Saturday, January 23, 2016

Exciting news...

I am so excited to share that I am a member of the FFCrew for 2016! I have known this and have been participating in the group through social media for over a month already but I was waiting for my crew kit to come to share the news.
I  am definitely impressed by what I have experienced so far being a part of FFCrew... so much love, acceptance, empowerment and support in the Facebook group and amazing insight in the book club (we are reading Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes... more about this in another post). This group of ladies is AMAZING and has far exceeded my expectations! The words on the shirt above try to sum it up but they don't even do it justice. I am honored to be apart of such an amazing group and can't wait to see what comes out of this year!

I have already made connections with a few local crew ladies . We did a meet-up a couple of weeks ago which was totally out of this introvert's comfort zone but I am so glad I took the chance and went... they were wonderful and were so welcoming! They made me feel a part of the group right away (they were all a part of Crew last year) and before we knew it two hours had passed. I am excited to get to know them better!

I got so excited to share this news that I guess I should back up a bit and explain Fellow Flowers.

 I first came across Fellow Flowers back in 2013. I had just dealt with having melanoma where I had surgery to remove part of my ear and reconstruction of my ear. I was also training for my first (and so far, only) marathon. I came across these two pictures that had been shared on social media and they TOTALLY resonated with me.

I saw Fellow Flowers on each of them and got curious. I decided to check it out and was pretty excited about what I found.... their philosophy spoke to me in so many ways with everything that I had just gone through and I was instantly in love with the meaning behind the flowers.

"Twelve different colors all representing different reasons, stories and purposes behind why we run. They are the true words spoken and inspired by real women. The flower is a symbol of friendship, strength and beauty. It represents your journey – the miles and the moments. The training and the transformation. The realization that your body is strong, and that your mind is even stronger. And it unites – this flower is rooted in friendship. Reminding us that we are in this together – always."- Fellow Flowers

I started to "stalk" their Facebook page and website and learned everything that I could. I loved that it all started with friends and the Green Bay Marathon. That was going to be my first marathon and the whole reason that I was going to be doing it was because of my best friend.  I had gone in 2012 to support my her (as a spectator) in doing it as her first marathon- long story short, she didn't finish (extreme heat stopped the race- mile 18 for her) and she had a mission to go back to conquer what she had set out to finish. After spectating we made it our mission to be there to do it with her... um, Fiercely United!

After "stalking" Fellow Flowers for a few weeks I learned that they were going to be at the Green Bay Marathon expo and I was beyond thrilled to meet them and get my own flower. The only problem was that I couldn't figure out what color I was. In the end it only made sense that my first flower be the orange flower. See above story. Fiercely United.

Over the past few years I have continued to follow Fellow Flowers on all social media platforms and I have continued to feel like they put into perfect words just how I felt. I have done several runs and races with my orange flower and have tossed around which other flowers I "was". I always felt like parts of the other flowers "spoke" to me but there were also parts that I didn't feel I fully lived up to so I stuck with my trusty orange flower.

Because of my flower I met an amazing woman at the Rock Your Socks 5K Run when we were in St. Louis for Scentsy Family Reunion and we keep in touch through Facebook to this day.

While doing the VetFest Half I got a boost of confidence when a man commented on my flower just as I was loosing steam.

It is amazing to me the power that a simple flower has.

Simply clipping it into my hair helps me remember that I am not alone on this journey or in my struggles.

Over time I have come to learn that you don't have to completely BE the color of the flower in that moment to wear it... maybe you ASPIRE to Be that color and that is exactly why you should wear it. Does that make sense?

I have branched out from my orange flower and am now the proud owner of several colors that I am working to embrace...

PURPLE-  no excuses

BLUE- content
TURQUOISE- believe, stay brave

Friday, January 22, 2016

High Five Friday

Today I am doing my first High Five Friday post! I have been following Happy Fit Mama on Instagram for a while now and have always enjoyed sharing in her journey through her pictures and her posts on that social media platform. Recently, I clicked on her profile and checked out her blog and fell in love with her "High Five Friday" posts. There is so much negativity in our lives and I love the idea of taking the time to reflect back on the good that happened throughout the week. The whole idea is to write a post filled with GOOD things from the week... it could be five pictures that make you happy. Five articles or blog posts that made you happy. It could be five things you ate... whatever it was that made you happy during the week. What a fun way to spread some joy!

You can follow my daily journey by following me on Instagram as well... it is probably my favorite Social Media Platform :)

1) First run with my turquoise flower and it felt so right!

2) Trying something new... love the flavor and light carbonation.

3) Patiently waiting for Ms. Shelby to walk with us. Getting caught up with a friend while being active is the best. (Plus, the unconditional love of this sweet girl always brings me joy!)

4) Getting more miles in outside with my hubby and oldest son.

5) Fully present. Calm, balanced, at peace... I am content... after a great run followed by my favorite yoga class.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Silver Dollar City

We made the decision to spend Christmas weekend in Missouri back in September. Everything just fell right making it the perfect year to make the trip there. Also part of the plan was to spend a day at Silver Dollar City. My dad and step-mom (Jill) made a trip there for Jill's birthday (or as Jill told me, so Dad could check it out to see if the boys would enjoy it). It met their approval so it was all planned.
As Christmas got closer we were all watching the weather for the Branson area and it wasn't looking good. Rain was in the forecast and the percentage chance kept going up, and up, and up. By the time we were leaving to drive to Missouri it was a 90-100% chance of rain for that weekend and I got a text to prepare the boys that the trip to Silver Dollar City might not happen.
Over Christmas Eve and Christmas Day we continued to watch the weather and it continued to look bad. Then as Christmas day was coming to a close it started to improve very slightly. We decided to go to bed and see what the day brought.
Saturday (December 26) we woke to thunder and lightening along with pouring down rain. But, Silver Dollar City was 2.5 hours away in Branson so that meant it might not necessarily be doing the same thing there. We checked the weather apps, the radar and even called the park... all to get the same message... it wasn't looking good. I am not even sure how it was decided but it was decided to make the 2.5 hour drive to "just see". We were all very aware that we might be driving that far to have lunch and then drive back. We drove in torrential down pours. If I was driving, I would have pulled over a few times. But as we got closer it started to let up. We pulled into the parking lot and there were a bunch of cars so we decided to give it a go. We boarded the bus and made our way to the gate.
We found a ride that was running because it was inside and decided to check it out. Aidan and Papa stayed behind as Aidan didn't want to ride. There were no lines and we were able to stay on the ride as many times as we wanted. Jill went and got Aidan and Papa to ride as well. After several times through we all met back up. It was still raining but was a bit more spotty and would stop every once in a while.

found in a store while waiting for Dad, Jill, and Aidan to finish their ride
 We decided that this magnet needed to be our motto for the day!

We spent some time exploring the park and getting the "lay of the land" while checking to see what rides were open... only 2 that were both indoors. We rode each several times. We grabbed lunch at an wonderful wood-fired pizza place and were back to exploring... to find that the rain had stopped.

We checked to see if any more rides had opened but there was still lightening "in the area" so we had to wait.

We found this fun ball room where you could shoot foam balls at each other through air cannons and the boys had a blast in there. Just as we were starting to get frustrated with the lack of rides being open we heard that they would be opening soon.

Tim, the big boys, Eric, Leslie and Jill (who all love rides) headed off to the big rides. Dad, Aidan and I (who don't love rides) stayed in the area that had rides for Aidan.

Aidan's favorite ride. He even got me and Jill each on it with him.

Dad and I took turns going on this one but it still wasn't as good as the Ladder Company drop one.

Aidan even got GJ on the dalmation ride. One time on that one was enough for me... I can't go in circles anymore!
My favorite lights.
As it got dark, the park was beautiful! Dad, Aidan and I rode the train and then we all met up again for the Christmas Light Parade.

My favorite tree in the park!

Once the parade was over we made our way back to our cars. As we were leaving the park we started to see lightening It looked like we had just made it! We got to see what we wanted (lights and parade) and everyone got to ride the rides that wanted at least a few times. We made the 2.5 hour drive back to Dad and Jill's house... in torrential rain! We got super lucky and managed to get the perfect window of clearing to enjoy the park. We knew it was a chance we were taking by making the drive but it all worked out and we had a great visit to Silver Dollar City. So many wonderful memories were made as a family and we can't wait to go back!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Christmas Celebrations 2, 3, and 4

I was so excited as ideas for my last post started coming to me that I completely skipped over the rest of our holiday celebration recaps. I know, the holidays are behind us (a few weeks already) and you are sooo disappointed. But, my blog also serves as a way for my family to look back so I am going to put it all out there anyway:) Please beware that this post is long but is full of great memories for my boys.

Christmas  #2- Tim's Mom

The weekend before Christmas we headed back to our hometown. Saturday evening was our second Christmas celebration, celebrating with Tim's mom. It was a nice, quiet (well, as quiet as it can be with three boys in the house) evening at her house with a wonderful meal followed by opening some gifts. It was wonderful to be able to have this time with her!

Sunday morning Tim and I got up and headed out for a quick run to try to maintain some sort of balance with all of the extra holiday goodies that we had been and would be enjoying.

After getting cleaned up and taking a family selfie with Uncle's new selfie stick, we were off to Christmas celebration #3, Grandma Betty's.

Celebrations at Grandma Betty's always = a full house which also equates to lots of shoes in the entry way of her farm house.

This isn't even half of the shoes :)

It can be hard to fit in sometimes but I love that we still get together with this extended family-Grandma, her kids (5 + 4 spouses), grandkids (10 + 8 spouses/significant others), and great-grandkids (13). I think this Christmas we were only missing 4 people from that group. I grew up very close to my grandma, my aunts, my uncle and all of my cousins so it is wonderful to maintain contact several times during the year for holidays. It is also fun to see my cousins (I am the oldest so I often helped take care of those younger ones) taking care of their own families now. Time sure flies!

While the food was finishing up and everyone was still gathering at the farm the kids we off and playing. After a wonderful meal, with WAY too much food, it was off to the basement for generation BINGO. Grandma Betty is known as BINGO Betty and loves her BINGO so it started with her playing a round with the "great-grands". The next round was with the "grands" followed by a round with the "kids" and any spouse/significant other who had not had a chance to participate. In the end everyone won a lottery ticket. It was so much fun to see Grandma Betty in her glory with each of the generations!

Generations BINGO with BINGO Betty
 Once everyone had their chance to play BINGO it was onto the gifts. As always we started with the littlest and worked our way up. You can bet this took some time but it was so much fun to see those little ones getting so excited.

family selfie while opening gifts

Four generation selfie- Grandma, Mom, Aidan and myself
There may or may not have been some wrapping paper ball wars following the opening of the gifts.

I have vowed to myself to make sure and get family pictures during events like this because you just never know. One of my cousin's wives lost her dad in early December, the day after they celebrated one of her kids birthdays, and they cherish those last pictures. Seeing/hearing that has really made me think... you just never know! Cherish every moment!

After helping clean up it was time to head back to town where we were meeting up with Tim's brother who was just getting into town from Virginia. This was going to be our only chance to visit with them while they were back in Iowa so we met up for pizza and visited for the evening before we had to head for home.

We had a few days of work (Monday and Tuesday for me, Monday - Wednesday for Tim) before heading out for our final Christmas celebration. Tuesday night once I was home from work we were able to squeeze in our traditional trip to Rotary Lights.

I am so glad that we were able to get to the park to see the lights. It is always one of the highlights of the Christmas season for me.

Wednesday was a mad scramble to finish laundry and pack. Oh, and don't forget to make some Christmas cookies!

 Once Tim got home we loaded up the car (with very little room to spare) and headed back to Iowa for the night. This helps to shorten the next days trip by nearly 2 hours.

Christmas #4- Missouri with my dad

We arrived to my dad's around 1:30 on Christmas Eve and it wasn't long and the boys were down on the dock fishing. I spent some time catching up with my step-mom and step-sister while we all waited for my step-brother to arrive. He was also making the drive from Wisconsin but didn't want to leave early enough to follow us. Once he was there we had dinner and then the boys got to open their gifts from us. We spent the rest of the evening playing games and catching up.

Christmas morning proved that Santa could find us even in Missouri. Papa even filled us in that Santa had called the night before to ask his address because he knew we were there but wasn't positive he had the right house. Santa was good to the whole family! I already shared a bit about our day in my Merry Christmas post but here are a few more pictures from the day.

gifts, gifts, and more gifts- we were definitely blessed!
figuring out those gifts while spending time with family

Family pictures

ending the night with some games- Pie Face anyone?
We definitely had a very blessed and memorable Christmas! Who would have thought we would spend Christmas day outside without coats, the boys getting to fish, going on Kabota rides, and flipping whipped cream in our faces on purpose?!?

Before leaving for Missouri I had a friend comment about all of our Christmas celebrations and the traveling that went along with them. She was a bit surprised by it all. When you live where nobody else from your family lives that is the reality. Traveling to see our families is our reality and it gets magnified during the holiday season when we are trying to fit everyone in. I want my boys to make their family a priority as they get older and I want them to know their extended family so it is priority that I make in our lives to spend time with everyone. The past month was crazy but it was a good crazy and many wonderful memories were made!

Our trip to Missouri didn't end there but the rest will come in the next post.