Adventures Await… Part 2!

Wow, I can’t believe how time just flies. It’s been nothing short of an exciting and crazy start to summer for our family. Let’s just say we have lots of adventures packed in: camping trips, fishing, scouts, football, tennis, baseball, basketball, band, water parks, swimming, friends, fireworks and more!!!


Scout camping fun with my youngest!

In the meantime, I’ve been working on something really HUGE and SCARY but totally EXCITING at the same time. It’s actually completely unrelated to running and health, but I wanted to share my latest endeavors because it has to do in part with my last post about working with kids and finally figuring out what I want to be when I grow up. (and why I’ve been so absent).

Back in March, I had an experience that lit a fire under me (it actually made me so angry and sad at the same time, but I won’t get into it here). The experience opened up my eyes to the state of our current education and the quality of the people who teach our children.

I’m someone who wants to help everyone… I know that’s impossible… but, I know I can be part of the solution! If only I can make a difference for one… or two… maybe a handful of children and their families?!

And so I started talking to my teacher friends; mostly, my Paraprofessional friends.

What’s a Paraprofessional, you ask? It’s a very special someone for many students and parents and teachers.

They are the aides in the classrooms helping the teachers. They are the ones on the sidelines who actually do much of the loving and care-giving, documenting and one-on-one guiding. They reassure students, work with emotions and behaviors across the full spectrum, they monitor in the lunch-room and they teach solutions on the playground, they talk to teachers, parents, administrators and do a ton of work behind the scenes. In my opinion, they don’t get enough credit for the massive amount of work they do for our children who need the most help in the classroom!!!

And so, back in April, I initially applied for my Paraprofesional license! A few days later, I was encouraged to apply as a Substitute Teacher which means I can accept a much broader role as an educator and at the end of May, my request was approved! The last week of school gave me two opportunities to work and I enjoyed it immensely!


Like this just makes me even more of a Sucker!

In the meantime, I also thought about going back to school. It’s been in the back of my mind for a long time. I started working with a university whose program I really respected and one that would allow me to do a majority of my studies online during the day while kids are in school and be the soccer mom in the evenings and weekends. In the end, I’ll be able to get my teaching license and master’s degree in special education after 2 years!

There was just one problem!

My undgraduate grades were too low to waive taking the GRE and so I studied my well-rounded tushy off for 4 straight weeks into June!!! I carried this huge notebook and study guide from the library with me everywhere and was constantly quizzing myself on vocabulary, comprehension and math problems. I studied at baseball games, when I woke up, right after lunch, after dinner and into the late nights when I couldn’t sleep, on the airplane, on vacation, and in the car (my hubs was driving).


My family was awesome cheering me on every time I studied. Mr. Dino was there to help, too!

Let’s just say remembering how to do proportions and rate word problems after 20+ years of actually learning how to do them was a huge challenge along with re-learning quadratic equations and geometry even though math used to be my strongest subject! (There was actually a word problem involving and cyclist and runner on a track and I had to figure out how many times the runner would get passed in a certain amount of time… that NEVER happens in real life, does it?! PLEASE!).

Thankfully, my 7th grader and Kahn Academy helped me with most of it!!! #humbled

The first week of June, I drove to the test site and after 4 of the longest mentally challenging hours I’ve had in a very long time, I walked away with the scores I needed!!! HIP-HIP-HOORAY! (I’ve gotten better, but I’ve always strugged with test anxiety so, this felt so great because I was about ready to take the darn thing again 21 days later if I had to).

And, today I officially sent in my official application to start school in the fall (gulp, August). I hope to find out before the end of July, but I’m excited and hopeful right now, so please cross a few fingers and toes for me.


In the meantime, I’m now focusing on my first ‘race’ of the year this weekend. It’s a brand new 5K in my neck of the woods… which happens to conclude with a pancake breakfast! The next official race is in September – The Fox Valley Half-Marathon. I’ll start officially training in about 2 weeks, but for now, I’m kicking it off with new shoes :)


The biggest sadness for me this year, though, is missing the Christmas in July 12-hour event I was hoping to join in on. My plantar fasciitis was no joke and I still have to be careful. This was our crew last year and most of them will be back!  I’ll be there as part of the volunteer crew on the back half of their race so I can cheer for them and feed them… and maybe carry them as they limp to their cars, but it won’t be the same as toughing out a longer ultra race with my compadres.


My UBAGE gals! They are a special bunch. And yes, I mean that kind of special, too!!!

Anyway, that’s where I’ve been. And this is where I’m hoping to be headed. I plan to still blog and run, so I appreciate you all reading whenever I get a chance to digitally spill my guts to you all.

Here’s to new adventures!!!  Any new ones for you?

Love and xoxo,


Have You Ever Taken A Sabbatical? Part 1.

Good Morning Friends!

I’m back from my sabbatical. I didn’t mean to take a blog break for so long, but I didn’t feel the urge to write for a while. It’s been a good break for me as I’ve taken a little breather from social media to focus on other things. Some HUGE things… more on that in a bit.


I came from a refreshing spring break with my family where we celebrated the life of my Dad in a beautiful military ceremony. Our family is fairly private and I told very few friends that he passed away last July 5th from congestive heart failure. He lived a very full 85 years. Even thinking about him now brings me to tears, but I’m starting to talk about him more with my kids keeping his legacy alive with all the wonderful memories I have with him and the lessons he taught us.


My Dad suffered from diabetes and severe dementia for a long time… most caregivers thought he had Alzheimer’s at the end, but he still remembered a few of us in his last days. While it frustrated all of us, I can laugh now about how my Dad would get mad so quickly at one of us about something trivial and 20 minutes later… sometimes even mid-conversation completely forget why he was so angry, or that there was even a fight! We couldn’t stay mad at him for very long because we knew how frustrated he was, too.

The one thing that makes me sad, though, is that my Dad never remembered he had grandchildren and so my children never really knew him like I did (though he was always happy to see them when we told him). He looooved food, the outdoors, and working in the yard. His favorite food was ice-cream and he got to share one last bite with my 9-year old who learned about death first-hand last summer as we sat by his bedside for the last few days. Hospice even let my parents’ dog spend the last day right next to him.

I’m not sure why, but since coming back from that trip I haven’t wanted to exercise in over a month! I don’t think I’m depressed, but with my PF slowly getting better, I hesitate to make it worse and am embracing the fat pockets on my derriere. LOL! Do I get any credit for going so far as to put on my workout clothes and then clean our house or take care of other personal business that’s been neglected? (don’t answer that).

Last week, I tortured myself working outside for a couple of days with our blooming spring yard and now am paying the price with a full-blown head & chest cold that started out with sneezing and snotting for 2 days from allergies! Oye.

But my yard looks pretty! #priorities


So now what?


I’m figuring out what I want to be when I grow up! (I know, long overdue!).

If you didn’t already know, I’m one of the “Lunch Ladies” supervising lunch and recess at my boys’ elementary school. I started a year and a half ago and WOWZERS… did my eyes get opened to the highs and lows and huge challenges of working in our schools today.

I’m sure I haven’t even come close to the complete range of emotion when working with kids, but let’s just say I’ve sent kids to the principal and I’ve gotten hugs all in the same day. I open juice boxes and fruit snacks, help kids make friends, encourage good manners and kindness, clean up after them and teach them to clean up after themselves. I can honestly say that my initial view of how we teach and discipline our children has changed 180 degrees from when I first started.

The best example of how perspective and expectations can change so dramatically is to share a little story…

I remember going to my friend’s house who had three kids when I just had a baby. I’m not proud, but I admit I judged her. But, I also now LOVE and appreciate her even more for keeping it real and showing me what being a great mom is all about. Her house looked like a tornado had touched down. Not just in one room, but the whole freaking house!!!

“REALLY?”, I thought to myself, “Who lives like this?”.

Fast-forward 12 years… we do. Perspective changes when you cram in 3 very active boys, 2 dogs, and work. I seriously have a huge pile of laundry on my floor next to me as I write. (Where in the he!!fire does all of it come from because I just folded a truck-load yesterday and we did not wear this many clothes in 2 days?!!! #hatesocks)


And the dish washer got partially emptied in the hurry of getting kids out of the house (they do it, not me… Boys, we need to complete the pass and go for the touchdown on our chores!).

I have a second office on our formal dining room table because our real office has no room to sit down and spread out. #summerproject Who am I kidding?!

And that’s just part of the reality lurking in our house.

But, my yard is pretty. (Leo, get your paws out of my flowerbeds!!! Sigh)

Long-story short, I now have a completely different perspective of what family-life is all about (messy and happy and not a clean house) and have changed my expectations about what we should be focused on to raise healthy, happy, kind, generous, hard-working, critically-thinking, well-adjusted grown men! I’m sure that perspective might change a few years down the road as we get into full-blown teenager life! OMG, my son will be learning to drive in a little over a year….

So, what does this mean?

(stay tuned for part deux)





SLS3 Dual Pocket Run Belt Review & Giveaway

SLS3 Dual Pocket Run Belt Review

I was so excited when SL3S contacted me and asked if I’d review their new belt with a generous and amazing offer below.

Click on this Tweet link box and share the love with your friends!

SLS3 Dual Pocket Run Belt Review - Get 40% off and enter to win a free belt! Click To Tweet

It so happened I was in the market for a new belt because the one I’d had for 3 years just wasn’t cutting it anymore. I hope you’ll keep reading (and watching below) to learn why I think this belt is the best thing since sliced bread.

SLS3 is a German company that creates and develops their products from scratch, is thoroughly tested by athletes and then, if deemed awesome, put into production! They know that runners, cyclist and triathletes want high-performance gear that does its job without getting in the way.


I really liked the SLS3 Dual Pocket Running Belt, primarily because it is waterproof!

As you know, I love photography and my phone is permanently attached to me at all times so I can catch the perfect shot. However, when the weather is bad, I am always putting my Samsung Galaxy S6 in a plastic sandwich baggie for protection from the elements.

Now I don’t have to worry because the belt has a top-grade stretchable waterproof polyurethane lining with water-proof zipper.


Another critical benefit is the large capacity of the belt when needed.

I run too long and with my allergies and asthma, I need to carry extra junk that most people don’t have that could literally save my life… and save you from having to call 911 and perform CPR on me as my running partner! And, I run long enough that I also need to carry fuel with me, but not necessarily water since our trails have tons of easy access, so being as minimalist as possible on these runs, is great!

The bonus? My large Samsung Galaxy S6 (and your new iPhone) will also fit easily in either of the pockets. I think the Samsung Note might also make it, too!  There is plenty of room for cash, credit cards, sports gels, energy bars, inhalers and any other essential supplies.

The SLS3 belt is soooo roomy, it’s almost ridiculous!  Watch this!


I appreciate that it’s a fully adjustable belt fitting sizes 24″-38″. I’m a woman’s size 8-10 with hips and there is still room for the belt to expand (like I do!). It’s very comfortable to wear while running.

Use it every day if you want to – this belt can take a beating. I thought it might be a great alternative to keep my money and phone safe while going down Splash Mountain at the amusement park this summer, or take it on our bike rides into town for ice-cream. It is fully washable, so any spilled ice-cream can come right out!

If you’re fashion conscious, it comes in several great colors, too!


SLS3 shared a special 40% off coupon especially for my readers when you use the coupon code on anything in their store. Use coupon code: BLOG40.

You can also purchase this belt on Amazon for a bigger discount here:

This is a limited time introductory price for the dual pocket run belt. The belt retails at $29.90 and the Amazon store has it listed for $16.90 (43% Off).

And, if you want a chance to win a SLS3 Dual Pocket Running Belt of your own, sign up right here! Winners will be announced in a week.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*SLS3 sent me a lime green SLS3 Dual Pocket Running Belt in exchange for a comprehensive review. All opinions are my own. Thanks SLS3 for the opportunity to showcase your great product!*

5 Ways To Control Portions When You Eat Out

Do you know of 5 ways to control portions when you eat out?

Lately, I’ve had the opportunity to connect with old friends and catch-up from hibernating over the past few winter months. Unfortunately, it’s also meant going out to eat… which also brings out the opportunity for me to make food choices.

Sometimes, they are terrible not great decisions.

I’ve often wondered why I make these bad decisions and have no sense of self-control when faced with the ‘Hungry Farmer Skillet’ filled with bacon, bacon and more bacon (and cheese).

Well, it might have something to do with the fact my Dad was born in 1929, the day after Black Friday! His habits were partially imbedded by living in the era of having nothing and being able to McGuyver everything.

If you know anyone who grew up in the Great Depression, you know they learned to be very frugal, save everything, create something from nothing, embodied strong work-ethic and because they never knew when their next meal might be, they ate everything given to them at the time.

And so, I grew up being told I needed to finish everything on my plate, even if I was already full.

There was no such thing as wasting food.

My Dad, as much as he loved us, would insist we could not leave the table until we emptied our plates. We didn’t throw anything away!

So guess what I do now? Yup. I have a really hard time leaving any food on my plate. In fact, for years, I would also finish everything my kids left on their plates, too!

Lately, I’ve been very focused on this particular habit and have discovered a few tricks that are working for me.

Here are the 5 ways to control your portions when eating out! Click To Tweet


I recently read an article stating successful people are great decision makers. They don’t waffle and change their minds. They act and move forward.

A figure stands before a row of doors and ponders which one to open

Be decisive! Choose a door!

I’m a waffler when it comes to the restaurant menu because everything sounds yummy, but not anymore. If this is you, too and you know you’re going out to eat ahead of time, get on the restaurant website, find the menu and do a little research to find a menu item that satisfies your nutritional needs.

Decide what you’re going to order ahead of time and stick to it.

The other benefit of doing this is realizing the high fat/calories/sugar all the menu items have ahead of time really making the temptation to order the Double Cheese Everything Burger an absolute no-go!


American meals are HUGE and completely over-portioned at most restaurants.

When my husband and I returned from living in Hawaii for three years, we were so used to ordering a side-item or appetizer because the portions are considerably less (it’s an asian thing). And so imagine our surprise when we had a toddler who loved fries and we ordered a side for the three of us to share that was bigger than one of our adults meals… which also came with fries! #gutbomb

It’s easy in many restaurants to split the meal with a health-conscious friend. Not only do you save a few dimes, but you save your waist-line, too.


One thing I’ve started doing with lunch and dinner meals is asking for a To-Go box when the meal comes out and automatically splitting my meal in half to take home for a second meal another day (unless it’s a nice salad).


If I don’t order the to-go box early, I’m tempted to pick at my food as we converse and the next thing I know, I’ve eaten too much, or the whole darn thing.

I also have three growing boys and so part of me thinks that by taking home a To-Go Box with part of my meal, I’ll have one less snack or meal that I need to cook for them as they eat their way through our fridge!


About a week ago, my girlfriends and I met for breakfast at a place near us famously known for huge, delicious portions.

As I was mulling over the menu, I stated that everything looked like it was too much food and I was trying to be good. My friend, Jennifer, suggested we ask if we can order off the Senior menu.

Much to our surprise, the waitress said, YES!

Remember the adage that it never hurts to ask? And you’ll never get what you don’t ask for?

I may get in trouble for this, but please share which restaurants result in success (Double Yolk the day we visited).


My oldest son has always been big for his age and hasn’t eaten off the kids menu since he was in third grade as an 8-year old!

In fact, it’s been a personal goal of his to find the biggest breakfast choice on the menu to see if he can eat the entire thing! (and he usually does). He’s so big now he usually helps the rest of the family polish off their meals, too!

If you have kids who can technically order off the children’s menu, but eat as much as, or more than you do, have them pick out a kids menu item you would like. Then, ask your son or daughter what they’d like off the regular menu.

When you go to order, be honest, but let the server know your child would like your menu item and you’d like his!

Usually, they don’t bat and eye and make a comment about how much kids grow! It’s a great way to control your portions and save a little money, too.


Enjoy your meal!


I really think Americans are so focused on the FAST part of FAST FOOD that we forget to really sit, smell, look at and taste our food. We literally inhale the contents of our plates as we rush to the next thing.

When meeting with family and friends, I’m consciously focused on having a great conversation. And now, it’s a secret contest for me.

I do everything I can to finish my food after everyone else. I will push my food around the plate, stall, drink more water, ask questions and put my fork down and really listen while someone is talking.

This way, I’m taking time to chew and enjoy good food, while giving my brain enough time to register when I’m really full. As a result, I’m finding it easier to leave food on my plate, or transfer any extra’s to my To-Go box!

Hopefully, these five ideas will help you control the amount of food you consume when eating out to an amount more reasonable for your body.

Do you have any other great tips to follow when eating out to stay healthy? Do you have a history of eating more than you should like I do?