Finishing Last

On Saturday, I did the thing I’ve been telling myself it was time to do. I finally ran my first official (timed, registration fee) 5k race since having, no, since getting pregnant with the girls. Do the math. That’s 2 years plus 5 or 6 weeks. Yuck, right? Well, it taught me a vital lesson about finishing last and yet keeping my head up.

You see, I entered a low entry race in the small town down the river from my house. This was a duathlon, with most of the entrants doing the bike portion, too. Out of less than fifty competitors, I came in last.

5kFinish

It gave me a new appreciation for the runners who bring up the back of the pack. The runners who have to run knowing an ambulance is on their tail, waiting to sweep them if the timing gets too slow. Watching the lights reflect off the street signs as the pack ran away from me further and further down the street, tears came to my eyes. The people who finish last are some of the strongest mentally, because they don’t give up or give in.

At the .75 mark, I peered at my running app, my time was awesome, around my 2014 Relay pace, but I knew I couldn’t carry this weight at that pace for another 2.25 miles. My fellow racers (not my competition), were FAST!

I repeated words of the Runner’s Prayer that was read before the event as I finished that next mile, hoping I’d see Greg and the twins to give me that next boost of strength I needed – those lights seemed to be getting closer!

Lord, Let me win. Not by coming in ahead of my friends, but by beating myself. Let it be an inner win. A battle won over me. And may I say at the end, “I have fought a good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith.”

– Source: http://www.runningintheusa.com/tcon5k/RunnersPrayer.pdf

This was truly a battle over me, and my spirit was high. I was enjoying the scenes around me – old mills along the rails to trails. I was ready to run, but not mentally prepared with being last.

Finally, near the midway point, Greg came down the trail to me. We talked, which kept me slower than I’d hoped at that point, but it gave me what I needed – the pride in why I run. I moved on, and knew the back portion of the trail and road, all in the sun would be tough.

But that wasn’t the hardest part. No, that was crossing the finish line last. Crying as all those who’d finished before me clapped for the big girl who actually did it, crossed that line. I felt embarrassed, but proud. I did something I’d set my mind to and in a better time than the first time I’d tried. Was that not enough?

Those who run and have never experienced finishing last, it’s a pretty intense thing. Humbled, proud, emotional. It’s not for the weak, that’s for sure. And I won that day, in both the battle over myself and the additional pounds I can’t seem to drop as well as in my age division for females. It was a pretty proud moment, finishing last.

Zebras in my Backyard

Yinz. For the next three nights, I’ll go to bed knowing that there are zebras in my backyard.

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And there are buffalo just off to the left. For reals.

This is what happens when you are on a work trip to Nemacolin. Hope all of YOUR weekends have been amazingly memorable, too. Speaking of memorable, have you headed over to my latest giveaway for a Picture Keeper Connect? It’s ending in just two days, so be sure to enter NOW! xoxo

 

Do Life Together

This is yet another Sunday night leaving me to wonder where time went. This was a weekend full of things that filled my cup, topped off by a great message this morning at church with part that really stuck with me. Do life together.

In our church talks today, that was specifically a reference to how we can team up against Satan. When we find people we can fellowship with, we link our arms together in this battle. 

Like I said, this really stuck with me. 

We started at this church about a year ago and have slowly but surely started to find some great people to do life with. Hopefully this fall we will be part of a home group to grow closer, too. 

But I couldn’t help but think of the others in my life who I am so glad I have linked my arms with in battle. 

Missy and Tom. My bestie and her husband. I know they pray for us, and I know I’ve been fervently praying for them. 

Brandee, my Thirty-One Sister and friend (and her husband Wayne and baby E). 

Our siblings, parents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. It’s hard to find people you can call family AND friends, but we pretty much hit the jackpot when it comes to family.

Many of us riding “it’s a small world”

The Resting Place Ladies. Tonight, even! I’ve been so lucky to have a group of loving and supportive friends. 

Some of us shopping in January

And these are just a few! Seriously, I feel so blessed to have some many great people to do life together with! Hopefully you all can say the same…that you’ve got yourself a group of good, loving people to go to battle with you. To pray for you. To build you up. To have you when you fall. To love you. Right?

National Friendship Day: Connect Better!

National Friendship Day: Connect Better

nationalfriendshipdayconnectbetter

“Why is every day a national something day?” Evan asked this morning as I sniffed gorgeous lilies and roses. I had just told him and Arianna that it was National Friendship Day and that they needed to connect better with the people that have been put in their lives as friends. “Like yesterday was National Twin Day, when’s it ever National High Five Day, or something cool?”

Honestly, I think today is  a pretty cool National-something day. August 7 is National Friendship Day, a day to celebrate friends and what they mean to us. That’s pretty cool if you ask me. So, what about this Connect Better thing?

National Friendship Day: Connect Better

This is a theme that FTD, the Florists who transport flowers around the globe through FTD.com, has decided would be a great initiative to celebrate National Friendship Day. They asked me to pick a Blogging Bestie, someone I’ve really connected with, to celebrate today…and the would surprised her with a bouquet of flowers.

Who would I pick?!?!?! I’ve got so many great friends, so many of them are great blogging buddies. The choice was hard, but this pick went to Ashley of ashleysuzanne.com. I met Ashley last year at Blogger Bash NYC and she stood out to me because she was so kind to the twins and I at Babypalooza. Icing on the cake? She’s a baby whisperer (the twins can attest), RN, a child of God, and a writer who brings all things baby to her space in the bloggysphere. Her southern drawl and charm are the cherry on top of her sweetness.

(Another great blogging buddy, Billie) + Ashley + Me @ BBNYC
(Another great blogging buddy, Billie) + Ashley + Me @ BBNYC
When Ashley started posting things in the BBNYC Facebook Group, sharing how she was getting ready for the event, I remembered her awesomeness and kept thinking “Hey, that’s exactly what I did today (like charging and packing four extra power sources for our phones). We re-connected and then enjoyed plenty of fun on the Yacht together, learning about some of the best brands for babies and kids.

After the event, Ashley continues to be a light in my life. She’s bubbly, kind, and is even working on a local mom panel, focused on products and connections. Her blog theme is a great one to live by…

Do it with Passion! or not at all

I’ve truly felt Connect Better with Ashley, and am so glad I was able to surprise her with a beautiful bouquet of roses and lilies this weekend to celebrate National Friendship Day.

FTD Bouquet

While it might be a little late in the day to send pretty flowers to your bestie, take a few moments to make them feel special today. If you feel like getting them flowers to say “sorry I didn’t know about this day, you’re still so awesome to me”, head over to FTD and find some roses to share your love for them. (I picked Ashley’s from this list of roses.)

Follow along the fun on social media with #ConnectBetter to see how other bloggers are celebrating their Blogging Besties today. xoxo

Thanks, Ashley, for being so awesome, and FTD for the roses! 

find your tribe

 

Once I Was Seven Years

It’s hard to believe that eight years ago this gorgeous being was tucked away nicely in my belly. Or that I’m *old enough* to have a seven-year-old. Isn’t that me in the dress?

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Ever my mini-me, Arianna. She’s growing so fast, isn’t she?

Things like her helping with dinner and the babies have made Greg and I realize we don’t have four babies on our hands anymore. We have a child who is closer to being a teenager than she is a baby.

She might be scared of all the learning to come in second grade, but we know that she’ll shoot for the moon and pass it right on by. Just like she has ever since she became the center of our worlds.

Blogger Bash NYC 2016

What a whirlwind the last week and a half has been. Last Tuesday, after an early start to my work day, we packed the family in the van and headed to New York City for Blogger Bash NYC 2016. It was my time to work on this here blog and get inspired to keep bringing stories here.

Like last year, I had some really great moments; however, unlike last year, I’ll just share my thoughts versus going for a “top 5” list. There’s so much to tell you and we’ll let this post serve as my link up to other posts about my two days growing my blog, deal? Deal.

Blogger Bash NYC 2016

Care Bears Brunch

You guys. Next year, Care Bears will be turning 35. I can’t even find words. There are some cool things coming that I hope to share with you, but let me tell you that Blogger Bash and Care Bears picking Funshine Bear as the bear to start off our two days together was simply perfect. I was quickly reunited with some of my favorite BBNYC pals and met new friends whom either were new to the conference or I didn’t get to meet last year thanks to carrying the twins around with me. What a great start.

CareBearsBrunch

Blogging Concentrated

This was almost my favorite part of the whole event. We were blessed with the opportunity to attend a shortened version of Blogging Concentrated led by Dan and Rachel. I was extremely grateful for the learning I got during this time and am ready to take this blog to new levels. Having a blog is a business, and it’s not always easy. You don’t just type words on a screen and let them stick, because they won’t. It’s work, but work I am ready to keep in my life. Thanks for the inspiration and tips!

Sweet Suite

Truly, this event is the biggest night of play. I joined the 400+ bloggers and YouTube families talking to three yacht levels’ worth of brands who brought the latest and greatest toys. After the event, we were sent a Box o’ Swag that the kids have been working on reviewing. The night ROCKED and not just because we were on the Majesty Yacht before a storm on the Hudson River. *wink*

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hexbug

…more photos to come!…

Kate & Mim-Mim Breakfast

I did my homework, like any good smart kid does, the night before this event. Confession, I didn’t know about Kate and Mim-Mim. Evan (my 5-year-old) informed me that it’s “a baby show on Disney Junior” but that he likes to watch it with his baby sisters. Go figure, he was quite excited when I showed him the picture of me and Mim-Mim the next evening.

During this breakfast (which was much needed to fuel the day – I wasn’t too happy with food / drink through the rest of the event until the closing party), we heard from the creators of the show. It was cool to hear they’d based it off their own daughter and her stuffed bunny…and that the kids keep them in check when they are working on the show’s content (like one of their sons is all about continuity of the story around a child’s blanket – they speak my language because I hate when shows do this – I notice!).

katemimmim

Babypalooza

Having babies, this was the event that I most looked forward to, but unfortunately liked least. The space given to it on the yacht was crammed…and there weren’t options for those who weren’t totally interested in baby products to be for about the first 45 minutes. It made connections tougher than usual, but I think I faired okay. Stand out brands I met with were Tula (swoon!), Oilogic, Potette, Evenflo, DOM, Fresh Wave, and Dolphin Organics. More to come on these!

Expo

All day, an expo was set up on the 2nd and 3rd floors. There were more brands than I was able to get to, but an AMAZING selection. At conferences like this, you really have to plan your connections. The only thing I’d have changed about this time was that I would have wanted a map of the booths and a clearer communication about the time they were ending. (The event ran until 4:30, but some booths packed up at 3:45, meaning I really couldn’t get them all in.) So many cool things to bring your way, though!

Peanuts Keynote Lunch

We got to hear from Ginger Zee (of Good Morning America) and the voices of the Peanuts Movie cast. These kids are super! The boy who is the voice of Linus brought his blankie (which stayed with mom, but I got to see it because she was seated right in front of me). This was a really cool part of the event because of the personal connections with the actors and Ginger (who is also a pretty new mom who is back to work).

Snooki and JWOWW Keynote

I’ll say it – I was fangirling when I heard that Nicole (Snooki) and Jenni (JWOWW) from Jersey Shore and Snooki & JWOWW would be speaking at this event. (Hey, I’m an MTV kid late to the game!) They answered questions about life after their shows and as married, working moms. While we don’t have a ton in common, I felt like I was connecting with their responses and that all of us moms have similar struggles.

The pair wasn’t taking the boat rocking well, so the questions were cut short, but I was selected to have a question asked, so I got to take a photo with them afterwards. You know me and celeb photo opps, so yup, I did it.

jennibeckynicole
Source: Blogger Bash / The Toy Insider

Shop Ireland

As an Irish girl, I enjoyed connecting with some brands from Ireland that were showcasing their products with us. The time was all too short and the space was tight, but I have a few fun posts coming your way in the next few months thanks to this event.

Closing Party

We were on a boat, after all, so what better way to end the event than a sailing on the Hudson River. After two full working days of smiling, connecting, and talking “shop”, it was good to let loose and enjoy some time with friends. We even went right past the Statue of Liberty just moments after Greg and the kids went by on the Staten Island Ferry.

statueofliberty

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Blogger Bash NYC 2016 was a blogging conference that I attended as professional development for my blog. I’ll be adding below links to opportunities that came about thanks to this event. Kudos to the team behind the event – it was awesome!

If you are a blogger and want to find out more, go to bloggerbash.com to keep informed about 2017!

7 Years 4 Months 8 Days

…and it is time to start a new chapter in my life. After 7 years, 4 months, and 8 days, my last day with my (current) employer is tomorrow.

I think you can tell I (currently) work for a major grocery retailer here in Pittsburgh. What you might not know is that in my time there in the IT Department, I have done (and learned) so many things…

Retail Support Inventory
Quality Assurance
Process Improvement
Measurement and Reporting
Chargeback
Salesforce Administration
Technology Service Desk
Business Analysis
Project Server
Service Now

And through all that, I learned what I liked about each role. Somewhere in the middle, my heart went and fell hard for Salesforce. Over the past few years, I’ve continued to support the tool while taking on what felt like three more jobs. I didn’t realize how this made me feel until another opportunity to admin the tool for another company came around.

It’s bittersweet, leaving something I’ve known for so long, but I will be just fine in my new role at my new employer. I did it before…leaving teaching and starting this path.

It’s exciting and motivating…and time to start focusing on my growth and health again, too. I’ve missed this girl…but I know she’s hiding in there with a big smile. What’s more…my kids have missed her…and two didn’t even know that version of me.

Happy. Healthy. Hungry for success. That girl.

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What have you started new lately? How did it feel? How did it turn out?

My Choice

Today, the kids and I spent our second to last “just us” Sunday (SQUEE!) walking in the Walk Strong (Walk for Life) for our local ministry dedicated to offering support and education for women (and men) in difficult pregnancy situations. It was a very special day for me because a little over 7 years ago, I made my choice to have a very special ‘lil lady come into my life.

my choice

I made my choice that she wouldn’t be a statistic, “just another” one baby lost among 58 million aborted since 1973. I made my choice that I’d raise this ‘lil girl to become a woman who understood right from wrong. I made my choice to love her unconditionally. I am so glad I did. 

Even more…today was ten years to the day that my world completely changed. The day that I realized men wouldn’t always be loving and kind. The day that physically changed me. I can’t say today was an easy day knowing this, but that means oh so very much. It’s been over 7 years since I freed myself of those chains. It’s been 10 years since I can call myself a survivor. I don’t mention this to stir up emotions, but to remind myself of my strength, the strength given to me when I was weak because God is strong. It meant a lot to walk strong today.

If you’d like to hear more about the organization that we walked for today, check out Life Choices. They’ve been a changer in lives of many people in my area, including mine. I can honestly say without the knowledge of this organization (through my dad), I am not 100% sure my choice would have been the same back in 2008. For this, I am so very, very thankful.

Coffee Cookies and Coloring

Tonight we were supposed to go to The Lantern Fest, but hopefully everyone who snagged tickets (THANK YOU!) realized it was postponed until June 4. Instead, the kids and I spent the evening inside with some coffee, cookies, and coloring.

coffee cookies coloring

Okay. They didn’t have coffee. They had cookies. And…they didn’t color. They watched me. And they asked a lot of questions.

Like…

What kind of crayons are you using? I wasn’t using crayons. I was using Crayola Twistables Colored Pencils. They are like my favorite leggings, buttery smooth.

Can we have a cookie? Sure, but just the Thin Mints. Mommy only has a very tiny stash of four lonely Samoas left and they’re all mine (two remain).

Why are you coloring in your Bible? Is that really allowed? I’m sure your Pappy would have a good reason why it “wouldn’t be allowed”, but Mommy is doodling when a Bible verse speaks to her (like she did with chalk yesterday). This is a special journaling Bible and I draw in it.

journaling bible

What does that verse mean? I John  5:14-15 are about fervent prayer, asking for things to be done in God’s will. I’ve been doing this lately. There are big things I want for my family. Big things that would likely mean a few changes but a happier Mama. When we pray that God does for us what is in His will, those big things happen. Sometimes they are scary, but when we realize they are exactly what we asked for, they are right and good.

Can you use the teal to color soulOddly, yes. The teal is calling to me, so I am going to color with it.

adult coloring book

Why aren’t our coloring books that neat? Actually, kids, they are. They are so neat that adults have now starting using adult coloring books to make them feel better, more like a kid. I’m jealous. And yes, I’ll color in your coloring books with you tomorrow.

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