My Hurricane Irma Story

A lot of people have been asking me questions regarding the hurricane, our last minute decision to evacuate, and our travel there and back, so I decided to do a blog post recapping the whole ordeal, here we go!

Some of you may remember that Bobby and I were supposed to go on a Carnival cruise leaving out of Miami on Saturday, September 9th. Because of this, I had been watching the tropics extra close, and Irma was making me nervous the closer she got. At first we thought she would turn north and be long gone before our cruise, but then she started going more and more west, and I started getting bummed thinking about our cruise being cancelled.

Soon enough, my sadness turned to fear as I realized the storm was coming even MORE west, right to the east coast of Florida. We had come to terms with the fact that our vacation wasn’t going to happen, and switched gears to “OK so what the heck do we do here at the house?”

Keep in mind I grew up in a suburb of New Orleans and lived in Biloxi as an adult, so I have been through many hurricanes, sometimes we evacuated, sometimes we didn’t. At this point, we had planned to stay. They were saying at worst Irma was going to be a cat 3, and at that point she was still going to the eastern side of Florida. The storm was huge, so we knew we would still get bad wind and rain, but it would be manageable.

All day Friday I watched each new update like a crazy person. I had four newscasters I was following along with via Facebook live, and I was soaking up every bit of information I could. At this point, Bobby’s work had been cancelled as well as Emma Kate’s school, and my parents had evacuated up to our house. We were all set to stay. We had food, water, candles, and flashlights. But yet, with each new update, the storm was moving slightly further west. I could barely eat all day, I just didn’t know what we should do. We had no hurricane shutters or boards for our windows. Stay or go, stay or go….the traffic…ug. Ok we are staying.

That is until the 11:00 update on Friday night. My parents and Emma Kate were asleep, and I was in bed watching the newest model runs. They had moved the eye directly over my house, and said it would be a category four once it hit Tampa. My stomach did a back flip. Katrina was a 3 and that was awful for my hometown. I don’t know if I can do a four, especially with my two year old. At that point, my mama instincts kicked in. I went into the bonus room and told Bobby “I think we need to leave.”

We discussed the logistics for a few minutes, and then he agreed with me. If we lost power it would be miserably hot in the house, and EK would never sleep. Also, we only have one interior hallway downstairs and one bedroom downstairs and the storm was hitting us at night. Trying to explain to Emma Kate why we had to be still in a hall for several hours would be difficult and she would be terrified. We had lived in Atlanta for a few years when I was a child so we had plenty of friends to stay with that had already invited us into their home so that wasn’t a problem. Now it came down to getting all our patio furniture inside, securing the house, and loading up two cars, five people, and a dog as quickly as possible. We thought about leaving the next day but figured traffic would be slowest in the middle of the night.

I went downstairs and woke up my parents telling them the latest news. They jumped out of bed and we all sprang into action. Throwing things into suitcases, dragging in furniture from outside, loading up food, water, and dog food, trying to remember all the things we needed to do and bring. At the end of it all my kitchen table was against the front door and our grill was in my dining room.

We waited to wake up Emma Kate until right before we left, then I had to

pack up all the stuff in her room. It is really a very surreal feeling looking around your house, trying to figure out what to take with you that will fit in your car, knowing this may be the last time you step foot in your house. It really truly put things into perspective in terms of what we “need” in our house. Most of it is just stuff, and I didn’t feel compelled to try and pack it. My brain was going a mile a minute and I didn’t even think to bring photo albums or baby books or things of that nature.

By 12:30, the house was secure and we were rolling out o

 

f the neighborhood loaded down in two cars. I took the lead, and it was smooth sailing…until we got to the interstate. It was pretty bumper to bumper which was crazy to be because it was almost 1:00! We had downloaded the gas buddy app and it was such a life saver. We stopped in Gainesville for gas, and thankfully they had a good operation going where they were directing traffic and putting you in lines depending on what side of your car your gas tank was on. We only had to wait about 10 minutes, and Emma Kate and I went next door to Walgreens to use the bathroom. Bobby sent me over with a night stick of course. It was a bit of a sketchy area but he had to stay in line with the car so off we went.

By 5:00, we were getting pretty hungry, so we stopped at

a McDonalds (the only thing open) somewhere in Georgia…along with all the other evacuees. I grabbed a coffee since I was doing most of the driving (Bobby’s driving terrifies me) and we were on the road again. The last 3 hours felt like FOREVER getting up to Atlanta. We got stuck in several dead stand still traffic areas due to wrecks and slowdowns.

Emma Kate was watching YouTube Kids on my phone, and said her belly hurt. I didn’t think much of it because she says that sometimes and it’s usually nothing, but then it happened….she threw up all over herself and her car seat. In the middle of a traffic jam. She got super upset and wanted to change but there was nowhere for us to go, we were gridlocked. I tried to clean her up and calm her down the best I could until we could get off the interstate at this little country gas station that actually had super clean bathrooms! We changed her clothes, all took a little breather, and got back on the road.

We were actually staying north east of Atlanta, so it took us awhile to get around to where we needed to go. We arrived around 11:00 after 10.5 hours of driving, and were all exhausted. One thing we had not thought about was the weather, IT WAS COLD! We were all in shorts and t-shirts. We unloaded the cars, and at that point I have no idea how I was still standing. I had been awake for 29 hours and drove most of the way. Since my parents had slept about two hours before I woke them up to leave the night before, they graciously agreed to watch EK so we could nap. I was only weirdly able to sleep about 50 minutes, but Bobby got in a solid 3-4 hours which was good.

Our friends were amazing hosts, and fed us so well. We hung out in the backyard, took Emma Kate on the gator over to the playground at the preschool I attended as a child (the people we were staying with own it) ate dinner outside and just enjoyed being safe, and also enjoyed the wonderful weather. (We cannot sit outside and eat in Tampa, we would melt!) Emma Kate slept on the floor of my parents room on a cot and Bobby and I had the sofas in the living room. I think at that point I could have slept on a rock and not moved all night.

Of course the next day (Sunday) we closely watched the weather, but also knew we had to get out of the house. After an amazing breakfast, we took her to a local park, and it was so cold! Bobby and I walked around a beautiful trail and Emma Kate and my parents played on the playground.

When we got back to the house, my mom and I went to Kohl’s and got Emma Kate some pants, a long sleeved shirt, and a jacket. We also learned Sunday afternoon that they were not expecting the hurricane to be a 4 when it reached Tampa, thank the Lord!

Our next door neighbor staying behind and gave us updates Sunday night and we were happy to hear Monday morning that the house was fine, and also that we still had power! There had been a small issue with some looters in the area which was my next concern but thankfully all was OK. It rained all day Monday and the wind got pretty bad. We were staying in a more county town with lots of pine trees, so believe it or not, we lost power Monday afternoon!

Thankfully they had a generator so we were able to have light, watch TV, and keep the food cold. We grilled hot dogs in the storm, and since it was so cool outside, it wasn’t miserable at all to sleep in.

We decided to leave Tuesday, and looking back that was a BAD idea. I really had no idea just how bad traffic would be. I relied on Google Maps, and it had us taking back roads for the first couple hours before putting us back on the interstate. It was pure misery–bumper to bumper stop and go literally the the whole drive home. My biggest fear was finding gas. Thankfully my dad has bought two 5 gallon containers and filled them up the day before, but even still that wouldn’t be enough to get us home.

We were able to wait in line in Tifton and find gas, but it was a pretty stressful situation. We were all tired, Emma Kate was bored, tempers were flaring, and we were all ready to get out of the car. At one point we stopped at a rest stop and all they had available were port-o-potties and there were people everywhere. The whole thing was just a huge mess. It ended up taking us 14.5 hours to get home. We left Atlanta around 9:00 AM and got home at almost midnight. The drive would normally take about 6.5 hours I think.

We were SO blessed and thankful to have no damage, water, etc. I know some were not that lucky. But I will say, it’s going to take a LOT to make me evacuate again after the mess we had to go through to get there and back. Please continue to pray as some still don’t have power, and have lost everything. Thank you all for your kind words, thoughts, and prayers as we were going through all of this. It means a lot!

 

Early Birthday Surprise

Last Tuesday, I came home from picking Emma Kate up at daycare, and there were a bunch of people in my house. Surprise! Happy early birthday to me!

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My sweet husband planned this all for me, and manned the grill cooking chicken, burgers, hot dogs, sausage, sweet potato fries, etc. My friends brought some delicious appetizers, and we had quite the feast! (and quite the leftovers)

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Even champagne. Cheers!

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It was so great to see my friends and their families all at my house for an early birthday surprise. (Of course Emma Kate is shoving food in her mouth).

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He even got me a cookie cake! Emma Kate was all about that.

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I love these girls so much and am so thankful they are in my life and came to celebrate me!

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Most everyone has little ones so the party was over by 7:30, but I had a blast with my gal pals. A huge thanks to my sweet husband for thinking of me! Does this mean I get to celebrate my birthday again in July?

QOTD: Have you ever had a surprise birthday party?

Snowballs, Sweet Tea, and Sunny Days

Happy Monday! We had a great weekend and I hope that you did, too. We drove to south Louisiana to visit my parents for the weekend and it went by way too fast! My dad had foot surgery back in March which left him unable to walk on his foot for about 6 weeks, and now he is in a boot and allowed to put a little pressure on his heel but is still pretty immobile. He has been going stir crazy so we served as a distraction for a couple of days.

We arrived Friday afternoon to gorgeous warm (but not humid) weather. We sat out on the back porch and ate pizza for dinner and caught up. Saturday morning, I went for a run on another beautiful day while my mom and dad watched Emma Kate.

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I ran 4 miles at a not easy but not hard pace, and I felt great which was really nice! They have really shaded streets and it was so flat, which helped I’m sure. I cooled off on the front porch. It was so beautiful outside I felt guilt going in!

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My parents went to a crawfish boil, and Bobby and I met up with Jen her husband, and her kiddos for lunch. We met at this same restaurant when we were pregnant with our kids, and they were born nine days apart! Check out the 2014 pic and then the one from this weekend!

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These two were so cute running circles around a big tree chasing each other. Emma Kate kept trying to hold her friends’ hand. I have a feeling the teen years are going to be rough on us.

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We got home and put Emma Kate down for a nap and just hung out outside waiting for my parents to get home.

c61e9a14-125c-43f9-848f-7a494786bc1aThen my dad and I went to get a snowball. I was stoked because it was the first one I have had since last summer.

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I went all out. Wedding cake cream with condensed milk. Totally worth it.

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When we got back, we decided to let Emma Kate play on the back patio with a house and some bowls and things. She had a BLAST and entertained herself for at least an hour, which is a record for the attention span! Bobby and my dad BBQ’ed while the water fun was happening.

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We just relaxed at the house Saturday evening, and then Sunday after a lunch of leftovers it was time to go home (we travel during nap time.) I had to stop at PJ’s of course because the southern wedding cake velvet ice is back for summer! It’s totally delicious and again, worth every calorie.

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Now it’s back to the work week grind for us! As usual the weekend flew by but it was a fun one.

A huge thank you to those who signed up for my free “how to start a blog” e-course! I am getting great feedback so far and I hope I have answered some of your questions. You can still sign up here.

QOTD: Favorite thing to BBQ? Best snowball flavor?

5 Top Moments from Refresh Summit

Hello friends! I am back! I had every intention of having a blog post written Sunday night to go up Monday, but I did NOT intend to catch a bad cold and feel like crap when I got home Sunday night! I think I am getting better thankfully. What timing, huh? The sickness didn’t stop me form having a great time in Tennessee for Refresh Summit.

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We spent the weekend at the beautiful Deer Run retreat center just outside of Nashville.

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Instead of recapping everything we did, I just wanted to share my 5 favorite moments:

1.) 80’s glow in the dark Zumba party: OH MY GOSH so much fun. Zumba has never really been my “thing”, but this was a BLAST. Since it was Halloween, we had an 80’s theme. We turned out the lights, donned a ton of glow in the dark jewelry, and danced our booties off to 80’s music. It. was. amazing.

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2.) Sharing my heart in my workshop: I had the privilege of leading a workshop twice, sharing my heart about social media, the negative side of things, the comparison trap, and having a healthy view of social media. (I fully intend to make this into a blog post at some point, so hang tight.) I had forgotten how much I enjoyed speaking and sharing what God is and has done in my life, and it lit a fire in me to do it more often, so hopefully I will have the opportunity!

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3.) Chatting with friends: Old friends and new alike, I enjoyed each and every woman I met at the summit. Everyone had such a unique story, and I am so happy to have met them all. I will admit, at first I felt a bit like the odd man out since a large portion of the people there had attended last year and all knew each other, but it didn’t take long to jump right in and get to know everyone. That’s one thing I loved about this particular retreat, we got to have some down time to get to know each other instead of just GO GO GO non stop.

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4.) Meals: Ah, the food. We had some amazing meals at Deer Run put on by the staff, then we also had a breakfast sponsored by Love Grown, and a lunch sponsored by Chipotle! Both were delicious. So many good eats all weekend long.

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5.) Worship time: We have several times where we sat and sang/worshiped. and we had the privilege of being led by the wonderful Rhyan Shirley. She wrote the song “You Are” that you may have heard Colton Dixon sing on the radio. She did a great job and I truly enjoyed her music and guitar playing. unnamed (55)

All in All, Refresh Summit was amazing, and the hosts put in so much hard work to make sure it was a great experience for all, and I was grateful for their hard work, and blessed in so many different ways. If you have a chance to go next year I highly recommend it! There will also be one out in California in April if you live on the west coast.

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QOTD: have you ever gone on a fitness or women’s retreat?

Lately I’ve Been

I’ve seen this blog post circling around the interwebs, and thought it would be a fun one to do for myself. Yes, I was that geek that would take surveys and forward them on to my friends back in the late 1990’s when we finally got the internet. Oy.

Lately I’ve been…

Making: Lots of smoothies in my nutribullet. It’s so hot outside and smoothies are a great breakfast option.

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Cooking: Pretty much the same boring stuff, I seem to go in a rotation. I need to make new things!

Drinking: Tons and tons of water! It’s so hot outside, it’s necessary to stay hydrated. Plus, it’s just good for you!

Reading: Nobody’s Cuter Than You. My Bible study group is reading it after we read her last book, Antelope in the living room. Both great reads that have me in stitches every chapter.

Wanting: The weather to cool off. It’s hard to go for walks with Emma Kate, even at 7:00 in the morning.

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Looking: Forward to going to the beach next week! Spending time with Bobby and my parents is always fun!

Playing: A lot with Emma Kate. She is very mobile now so now she chases after toys and it’s fun to see which direction she goes first!

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Wasting: too much time on Facebook. Such a time suck.

Wishing: Moms, and women in general would be more encouraging and uplifting towards each other. So many women are so insecure in themselves they feel like they have to tear others down, which makes me sad for them. Life is too short! Be kind!

Enjoying: The daylight that lasts well past 8:00. I dread the darkness at 5:00, it depresses me!

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Waiting: Ha. For a LOT of things to happen. I’m not so good at the waiting. I think God may be trying to teach me something…

Liking: Nashville. I just started watching it on Hulu. Anyone else a fan?

Wondering: Why I am such a worrier. Things always work out in the end, I just struggle with the waiting parts.

Loving: That 4th of July is this weekend! Loving all the flags I am seeing around town, and the patriotic wreaths, décor, etc.

Hoping: Emma Kate would finally crawl..and she did on Saturday! yay!

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Needing: to wash my car. I went to a baby shower in the middle of the woods a couple of weeks ago and the driveway was red mud. It won’t come off even after driving in the rain.

Wearing: shorts and dresses. It’s sadly way too hot for capris and pants, so I will be in shorts and dresses until oh…October?

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Following: Along with all of the presidential stuff. It makes my head hurt to think we still have a year and a half of all this!

Noticing: Where people “missed” while fertilizing their grass. I know it sounds weird, but have you ever noticed? It’s funny when you can see huge strips in people’s yards where they missed. Oops!

Knowing: That I have the best family ever. The end.

Thinking: Like a baby. Down on my hands and knees, trying to see what she is going to try to “get into” now that she can crawl. It’s a whole new ball game!

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Feeling: a little lonely lately. Making local friends as an adult is hard stuff.

Bookmarking: Photography courses online. I want to take one…someday…when I have time…

Opening: A couple of early birthday gifts. It’s almost my birthday month!

QOTD: Answer one of the “lately’” prompts for yourself in the comments.

Birthday Weekend Fun

Happy Monday! We had a GREAT weekend but it went by. so. fast. Karen and I had been planning on getting together at my parents house for a couple of months (we try to do it once or twice a year) and it was finally time. They had yet to meet Emma Kate and besides hanging out in Disney we hadn’t really seen them since my baby shower last July.

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Bobby and I hung out with my mom and dad Friday and Friday evening they arrived and we just hung out and talked…well..the boys played video games of course.

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Saturday Karen and I went shopping and got snowballs, of course. It’s tradition!

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The weather was warm but not too bad so we were able to sit outside and hang out while my dad grilled and we had a great time. I had a surprise planned, since next weekend is Bobby’s birthday, I decided we would go ahead and celebrate early and decorate the dining room and have cake and ice cream. He was definitely surprised and it was delicious.

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Sunday morning we indulged in another tradition, breakfast at the original Broken Egg Café.

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Unfortunately, a little damper was put on things when I cut into my omelet and THERE WAS A BUG IN IT! Like, completely formed, legs and all. I freaked out and the waitress happened to be walking by and she freaked out, too. I was given a free meal but sadly I was no longer hungry.

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We had a great time with our friends and I can’t wait to do it again!

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I had to stop and get PJ’s coffee on the way out. Southern wedding cake flavor is back for summer and it’s my favorite. It’s probably a good thing we don’t have PJ’s by my house….

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Birthday Photos, My Volleyball Hero, and Giveaway Winners

Last Sunday was my birthday, and I was lucky enough to get to spend it at my parents house with my family, and my friend Karen and her husband Jason were in town for my baby shower, so it made it even more fun!

Bobby decorated with the same posters we use every year…

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The four of us friends went to the Broke Egg for breakfast, a tradition whenever they come into town.

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We had BBQ for lunch and then it was cake time!

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Chocolate doberge cake has been my cake of choice the past few years.

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I am so glad my friends came into town and were on hand to help me celebrate my last year in my 20’s!

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ASICS has posted a training tips blog post featuring Kerri Walsh Jennings! She is my favorite volleyball player, and has some great tips! http://www.asicsamerica.com/volleyball-training-tips-kerri-walsh-jennings Currently, there are two exercises, with a video for each.  2-3 new videos will be published each week leading up to the 2014 ASICS World Series of Beach Volleyball on July 22nd through July 27th where Kerri will be competing. The first two videos lean a bit towards volleyball, but there will be more videos shortly that are applicable to general fitness.

Also, ASICS is hosting a giveaway for an ASICS training gear package!

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***The three winners of the CLIF summer sampler packs are as follows:

Paige Callahan

Erin Fairchild

Emily Riccardi

Please email me at [email protected] to claim your prize!

QOTD: Is there a certain birthday cake flavor you get every year?

A Special Connection

Confession: I am a nerd. I love to learn, I love gadgets, and love to see really really “cool” things happening around me. I of course consider technology a REALLY, really cool thing. It moves super fast, there is SO much to learn, and my favorite thing about it: it helps us to connect people to each other.

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I use my smartphone to connect via text, email, video chat, and photos all day long!

True story: Some of my very best friends in the world I met online. Oh yes. Back in 2006 I was on a message board planning my honeymoon, and I ended up meeting some awesome people. Some of them I ended up staying in touch with, meeting with several times in real life, and now our families go on vacation together. How awesome it that? All because of the awesomeness of technology.

Unfortunately I don’t get to see my friends as often as I would like, but thanks to technology and amazing tools like smart phones, laptops, and video cameras, I am able to do more and we can talk to and “see” each other all the time. I live a good 15-20 minutes from “town” and am in a more isolated neighborhood. It has been hard for me to make as many local friends as I would like because of this, but I have no shortage of friends all over the world due to being connected via technology. Whenever I want to “chat” with someone I can hop on Twitter and see what’s going on around the world with my online buds, get on facetime or skype with a family member, or simply shoot an email to catch up with an old childhood friend. The opportunities are ENDLESS!

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Constantly here. On the laptop.

Technology also helps connect me to my readers. I use my webcam on my laptop a lot so that I can post vlogs. It’s so funny when people say that after hearing my voice, they feel more connected to me and like I am a real person or a friend. It’s also nice to have an on the go video camera/camera so that I can capture things and upload them later for my friends, family, or blog community to see. I can’t wait to see what else is in store in the years to come, and I hope I can keep up, I love having these special connections.

QOTD: How has technology improved your life/made you feel connected to other people?

Mother’s Day Weekend Shenanigans

I hope everyone had a fabulous Mother’s Day weekend! We went to my parents house, and my buddy Karen and her husband came on Saturday and stayed the night so we could hang out. I hadn’t seen her since marathon weekend in January so it was great to catch up. Saturday morning, we went to eat brunch at a spot we always go to when they come into town, The original Broken Egg café. I t was pretty crowded, but we had a good time with great food.

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After brunch the guys started playing Xbox…and literally didn’t stop until dinner. Karen and I chatted then went to get everyone snow balls! Most people call them “sno cones” but not here in the New Orleans area. You go to a snow ball stand. Just how we were raised! Anyway, they were amazing (I had wedding cake cream, my usual) and we were kind enough to bring them back for the boys.

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My dad BBQ’ed for dinner and Karen made the most delicious dessert, ooey gooey toffee cake like at Liberty Tree Tavern in Disney World. It was amazing! Must. get. recipe. Let’s just say I was in sugar overload.

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We chatted late in the night and left the boys up…you guessed it, playing Halo! This morning we had breakfast and chatted some more before they had to go back home. It went by too quickly!

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We both have on #ClaimYourJourney shirts! Not planned, just great minds. Smile

For Mother’s Day, my mom claimed she wanted a hand written card. Ok then. I busted out the crayons and drew her some stick people and Bobby drew on it as well. She absolutely loved it as you can see from this picture.

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We ate lunch outside on the patio and enjoyed the last of the cooler weather, and then headed back home to a very messy might I add, house. I still haven’t finished unpacking from my trip. Oops.

I hope you got to spend some time with your loved ones this weekend like I did. Enjoy your Monday!

QOTD: What did you do for Mother’s Day?

9 Foggy Miles

 

Good morning! Catching up from the weekend? Here’s what you missed:

Saturday in Pictures and Workout Recap

RWS Features #8

Tour of The YMCA Vlog

Remember yesterday when I posted about my workouts for the week, I mentioned I didn’t get to long run Saturday because of our service project? Well, just my luck, my friend and Rouge Orleans teammate Kristyn texted me yesterday morning asking if I wanted to long run with her that afternoon. YES!

After church, we ate lunch, took a quick nap, then I drove down to the beach to meet Kristyn….and the fog.

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I promise the water is there…somewhere…..

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It was a little creepy and so so humid!

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I waited for Kristyn in the parking lot.

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We decided to head out in one direction from the bathrooms then turn around, grab some fuel/water then head in the other direction.  Within a half mile of running, I was soaking wet form the humidity, it was like swimming! My hair was soaked, my eyebrows, it was insane.

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I started out in my Altra’s but an so glad I also brought my other shoes because I got a bad blister at mile two and had to walk/hobble back to the car. We headed out again in the other direction and ended up running nine miles! I took it really slow…I was nervous in jumping my mileage from 5-9 in a week, but I think taking it slow and taking walk breaks made it much more bearable for me, and gave me a little confidence I can do the distance again.

Also, congrats are in order…this was Kristyn’s FIRST TIME to ever run nine miles. WOO HOO!

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Sorry it’s blurry Kristyn…not sure what my problem was there! The miles went by so much faster having a friend to run with, I hope we get to do it again soon!

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So, I took it really slow amping up my mileage for three weeks, and now am at nine, which boosts my confidence for our relay that is coming up in just a few short weeks!

QOTD: Would you rather run alone or with a friend and why?