve the ball, every time I hit the ball it goes the opposite direction, yet somehow they didn’t kick me off the team.

Thinking back to high school gym class, I’m pretty sure we played volleyball with beach balls, not actual volleyballs. Not only did that mean I had never hit a real volleyball before, but it also meant I truly had no idea what I was doing.

Three months later I look forward to our Wednesday night games. I finally figured out how to serve, how to keep the ball in bounds (most of the time) and that just staring at the ball as it comes towards you doesn’t actually return it over the net. We might not be the top league or the top team in the area, but our weekly games bring lots of laughs, lots of fun & a chance to get out and get a workout in with friends.

With only a few weeks left of our weekly games, I will be sad that the season is over! When I first joined up I wasn’t sure how I would feel about five months of Wednesday night volleyball games, now I’m already looking forward to next year.

Have you ever challenged yourself to try something new? What was it?

 

Friday Favorites

Friday Favorites

Who doesn’t love Friday? After a little bit of a crazy week I’m always excited to plan out my weekend. This week has had a whole lot of life and not a lot of sanity associated with it. Thankfully I found a few favorite things that have helped make this week a little bit less crazy.

New Boots!

Technically I got these in the mail last week but finally had a chance to rock them this week. As someone who has never been fashion forward (or had any form of fashion sense) I never know where to start with shoe shopping. I’ve been wanting a cute pair of boots to wear with skinny jeans and leggings this winter. Finally I caught a good deal on Zulilly with the Reneeze Camel Kaya Fuzzy Collar Boots and I’m in love.

Then again, you get what you pay for. The klutz I am already managed to scuff them up twice, but hey for $20 I’ll take it!

Little Women

I set myself a goal this year of finishing 40 books & trying to complete most of, if not all of, the PopSugar reading challenge (which is actually 50 books). I’ve officially crossed the 60% mark in my 500 page book of Little Women. I love getting lost in the tales and stories of the March family. I was excited to re-read this book. The last time I read it was probably in elementary school and I’m pretty sure it was a kids version. The stories are wonderful and I find myself having a hard time putting it down!

My Personal Planner

Val did a personal planner review a few months ago on a new planner she received from Personal Planner. I had recently declared 2015 as the year I would finally get organized in day to day life & her review sold me on it. There has been a whole lot of “life” going on this week and without the ability to completely cover my planner with notes I wouldn’t have kept my head on straight.

Pomegranate Seeds

How was I not aware of these before? One reason I hate winter is because of the lack of fresh fruit available. I’m always on the hunt for something new. Someone recently posted a photo on Instagram with a picture of pomegranate seeds. I had never really paid too much attention to them but she had mentioned their health benefits. I’m always in love with trying new fruit. I went on a hunt. A friend finally told me to check Costco. I have fallen in love with a fruit. If you have never tried these before, you need to drop everything & go to Costco. They are a fruit game changer.

Pandora

I have a love hate relationship with Pandora. This week it is a favorite. Do you ever have that week when Pandora just gets you? It might help that I set it to the “teen pop” station. Win.

Running

Okay, it isn’t an “object” but the ability to borrow a treadmill to run this week is getting me excited for the next 12 weeks. I have signed up for & am starting training for the Owens Corning Half Marathon (as part of the Glass City Marathon races) at the end of April. After taking half of December and pretty much all of January off from running it feels so great to be able to clear my mind again. Now, if only this snow will melt so I can get outside.

What is your favorite thing this week?

Have you ever tried pomegranate seeds? Did they change your life?