Thursday, December 6, 2018

Thanksgiving {2018}

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His love endures forever.

Thanksgiving Day started with my annual little "Turkey Trot" with Piper first thing in the morning!

We had a lazy morning eating cinnamon rolls and watching the parade with the girls. I got the cutest video of them getting excited when the sesame street float came on the TV.

I was so glad I listened to Reaghan's suggestion to finish making our desserts the night before because it made a for a relaxing morning! Around lunch we got dressed for usual routine of lunch at the Poindexter's and Dinner at the Kessler's!

Thanksgiving outfits coming in hot with Lilly wearing Reaghan's hand me downs and Reaghan's being free using my points on Amazon. *high five to me!*
{Please notice Lilly's foot. This was snapped a SECOND before she stepped right off the fireplace taking her sister down with her *facepalm* it was actually pretty funny and they thought so too!}

Thankful to be the mama of these equally beautiful but completely different little girls. 
Their poses and smiles say it all. : )

There's not much to do for the girls at Mark's 94 year old grandma's house, besides potentially knocking into china cabinets and a hundred picture frames, so I always try to bring along a little craft for them and the other younger cousins to do. This year was turkey head bands!

We headed to my parents around 3 where I got to snuggle with this little man. My heart is so thankful for him this year! <3 

We made a head band for Blakers too!

Reaghan had fun looking at all of the Black Friday Ads with Grammie.

Until it was time to change into her PJ's and head home with Lilly and Daddy so I could go shopping with the girls!

I used to be hard core about not shopping on Thanksgiving at. all. In fact, past Meghan would be so disappointed in me. But once its time for the girls to go to bed... *shrugs* So the last couple of years they go home with daddy and I stay to go shopping.

We wear matching shirts and shop at all the stores, all the crazy hours!
We have a blast together and usually get more new funny memories than we do great deals.

The next day we did a little more shopping and then the girls hung out with my parents so Mark and I could go out to do a little Christmas shopping together. Mark's definitely more of an online shopper, but its nice to go out together. : )

Thankful for health, family, my marriage, and our traditions. 

26.2! {Philadelphia Marathon}

On November 16th we packed up and hit the road for another big road trip!
Reaghan and Lilly are the best little travelers. Lilly has her occasional cranky moments and it helps that we have a tv in the van that we use on and off during the trip, but they travel so well for 2 littles!

It took us about 8 hours to get to my cousins house in Pennsylvania where we stayed the night before heading into Philadelphia for the Marathon Expo.

It was so nice to hang out with family for a night and let our girls see each other again after they met for the first time at our family reunion this summer. It's such a blessing to be friends into adulthood with your cousins and their spouses. 

There was snow everywhere! It apparently doesn't snow in PA much before Thanksgiving but a day before we headed up there they got almost 8 inches. Thankfully 8 inches isn't enough to shut things down there like it is here in Hampton Roads! But it still meant it was freezing up there!

We drove about an hour from my cousin's into the city the next day so we could go to the expo and pick up my race packet. It took us forever to get there because driving in the heart of Philly is sort of like driving in New York City and we paid $24 to park for an hour! The girls were starting to get a little weary of the travel so even though I love race expos and looking through all the vendors we didn't stay too long. Which in hindsight was probably for the best because that meant I didn't buy anything!

Mark was so supportive, making sure I got pictures even though his stress level always goes up in busy, crowded places, you can see below that Lilly was about to have a melt down, and we couldn't find a pizza place to deliver to our hotel! 

Thankfully we eventually did find a pizza place for the hotel. Pizza is my pre-race, carbo load dinner of choice and it was wayyy easier with the girls to just have something delivered to the hotel then spend hours in traffic driving around the city to find something to eat. It was the perfect pre race night. We got checked into the hotel, had an early dinner and an early bath and bed time. I did my usual pre-run stretching video from Sydney Cummings Workout Channel and was in bed around 9! I have a ritual of laying all my race gear out the night before to make sure I don't forget anything.

I didn't sleep super well. Does anyone else wake up every hour when they know they have to be up early for something and CANNOT be late? It always happens to me. But it was okay, I had mentally prepared for that and tried to get good sleep the few nights before, so I was excited to get up at 4 to get ready even though I hadn't slept well.
 It was supposed to be 30ish degrees at the start so I was layered up with a tank, my long sleeve shirt, a light weight zip up hoodie and an old thick hoodie. I had capri's and calf warmers pulled up over top. Gloves and of course an ear band.


It was definitely COLD at the starting line. I kept bundled under a foiled blanket until the race started and spent some time in warming tent before heading to the starting corrals. 

This was my first full marathon running solo and it was a little weird not having anyone to share the excitement with, but I also trained all by myself this year too so it was all good. 

Despite the cold, it was a beautiful morning!

Back at the hotel my little family was staying nice and warm and making me signs before they walked from the hotel down to the finish line to wait for me! It was a mile and a half walk but Mark said they enjoyed strolling through the city and the Christmas Markets that were set up.

Race day makes all the long training miles worth it. It's a blast to run with so many others, especially through a new city! We ran past Ben Franklin's resting place, through the streets of down town Philly, and along a beautiful river. Although the river got a little boring after 13 miles ; ). The first half of the race was exciting and interesting but with more hills than I anticipated. My knees were feeling the down hills about half way through. I had been hanging out with the 4:30 pace group for the first half of the race but lost them around mile 13 when I stopped to use the bathroom. I never caught back up to them and wonder if I would've been able to push myself a little more if I had been able to stay with them. But even so, I'm happy with the race I ran. 

The last half of the race was a 6 miles out/ 6 miles back in a park along the river. It was tough mentally because you had to pass the finish area to start the out and back and the whole time could I could see runners, faster than me, heading the opposite direction back towards the finish! I seemed like it took forever going up/down hills to get to the turn around point and I started to walk the up hills and run the flats and down hills. Thankfully the last 6 miles on the way back seemed to go by a little faster! I grabbed my phone out and texted Mark when I was getting closer to the finish line so I could find out where he and the girls were standing!

I loved kissing their precious faces right before finishing.

I wanted to get a picture in front of the famous Rocky steps but unfortunately I finished the race at 12:10pm and we had to be out of the hotel by 1pm to avoid the $85 late checkout fee so after the race we took a couple pictures and made a mad dash to the shuttles to get back to the hotel! Haha

We got back to the hotel at 12:50! We raced up stairs and Mark took the already packed bags down to the car and turn in our room keys while I kept the girls and took a quick shower! We left the hotel room at 1:05! I don't think I've ever moved so fast after a long run!! I was surprised at how well I was feeling after the race. I think sipping on the warm chicken broth they gave out at the finish line really helped restore some sodium and keep me from feeling faint and cramping. That and the adrenaline stayed peaked a little longer with the hotel checkout excitement! haha

My official finish time was 4:41:56! 
I was thrilled! My goal was just to break 5 hours because I hadn't in my previous two attempts! 
But I'm liking my Nike Run app a little more that said I ran 26.7 miles and finished the 26.2 at 4 hours and 34 minutes. : ) Both times are great for me, but I'll take the second! 

After we left the hotel we stopped and got a legit Philly Cheese Steak. Mark says it was one of the best he's ever eaten! My favorite post race activity - stuffing my face!!!

We then drove the 6-7 hours home with 2 little sweet hearts who did amazing again.

I don't recommend sitting in a car for 6 hours after running, talk about being sore and stiff every time we stopped at a rest stop! I was super sore the next day, but stretched and soaked in an Epsom salt bath and by Tuesday I felt almost normal! I was surprised but a friend at work made a good point that all of my training runs were done in the morning and I would come home and have to be a mom for the rest of the day which was good recovery training for my body! Who knew caring for 2 littles came with marathon recovery benefits?

I'm so thankful for my husband who loves me enough to drive 8ish hours both ways and help take care of the girls in a busy city just so I can run! It was a crazy, busy weekend but it was phenomenal. I'm so thankful to God for the breath in my lungs and the physical ability to do something fun like this race. Memories and accomplishments that I'll always carry with me!

{Two weeks after the race I did a 20 miler to keep me primed for my 50k on my birthday in 9 days! 
I've never run that far following a marathon so it was weird, but it totally got me pumped for my last race of the year. Can't wait to reach that goal and then, honestly, be done with long distance running for a little while! I love it, but I'm ready for the break!}

Saturday, November 10, 2018

My New Favorite Recipe

I mentioned in my last post that I've been following an eating plan called Trim Healthy Mama, which I'm not the poster child for at all, but it has really helped me lose some overall weight and tummy bloat! I started it last summer and its really the only "diet" that I've stuck with for this long! I don't follow it 100% of the time but try to stay on plan Monday - Friday which means all of our dinners are structured around their eating plan.

Sometimes I need a little variety in our dinners so go searching on pinterest for something that's compliant with THM and recently I found a good one!

We love sweet potatoes here. Mark still loads his up with butter and brown sugar (the way I used to eat them too!) but since THM I've been eating with a small bit of olive and salt and shredded chicken. I still love it, but when I saw this recipe I was definitely willing to try a new way to eat a Sweet Potato.

It's a twice baked sweet potato with buffalo shredded chicken on top.
I'm not a huge fan of spicy things so I didn't put near as much hot sauce in my chicken as she did. She calls for 1/4 of a cup... I only put in 2 teaspoons! But the rest of the flavor was delicious.

It also has a little bit of cheese mixed in. 

I don't know why I never thought to mix cheese with a sweet potato, but it's delicious! Whyyyyyy is cheese always so delicious?!? I couldn't live without cheese.

This is on the menu for us again this week because I loved it that much {and need to use up the left over shredded chicken from the first time!} So I thought I would share it here. The link below will take you right to the blog, TJ's Taste, where I first found it!

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Reaching Goals before 30

My Journey this past summer to my 3rd marathon!

On November 18th I'll be running in the Philadelphia marathon and I'm so excited!

I knew it was going to be hard work to find the time to run for 2-4 hours at a time almost every weekend with 2 girls at home, vacations, and having to work some Saturdays - and it was! Some days were super early, sometimes I'd get back from a long run and feel awful for a few hours until my body recovered a bit {but I still had to be a mom!} some runs were rainy, some were scorching hot with 90% humidity...
But I knew I wanted to work hard towards a goal before my 30th birthday and get myself back in shape. So I did it.

I stayed more on plan following the Trim Healthy Mama plan that I started last summer, slowly built my miles and found a Youtube channel that has amazing in home workouts (Check out Sydney Cummings!) that has helped me drop a few more pounds, build strength and tone muscles! 

I really feel the most in shape and confident in my body than I have since I got married 6 years ago and I'm so excited to be heading in to my thirties healthy and energized!

Aside from the marathon I'm doing my first "ultra" marathon ON my actual birthday.
Its a 50k, so 30 miles for my 30th!

My people think I'm crazy for wanting to spend 6 or so hours of my birthday running trails but if nothing else it will be something I remember forever. A friend form work has been trying to get me to run this with her for years and since this year it was actually on my birthday I decided to go for it! I'm nervously excited for it, even if it ends up being miserable! ha!

I'm so grateful for Mark and his encouragement and support! He's the one home with the girls when I go out for my long runs on the weekends so I couldn't work towards this goal without him. 
But he definitely thinks I'm crazy for all of this running.  : )

One of the songs on my running playlist is a song by Andy Mineo, a Christian Rapper. A line in this song goes "Make Moves or Make Excuses." It's been my motto this past summer until now. All of the days I didn't want to wake up before the sun to run or workout, I thought of this line and the goal I wanted to reach. I could make a move towards it, being faithful in the little daily things or I could make excuses about why I couldn't do it! 

There's always a way to reach your fitness goals, mamas! 

Set some for yourself, no matter how big or small, and work towards them. 

The feeling of accomplishment is worth it. : )

See Reaghan Grow {4 years!}

I completely forgot to write my annual update on my baby girl! I shared her birthday party but not all of the things that made her special in her fourth year of life.

I am going to go ahead and give all the "baby book" stats that you know I love to document but I could really some up her "specialness" in one small story. Her birthday this year was on a Monday so for several weeks we were planning what we should do during the day until daddy got off work. We decided we would go to the Children's museum and invite some friends to join us. She woke up the morning of her birthday excited to go! We stopped at the grocery store on the way to pick up some cupcakes to share with our friends and after we got back in to the car I decided to pull up the address of the museum on google to make sure I knew exactly where I was going. As soon as the page appeared on my phone with the address it also showed the hours of operation and that they were CLOSED on Mondays. I couldn't believe it! I called to double check and sure enough, they were closed. I was so bummed! I knew Reaghan had been looking forward to it so much and I felt so bad for not knowing or checking to see if it would be closed but she handled it so graciously. She was disappointed but she kept reassuring me that it was okay and that maybe we could go again another day! Thankfully we were able to get a hold of our friends and meet up at Chuck E Cheese instead and she was delighted to play there for an hour or so! No melt downs over change of plans. She is genuinely a sweet, tenderhearted, thoughtful little girl. I am so grateful to be her mama.

On to her stats!

  • At her 4 year check up she weighed 32 lbs and is 3 feet 3 inches tall. So she's grown 3 inches this past year and bumped up from the 25th percentile for weight to the 33rd. I was happy about that because she continues to be a picky eater and I'm always trying to make sure she's eating enough good, healthy food.
  • She has matured a lot this year. I still wouldn't characterize her as outgoing but she speaks when spoken too, has developed some cute little friendships at church and no longer needs to me to be with her when we are around friends. Last year she sat right by my side during summer bible study but this year she spent the whole time playing friends. 
  • She completed her first year of dance class, including 2 recitals! I wasn't sure if she would do okay being in a classroom without me or going up on stage, but she found a lot of confidence in herself this year through dance class. I'm so glad we started it with her.
  • She rode rides at Busch Gardens with courage. Some of them made her a little nervous but she decided she wanted to do them and she did!
  • She continues to have an anxious side. If something is upsetting or embarrassing to her she'll get very tense and complain of being itchy or cold. This is something that I'm trying to tackle this year in helping her work through. She is very sensitive to being corrected or disciplined because she doesn't like to be wrong, or embarrassed or disappoint. I know this year will be filled with teaching her to accept correction graciously.
  • She loves all things princesses. Her favorites change week to week, but currently Belle is holding the top spot.
  • She loves playing with her princess barbie dolls in her doll house, and loves when I join in! She often wants to play like the barbies are putting on a dance recital or since Aunt Nin Nin had her baby, like her barbies are going to the hospital. 
  • She still loves to play baby dolls, play like she's "fixing things", read books, play with stickers and play outside! 
  • She loves to look at animals but does not want to pet them, unless its Piper.
  • She got a bicycle for her birthday and still hasn't quite mastered it in the last 6 weeks but we'll get there! haha She can ride her tricycle though!
  • She still loves to watch TV and movies! If I didn't limit her, she could probably watch something all day long!
  • She loves to sleep with her teddy bear named "changin bear" and her polka dot blanket.
  • She knows all of her letters and sounds. Knows all of her colors and shapes. Can count to 50. We had fun doing a relaxed preschool last year!
  • She can easily recognize landmarks and neighborhoods belonging to families and friends. 
  • She learned how to pump her legs on a swing to keep herself going! 
  • She was able to swim by herself (with a life jacket), the year before she needed someone to hold her in some way.
  • She has chores to complete every morning - feed Piper, feed her fish and empty the shoe basket by the front door. (Where we throw our shoes during the day!)
  • She can fully dress herself and put away her clean clothes correctly. 
  • She is a great Big sissy and is very giving to Lilly! She is always willing to play and share with her. It is fun to watch them become closer and closer as they grow.
This and so much more make up our first born. The other night when I went in to say prayers with her before bed I climbed in to her bed to cuddle with her for just few minutes. She is growing so much and as the first born she gets the unfortunate roll of bearing all of my parenting blunders as we walk together into each new phase of her childhood and I'm thankful that God gave her the personality that He did! If Lilly and I were experiencing everything new together I think I'd be getting grey hair already! I'm incredibly blessed to have a sweet firstborn who I hope is always as loving and tender towards her mama as she is right now. <3

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Pre-schooling at Home

I'm not sure if I've ever mentioned it here in any of my posts, but Mark and I are planning on homeschooling our girls {and other kids we hope to have one day!}. We have several reasons for wanting to keep our kids home that I might explore in another post one day but for now I just wanted to share what we're doing for Reaghan for Preschool.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Reaghan's Princess Party

Reaghan Eileen turned 4 yesterday! When I was planning Mark's 30th birthday party earlier this year I was at Party City with the girls and decided to take Reaghan down the birthday party aisle to see what kind of decorations she'd like for her party and she picked out the princess theme. She's been talking about her princess birthday all summer long so we wanted to make it special.

We enjoy having family parties for birthdays and decorating with a theme but since this was a princess party I thought it would be fun for Reag to have a couple extra princesses there too. We invited 2 of her good friends from church and asked them along with her cousin to dress up in their favorite princess dresses. Reaghan decided she wanted to be Belle from Beauty and the Beast so we bought her a dress up dress as an early birthday present and she wore it to the party. Another friend from church found out we were having a princess party for her birthday and let us borrow several princess decorations that she had saved from her daughters princess party several years ago! It was perfect! I would have never bought the big princess pictures but they were a huge hit. The only decorations I bought were some dollar tree balloons, a table cloth and princess party game for $5. Walmart had a great selection of Disney Princess Party items so we were able to get plates and napkins and a few party favors at budget friendly prices!

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Comfort Zones & Book Clubs

So... I did a thing this past weekend that was completely out of my comfort zone.

I invited all of the ladies on my street to come to a book club at my house! *gasp*

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Busch Gardens!

I have been dying to go to an amusement park since having Lilly. Thanks to being pregnant for half of the last 4 years I haven't been able to ride the more exciting and crazy rides that I love. I was excited at the beginning of the summer when Busch Gardens had a deal to get a free ticket for preschoolers. We got one for Reaghan just in case we had the chance to go, and I really, REALLY wanted to go but Mark wasn't super excited about the idea. He's not into crowds and Reaghan isn't an adventurous little girl so it could've been completely possible we would get there and she wouldn't ride anything all day! I kept arguing that even if Reaghan didn't ride any rides *I* was really in the mood to ride some roller coasters! {Like, I didn't care if Reaghan liked it, I just wanted to go for me! Kidding. Sort of. Of course I wanted her to have fun too ;)} Of course even if she did like and we went, then one of us would have to sit with the kids while the other stood in line to ride a coaster - and I'll admit that didn't sound fun. The summer went on and I really hadn't been thinking about it much because it just seemed like it wasn't going to happen this year, until I saw an ad online about Busch Gardens having 50% off tickets! Oh Yea! I convinced Mark to go and we ended up getting my parents and siblings on board too! {And Aunt Linda who has been staying with my parents this summer and my cousin Lindy who is living with my parents while she goes to school here in Virginia Beach!}

Wednesday, August 22, 2018


A couple weeks ago we had to take an unexpected trip to Ohio for my Uncle Brian's funeral. Uncle Brian was my dad's younger brother who unfortunately suffered with a lot of health issues during his life including a brain injury and epilepsy. While he wasn't in the best of health towards the end of his life and was preparing to have a back surgery, it was an accidental fall that complicated things. He suffered a brain bleed from his fall that caused more injury to his brain and while they were making plans for long term rehab they discovered extensive cancer in his pancreas, liver and bones. This caused the doctors to change their course of action from rehabbing the brain injury to hospice care. It was only a matter of hours after my grandparents signed the DNR that he passed away.

My dad, Grandpa, Grandma and Uncle Brian {2015}

Thursday, August 2, 2018

He Will Refresh the Weary

"I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint." 
Jeremiah 31:25

Do you ever feel like everything seems to come to a head all at once? Have you had one difficult, stressful thing happen and then right in the middle of trying to deal with that you're hit with another blow? And maybe even a 3rd or 4th? The ceiling is falling in on you and you just have to stand there and take it.

That's been my week.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Instant Pot Cheesecake!

I've only made a cheesecake one time before last night and it turned out less than stellar. Okay, it was pretty inedible. I don't really know what I did wrong, but it didn't taste good at. all.

After that experience I've been hesitant to try again, but I was looking for healthy dessert recipes recently and low carb cheesecakes kept popping up on my pinterest so I bought myself a new cheesecake pan and decided to try the recipe that used the instant pot - since my experience with the oven didn't turn out too well!

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Home Sweet Home

Mark snapped this picture a couple weekends ago and I love it.

A small glimpse into our simple morning breakfast routine on the weekends. 

Reaghan is so excited that Lilly is big enough to sit at the table with her and 
sweetly invites her in the mornings to sit with her. 
{Lilly has not been cleared to eat oatmeal outside of her table yet though ;)}

Piper looks like she's lovingly watching her two charges, but she's definitely
 just hoping they drop some waffles for her to clean up.

My little Home Sweet Home.

 Easily my favorite picture of the summer.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Doyle Family Reunion {2018}

For years our extended family has gathered every 3 years in Ohio for a family reunion. When we were younger it was a blast! We looked forward to seeing cousins, aunts, great aunts/uncles and second cousins! (or is it first cousins once removed? I don't know.. that always confuses me, but you know - our parents cousins and their children!) My grandma is one of 13 children so this reunion included all of her siblings, their children, grandchildren and recently great grandchildren! There were 4 generations of family members gathering at one reunion, which sounds awesome... Except we had sort of gotten to the point where there were people there that we didn't really know any more. My grandma also moved to Virginia recently so connections in Ohio were lessening for most of my closer family members who were no longer making the trip north for the Reunion.

For the last 4 or 5 years my mom, her sisters and their kids {me and my cousins!} started talking about branching off and starting a smaller, Doyle reunion. This meant just my grandma's direct descendants. It took us a few years to get it going but we finally did it! I reached out to all of my cousins and aunts and uncles with a survey 2 years ago to get an idea of when and where most people would be able to come and then last year my aunt found the perfect place in Williamsburg, VA for us to hold it and we booked it! I had the honor of spear heading the event and I was so excited about the response from family members. We had 58 people come and only had a handful of people missing.

Monday, July 2, 2018

See Reaghan Grow {Dance Recital}

Father's Day weekend was a flurry of activity!
Friday night was a dress rehearsal for Reaghan and her cousin Brooklyn's first big ballet recital, and then Saturday was the actual recital! The girls have been looking forward to this for weeks - ever since they got their costumes at dance class! We've been excited to see them perform the dance we've taken them to class every Thursday to practice. ;)