how is this freakin’ possible?! aka – happy 6th birthday, cole and cael

best buds

Truth: I’ve been getting all weepy over the thought of my babies turning six for a few weeks now. That’s right; my sweet baby boys are six. It’s amazing to me how quickly six years flew by. One minute they were these two little tinies, barely over six pounds, and now they are my big boys with mohawks. I had to excuse myself to the bathroom at work today when I found a folder of their babies pics because I needed a mirror to check my mascara.

I don’t want anyone to think that it wasn’t special when Lex or Annie turned six; after all, six is a big deal. But there is just something a little different about my boys. Maybe it’s the fact there are two of them. Maybe it’s that they admit that they love me more (Cole swears up and down that he loves me more than anything in the whole wide world). Maybe it’s the fact they are so darn cute and ornery at the same time. I honestly can’t resist their dimpled smiles, freckled noses, greenish blue eyes, and blondie hair. I know I’m being biased because I’m their mother, but they are seriously the cutest little boys that have ever lived.

When I first found out I was having twins, I was glad that my mom was there for moral support because I couldn’t even drive home. I had a meltdown on the ultrasound table. Since I couldn’t drown my sorrows in an adult beverage, I ate them at Cracker Barrel. Obviously, I’ve come a long way since then, and I couldn’t imagine my life without my boys. They are smart, energetic, and loving with just enough difficulty mixed in to keep it interesting.

Happy 6th Birthday, Cole and Cael! I love you more.

watcha been up to?

Summer’s a time when the kiddles and I don’t have to worry about being up at the crack of dawn to scramble out of the house in the hope of getting everyone to school and me to work before 8:00am. It’s also a time when I slack on the blog, namely because my working time is cutting into my blogging time (ahh…priorities). In case you’ve been wondering, here’s what we’ve been up to this summer.

Baseball…lots and lots of baseball.

Zoo trips! You just can’t beat the deal of a family pass.

Swimming

Mo Pop Festival

Check out the blog post about this: http://stephplus4.wordpress.com/2014/07/17/mo-fun-at-mo-pop-festival/. It was awesome!

Kids’ trip to Vermont (not with me)

A Day at Kelleys Island

Cedar Point…the best amusement park EVER (we only have one pic because poor Dan broke his nose a few days before)

V__374CAnd, lastly, lots and lots of ice cream because it is summer after all!

WHAT DOES YOUR FAMILY AND YOU DO FOR FUN IN THE SUMMER?

mo fun at mo pop festival

HOLY CRAP, did I have a great weekend! I’m still depressed that it’s over. On Saturday, Dan and I went to MO POP Festival in Sterling Heights, MI, and it was ah-maze-ing. What the heck is it? Think of the perfect mash-up of live music, food trucks, craft beer, and local art. That’s MO POP. Awesome, right?

We have been wanting to go since we saw something about it on Facebook earlier this year, and Dan surprised me with tickets! Saturday was the big day, so we packed up our stuff and road tripped to Michigan. The festival was held at Freedom Hill Amphitheater, which to me seemed perfect. Plenty of space for two stages, food trucks, beer gardens, artists’ booths, a Vaudeville side show, and lawn for lounging. We got there when the festival started because there were some bands that we wanted to see that went on earlier like Bear Hands, Wild Cub, and Bad Suns. The main draws for us, though, were The Neighbourhood, Young the Giant, and City and Colour. And they certainly did not disappoint! For The Neighbourhood and City and Colour we were in the front about 15 feet from the stage!!! (and I think I may have been the oldest person down there but whatevs). If you want to check out the whole lineup, here it is: http://mopopfest.com/lineup.html

This was probably the most fun Dan and I have had together. Although we loved the marathon, this was a chance to kick back, relax, and enjoy a whole bunch of our favorite things at one time. And the ticket price can’t be beat – only $50 each for all of those bands! We would have paid that to see one or two of them.

Here are some of my highlights from the festival.

  • Saw the most amazing Frisbee toss I’ve ever seen – from the top of the amphitheater to the lead singer of Young the Giant on stage! And he caught it!!!
  • Getting up close and personal with The Neighbourhood because “Sweater Weather” is one of our fave songs (and our ringtone…I know, we’re dorky)
  • Hearing City and Colour sing “We Found Each Other In The Dark.” If you haven’t heard it, do me a favor and give it a listen. Dallas Green’s voice is beautiful.
  • Three words – food and beer. Bringing in food trucks was an amazing idea, and what goes better with food trucks than craft beer? We were able to try a whole bunch of new ones that we can’t get in Ohio. And the wood-fired pizza was delicious. Not as good as The Beautiful Flame but damn good.

Can’t wait for next year because we are making another road trip! Thanks, MO POP, for a great weekend!

i have a confession – i’m a slacker

Whew! Feels good to get that off my chest. Okay, not really. It’s totally true, though. I have been a slacker on all aspects of life lately. Running – slacker. Laundry – slacker. Dishes – slacker. Housework – slacker. Healthy eating – slacker. Blogging – slacker. If you want me to continue the list, I’m plenty capable of rattling off more and more items, but I think you get the idea. I have even been slacking on looking nice for work. Case in point – I had a meeting today with a community partner I never met, so I put a little extra effort in this morning (ie. no crimpy, curly side braid), and I got a comment from someone that I actually did my hair today. Ouch.

I was thinking about this a lot on my (absolutely miserable) run, and I was really mad at myself. I’m mad that I gained back all of the weight that I worked so hard to lose last year. I’m mad that I let my fast running times creep up higher and higher to the point that I am about a minute slower per mile than I was only a few months ago. And I haven’t even gotten a long run in since May for goodness sake! The thought of even running 7-8 miles is daunting at this point when I’m dying to keep a decent pace after 3-4. Also, my house is constantly dirty, and I do nothing about it because it’s easier to walk away than clean it. S-L-A-C-K-E-R!

Some people may say I should give myself a break because I’m a working mom with four kids to take care of and I have to work from home at night and it’s summer and blah, blah, blah. To that I say, “Bullshit!” I know that other people may take the pity excuse, but honestly, I have no one to blame but myself. No one is making me not run or eat crap or look at the pile of laundry and close the door because I don’t want to see it. It’s just plain laziness, and someone saying otherwise is a liar. You know that saying, “Someone busier than you is running right now.”? It applies to life in general. Someone busier than me is accomplishing more right now.

So what’s my plan to pull me out of slacker-dom? It’s time to get back on a schedule with running and eating. I know, I know; schedules are no fun and restrictive, but for me, they are a necessity. For running, this means getting together a general plan to prepare me for fall races. I’m not going to plan out every run, but getting an idea for how many miles I want for long runs and a general number for the week is at least a start. For healthy eating, it means getting back on MyFitnessPal and tracking calories, the thought of which sounds awful at the moment. As far as housework goes, I need to get on a better routine with cleaning stuff, so I don’t let it all pile up at once. Cleaning one bathroom takes about 15-20 minutes out of my day, but cleaning all three at once is a different story. The chore I detest the most is folding clothes, which is clearly evident by the multiple laundry basket filled with clean clothes. I think it’s time I enlist the help of the kiddles on this one. The amount of clothes we have here is the summer is staggering. With work clothes for me, running/workout clothes for me, and the multiple outfit changes from the kids, there is a pile covering the entire floor of the laundry room in no time. There’s no reason why the girls couldn’t help fold the general stuff, and the boys fold easy things like socks. Will the folding be perfect? Heck no, but it will be done, and they will be learning how to help around the house. Win-win!

I suppose I’ll keep you posted on my progress, and if you could help hold me accountable, that would be great, too :-)

hair today, gone tomorrow…but for a good cause

2014_07_06_21_01_05My boyfriend Dan may or may not want me to write this post out of being modest, but I’m going to anyway because I think he’s pretty amazing and want to share this with you. For the past three years, he has been growing his hair to donate to an organization that provides wigs to children who lose their hair during medical treatments. Since I’ve known him, it’s been long (and jealousy-inducing on my part because I can’t grow hair to save my life). That all changed this weekend after he decided it was time for the big cut.

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indians home opener when the locks were long

He had been researching hair donation, and the decision was made to donate to Wigs for Kids, which offers wigs to children at no cost. Some other places take your donation but charge their clients for wigs on an income-based scale, which was not cool in our opinion. After that decision was made, the next was where to get a haircut. Thankfully, Wigs For Kids has a list of salons who assist with their mission, and Dan picked one of those that was close to us.

Sunday, July 6 was the big day! We got to Dino Palmieri Salon in North Olmsted, and poor Dan was nervous. Hell, I freak out over a trim, so I could only imagine how he was feeling! A stylist named Kayla called him back and was kind enough to let me tag along. I was the photographer, after all. She mentioned that in the five years that she has been working there that he was her first guy hair donation, which was really cool. After putting his luscious locks in three little ponytails, it was time to cut!

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someone looks nervous!

Within less than a minute, the long hair was no more, and on the counter were three ponytails filled with three years of hard work for someone in need. I got a little teary because to do something like this requires not only commitment but perseverance to withstand the dreaded “in-between” length. Kayla began cutting into the shaggy mop of hair and turning it into a hairstyle. The amount of hair she cut even after the ponytails were gone was amazing. I could only wish to have that much hair.

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this is the “what the hell just happened?” face

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the clips in front were a good look

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almost done!

About an hour later after we walked in the salon, Dan had short hair for the first time in three years! And I think he looks pretty cute (and incredibly young) :-) Thanks, Kayla!

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Dan – I am so very proud of you for doing this. The commitment you made to help a child was just one of the many things that made me fall for you. Thank you for letting me be part of this experience. I love you. And you still win the battle for best hair, although now I have you beat for length!

live accomplished apparel and a giveaway!

 

 

live accomplished

Every now and then you find a company that not only has awesome apparel but a great story and message behind its creation. That’s exactly the case with Live Accomplished, a new apparel company based out of Columbus, Ohio that aims to inspire its customers.

Live Accomplished was co-founded by Kimheng Tang and Kelly Sorn in 2012. Their vision was simple – create an apparel brand that constantly inspires. Both Kimheng and Kelly worked extremely hard to get where they are today, not letting adversity be an excuse for failure and proving themselves to be an inspiration to others. These guys truly believe in the whole “Would’ve, Should’ve, Could’ve” idea, that dreams are within reach if action is taken. They wanted their brand to reflect this message, and Live Accomplished was born. Kimheng and Kelly took a risk and began pressing shirts in their basement, and they haven’t looked back!

I had the pleasure of meeting Kelly and Kenny Tong, a newer member of the Live Accomplished team, at the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon Expo in May. Dan and I were doing the usual Expo walk-through when some really awesome shirts caught my eye. Being an avid runner/racer, I’ve seen a lot of the same apparel at the various expos. Don’t get me wrong; I like the usual companies, but Live Accomplished had something different that made them stand out. It seemed like I wanted to purchase everything they had! I loved the designs, motivational sayings, and colorful shirts. Being the great boyfriend that he is, Dan bought me a little gift. While we were checking out, we chatted with Kenny and Kelly about running and races. I loved that these guys were as into promoting physical activity as they were motivating people. It’s the “practice what you preach” mentality. I mentioned that I was a blogger for the Marathon and planned on putting a blurb in my blog about their company. As a thank you, they gave me a Live Accomplished logo tank (thanks again, guys!)

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rockin’ my live accomplished clothes

I gotta say, I LOVE my Live Accomplished apparel! It’s comfortable, fits well, and is perfect to wear for working out or going out. It fits into that realm of cute workout clothes that you can get away with wearing places besides the gym. And speaking of the gym, I wore my Less Talk, More Hustle tank just the other day and had two people compliment me on it. Of course, I told them to check out Live Accomplished if they wanted to be my twin :-) I’m still trying to decide which one I’m going to purchase next – the one that reads “Run From The Heart” or “Build a Strong Mind, the Body will follow.” Ahh, decisions. You can find those shirts on their website, and if you’re in the Columbus area and have a chance to meet up with them at a pop-shop or race expo, I highly recommend it! There are more designs to choose from. Give them a follow on FB and Instagram to get updates on where Live Accomplished will be next.

Inhale strength

in love with this saying – inhale strength, exhale weakness

LvA and Sparkly Soul

live accomplished + sparkly soul = perfect match

That brings me to something awesome to share with you. I guess you could call me a Live Accomplished ambassador, and I’m excited to help them spread their message to inspiring others. I even have my own discount code, and you can get 20% off when you use the code STEPH. It doesn’t expire, so feel free to shop as much and as often as you want.

Want to hear something even more awesome? I’m running a Live Accomplished giveaway for a shirt of your choice! The giveaway starts on Monday, June 30 and runs through Wednesday, July 9. The winner will be notified by Friday, July 11. I bet you’re wondering how to enter. Here are your entry options. There are lots of chances to win!

  1. Leave a comment below telling me your goal for the month/summer/year and which shirt you would pick if you won (psst…you have to visit the Live Accomplished site). (1 entry total)
  2. Follow me at @stephplusfour on Twitter and leave a comment below (1 entry total).
  3. Follow me at stephplusfour on Instagram and leave a comment below (1 entry total).
  4. Like Live Accomplished on Facebook and leave a comment below (1 entry total).
  5. Follow Live Accomplished on Instagram and leave a comment below (1 entry total).
  6. Tweet about the giveaway, something like “I want to #liveaccomplished with @stephplusfour! http://wp.me/p2Sa1a-Di #giveaway” and leave a comment below. You can earn one entry for every day of the giveaway (10 entries total).
  7. Post about the giveaway on Facebook and leave a comment below. You need to tag Live Accomplished in the post for it to count. You can also earn one entry for every day of the giveaway (10 entries total).

Good luck and live accomplished!

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