5 Tips for Starting a Blog

Good morning! I have been getting a ton of questions lately about starting a new blog or how to improve your current blog. One of the main questions I get is “can I even blog?” The answer is YES! That’s what is so great about it. Anyone can blog, it’s YOUR words, your stories, you make the rules. You may know my blog started out as a training journal for running and morphed into so much more. I am by no means an expert, but as a 6+ year blogger, I do have 5 tips for starting a blog I wanted to share with you.

5 tips for starting a blog

1.) Don’t pigeon hole yourself with your domain name. My blog started as running only, so the name “Running With Sass” completely fit. However, after three years I was itching to branch out and blog about other things, so I had to go through the painful process of switching everything over to Through Heather’s Looking Glass which was quite a pain! If you know for a fact all you will ever blog about is running, or crafting, or whatever it is that is getting you to start a blog, then that’s fine, however…six years ago I didn’t think I would want to blog about other things, so it *may* be a good idea to do a  semi-generic domain/blog name to give you more freedom.

2.) Pick a platform. I started out on wordpress.com (My blog was runningwithsass.wordpress.com) I soon paid the extra money to have the “wordpress” part taken off, and after a year of blogging I went self hosted on WordPress.org. This allows me to be a part of blog networks, get paid for posts, etc. Some people use and love Blogger, but I am definitely a WordPress gal and think it’s very user friendly, and it is not very expensive. I am NOT great with technical stuff, but was able to easily navigate WordPress.org, and use Bluehost for my web hosting, and WordPress through Bluehost is FREE, and they offer technical support.

Click the picture below to check out Bluehost.


3.) Get involved on social media So you didn’t realize that starting a blog also meant juggling social media accounts did you? Of course, you don’t HAVE to use Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest, but they will greatly help grow your blog. Not only do I suggest joining them, but be ACTIVE on them, and don’t just talk about yourself. Actually interact. Also, comment on other people’s blogs. No one likes “that girl” who gets tons of comments but never interacts with the audience. It makes you seem un-relatable and not a real person. (Note: I’m not saying you should have to respond to EVERY comment, but some interaction is nice!)

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4.) Don’t compare. This is a biggie. A lot of new bloggers will look at blogs that have been around for years and immediately want to be like them, with the same number of followers, pageviews, etc. Very few people became an overnight success, so put in the hard work and your blog will grow, evolve, and change. You are at a different part of your journey, and everyone has to start somewhere.

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5.) Use Live Writer. I am a PC gal, and this is not available for Mac, but I use Windows Live Writer to draft and upload all of my posts. I remember when I first started using it, I was so mad I had been wasting so much time actually composing posts in WordPress all that time! Picture placement and adding links is so much easier in live writer, and then you can publish or schedule a post to go straight to your blog. Super easy, and a great blogging tool.

Want more of a step by step guide to setting up your blog plus more tips? Enroll in my FREE e-course now! 

QOTD: New bloggers- did you find this helpful? Veteran bloggers: What would you add?

Congrats to the winners of my eBook giveaway! (Please email me at heather@heatherslookingglass.com) You can see who it is on the Rafflecoptor widget on my birthday blog post.  If you didn’t win, you can go pre order my eBook now! You will receive the eBook on Wednesday.

July 2016 Goals

Happy 4th of July! What a special day to celebrate our beautiful country and the freedoms it provides. Be safe with your fireworks!

Half of 2016 has officially come and gone, which means it is time to take a look back at any resolutions or goals you made back in January. How are you doing? In my experience if these are not in your face daily or at least weekly, they will be forgotten about. I hope the second half of 2016 is successful for you!

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Speaking of success, let’s see how successful I was with my goals from June:

1.) Clean up my work closet: D: I started on this one, but because it is tucked away upstairs where no one can see, it easily gets neglected. It’s going back on my list for July though!

2,) Cook one new recipe: A++: Why did I give myself 2 plusses? Because I cooked TWO new recipes! I tried out a box from Blue Apron, and cooked two of the recipes myself. I truly love the idea of food being delivered to your door that you just have to cook without buying all the ingredients yourself. However, I don’t truly love the price. Yikes.

3,) Workout 5 times a week: B+: Giving myself a B here because I had one week where I only worked out four times, but otherwise I have been sticking with boot camp very well.

4,) Run at least once a week: A+: Not only have I run once every week, but there were two weeks where I ran twice. Even in this heat and humidity! Super proud of myself.

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July Goals:

1.) Clean out my work closet: Carry over from last month.

2.) Finish boot camp strong with more muscle mass: At the beginning and end of each boot camp cycle, we do a body fat test. Last month my muscle mass % had gone down a tiny bit and my body fat had gone up so I want to correct that!

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3.) Get my eBook launched on time: In case you missed my post on Friday, I will be doing a pre sale for my eBook on my birthday, July 13, for one week before launching officially on the 20th. Hoping nothing gets pushed back and I get all the moving parts in place before launch!

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4.) Read my Bible every day: I was doing well with this at the beginning of the year, but last month things were really nuts around my house with lots of shifting schedules and it threw me out of whack. I need to find a new normal so I can get this important thing into the beginning of my day.

The only reason I have been having pretty good success with my monthly goals is because I put them in front of my face all month so I don’t forget about them. Having a print out each month of my overall goals with action steps as well as my fitness goals to post up on my mirror or refrigerator really helps keep me in check. If you would like a copy of the goal and fitness tracking printables that I created and use, you can sign up for them here. I hope you have lots of success!

QOTD: What is a goal you have for July?

Motivation to Run

Let’s face it, as much as we all love the idea of running, sometimes we need a little extra kick in the pants to get us out the door. Whether it be lack of motivation due to early runs, weather, or simply being burnt out, every run isn’t fun or easy. I don’t know about you, but I often lack motivation to run.

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There are some days when my alarm goes off, and all I want to do is hit the snooze, roll over, and get a few more minutes of sleep before I have to start my day. But, time keeps on ticking whether I get up or not. Sometimes we all just need a little motivation.

I wanted to share a few tips that have helped me when I have one of those days that I just don’t feel like running. I try to keep in mind that I have never once regretted a run once I get going.

Motivational tips for “getting out there” even when you don’t feel like it:

1.   Pick a running mantra: One of my favorites is “you are stronger than you think.” Every time I want to quit, or not get out at all, I try to remember it’s usually mental.  I am stronger than I think I am. Find a great mantra (or borrow mine!) and repeat it to yourself when the going gets tough.

2.   Prepare ahead of time: One of the main reasons why people find themselves unmotivated to run is because they have to get up really early, or run after a long day at work. My advice for this is to be prepared. If it’s a morning run, lay everything out ahead of time, or even sleep in your running clothes. This makes it easy to get out the door in the morning (and you may get to sleep an extra few minutes with less prep time). If you have to run after work, go ahead and bring your running clothes and change immediately after you finish your job so you have no excuse. Leave a pair of running shoes in the trunk of your car. Have dinner ready ahead of time so you don’t have to spend a lot of fuss to get in some food before going on your run. You could even have a healthy snack in the car waiting for you. Plan, plan, and plan some more!

3.   Buy new clothes: If weather is causing your lack of motivation, make sure you have the proper gear to help combat the conditions. Layer well if it’s cold, or buy a fun new running jacket that you have been wanting. If it’s hot, maybe a cute new visor or moisture wicking top is what you need.

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4.   Take a break: Feeling burnt out after a long training cycle? It may just be time to take a break. Usually after a week or two of no running, I am itching to go again. A week or two won’t make you lose all your fitness, but may be just what you need to get your running mojo back. It can also help to prevent injury, as your body could be telling you it NEEDS a break!

5.   Find accountability partners: Start a blog to keep you accountable, or run with some friends who are counting on you to show up and run with them. This way, you will be less likely to bail. Or, simply ask a friend to give you a little push and check up on you to make sure you are sticking to your plan.

No matter what method you use, be sure to pay attention to what your body is telling you. If you are feeling extra sore or injured, take a day or two off just to be safe. Try to remember how lucky you are to have a healthy body that allows you to get you out the door, and keep on running!

QOTD: What is your best tip for having motivation to run?

June 2016 Goals

I know I am a couple days late, but happy June! I am going to tell yall right now this is going to be a CRAZY MONTH for me because of some family things I’m not at liberty to discuss now, but I am still committed to reaching my mini goals. But first, let’s see how I did in May.

1.) Sell items in the garage: A- I’m pretty proud of this one! I got rid of 90% of the stuff in the garage. I sold a few things, and the rest I donate to Vietnam veterans. It felt “cleansing” to get rid of that stuff and not have it clutter up my garage!

2.) Clean up my closet: A- I put all of my winter clothes in bins on the top shelf of my closet, and even went through my things and pulled out items to donate with the stuff in the garage. I still have way more clothes than I need, but it’s a start and I am proud of my progress.

3.) Boot camp 4 times a week: A- I had one week where things were a bit crazy and I only went twice, but other than that I have gone four times every week, and we just started a new two months session. I am getting so much stronger, and have been able to add more weight to the bar when I squat which is so rewarding.

4.) Keep a running base of 6 miles: A+ Done! I ran six miles two weekends ago, and the other weekends were 5 milers and 4.5 milers, so I would call that a win! (By keeping a running base of 6 miles, I had no intention of running 6 miles every weekend, just at least once a month.)

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June goals:

1.) Clean up my work closet: We have a large closet in our bonus room that I have filled with all things related to Disney travel. I have papers, brochures, trinkets, books, etc. and it’s kind of turned into a hot mess up there. Time to clean it out and organize!

2,) Cook one new recipe: I’m going to be realistic here. As I said, June is going to be crazy busy so one new recipe will be a big step for me!

3,) Workout 5 times a week: Again with the busyness about to unfold, I need to stay strong with my workouts and not make excuses.

4,) Run at least once a week: If I’m going to slack on a workouts, it’s going to be on the weekend when I am supposed to run. I just need to stay focused and put action steps in place to set myself up for success in this department.

Free fitness and goal tracking printables

Last month I was really successful with my goals, largely in part because I printed out my fitness and goal trackers to help keep me accountable. Being able to see them every day helped me to remember to get things done. It also made me feel really good about myself and confident when I was able to achieve something!

If you have not signed up to receive my free printables, now is a great time to start! It’s the beginning of the month so there is plenty of time to set a couple of goal for June. Let’s get moving!

QOTD: What is a goal you have for June? Any good healthy recipes I should try? (Preferably chicken related).

Running Day 2016

Hi friends! Today is a big day in the running world. It’s Global running day! What a fun thing to do, celebrate a sport that so many people have come to love and enjoy over the years. I am so thankful for what running has taught me, and the opportunities it has provided for myself and my family. I have gotten to travel, work, and run through the past six years and I am so grateful.

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I thought it would be fun to take a walk down memory lane and see what I have done thanks to running over the past six years. You can check out how I was bit by the running bug here.

Bobby and I ran our first half marathon in January of 2010 at Walt Disney World during the year of the sleet and ice. It’s a wonder I ever ran another race again!

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At that point I still wasn’t convinced I wanted to run a full marathon, so I ran more halfs and shorter distance races in 2010, but ultimately signed up for the full for 2011.33044bcb

We had an amazing time running, but weren’t ready to sign up for another full just yet. That race was hard, but we continued to run all year, and my blog began to pick up some steam. In February of 2012, I was invited to attend my first race as media, and had a blast working with runDisney for the first of many times.

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I ran the Princess 5k and half, and then had more opportunities to work with brands that year. We started traveling to more races, and even ran at the beach in Florida.

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I also began working with RunningSkirts.com that year as a sales rep, which afforded me the opportunity to work race expos and then run the race. I traveled to Florida, Rhode Island, and Missouri among other places to work and run.

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Unfortunately I also struggled with a couple of injuries that sidelined me along the way, but I always came back to running. In the spring of 2012, Bobby and I did something pretty goofy….we signed up to run Goofy! We ran the half marathon on Saturday and the full on Sunday, which also happened to be the 20th anniversary year of the marathon, and still my favorite race medal.

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I had conquered the toughest challenge runDisney had, and thought I was done with full marathons. I started doing a little bit of weight training, and in the fall of 2013 was asked to be a blog ambassador for Under Armour, and even got to visit their gorgeous facility in Baltimore.

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I also had the opportunity to travel to Disneyland a few times, and even take my mom there at the beginning of 2014.

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Speaking of 2014, runDisney decided to throw a curve ball and create the Dopey challenge: 5k, 10k, half and full on back to back days. Of COURSE we had to sign up for the inaugural year. I know they never say never, but I don’t plan on doing that one again.

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I was also photographed and interviewed for the front of the sports page of the Orlando Sentinel newspaper for my Dopey costumes, so that was pretty cool.

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Ok, so NOW I’m done with full marathons! I was so tired during Dopey then flew to CA that week to run Tink with my mom. I chalked it up to all the running and flying, until I went home, and took a pregnancy test.

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I announced babyM in March, but it was hard to keep a secret when my whole family when to Disney to run the Glass Slipper Challenge in February. They knew, but no one else did, and I was SO sick. I was terrified someone would find out!

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Unfortunately I had bad round ligament pain and couldn’t run for almost the entire second half of my pregnancy, so obviously there was no racing or traveling, but I kept up with my blog and got to virtually meet a ton of awesome people, and I started working with my favorite shoe brand, ASICS.

Shortly after Emma Kate was born (like a couple months after) ASICS asked me if I wanted to come run the LA marathon with them in MARCH. So, another marathon, and I would be 5 months postpartum. SURE! It ended up being one of the hardest but BEST experiences of my life for so, so many reasons. I had an amazing and special time in LA and am so thankful for the opportunity.

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I ran many more races in between all of this, but there are too many to list! Having a baby definitely forced me to cut back on my travel that first year which is totally fine, but I’m hoping to get to venture out further again to new places very soon.

So far in 2016 I ran the WDW half, the Castaway Cay 5k, Rock n Roll New Orleans, the Glass Slipper Challenge, the Crescent City Classic 10k, and another local 5k. I was also asked to be an ASICS ambassador, and a RunningSkirts ambassador, two of my favorite brands!

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I even placed 2nd in my age group only running 1 day a week thanks to boot camp at my gym and all my new friends there.

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Whew! The past 6 years have been so much fun and full of running. Never did I think my life would revolve so much around this, but I am happy that it does. I run for my health, my sanity, the people I meet, the experiences I have, and because it just makes me a better person. I can’t wait to see what the next 6 years hold.

You will now be rewarded for making it to the end of that long post! Today, ASICS will be giving away 1 pair of shoes for every 100 uses of the hashtag “#WeRunJune1” on Twitter. Be sure share to tell them what you run for with the hashtag for a chance to win!

Happy World Running Day!

QOTD: What is something you wouldn’t have done/experienced if not for running or working out?

Memorial Day Weekend Recap

I know I usually do my weekend recap on Monday, but because of the holiday I decided to lump it all into the “weekend” even though I had to work yesterday.

Saturday morning I got up and went for a run in my favorite neighborhood. When I arrived there were SO many cars and I forgot it was the weekend of the triathlon! Bobby did this one last year and we had a lot of fun. I had to figure out some logistics so I wouldn’t get in the way of the race, but I ran 4.5 miles. I realized very quickly that I am going to have to start running much earlier. It was super hot and humid at 9:00!

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As soon as I got in from the run, Bobby told me our employee (who was supposed to be at work in 30 minutes) called in sick. I told Bobby I would go in, so I jumped in the shower and headed to the yogurt shop. Saturday afternoon we hung around the house, and Sunday morning we went to church. Also, big girl wants to sit in a regular chair now which has made mealtime interesting.

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We only had one service at church because of the holiday, and I swear everyone in my town was at the beach. The preacher even made a joke about it! Longing for the sand and waves, I put on my swimsuit and played outside in the water with Emma Kate. It’s the same thing, right?

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It was really hot and I ended up in the shade. Don’t worry, we both had on sunscreen!

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Sunday evening Bobby grilled some chicken and we made enough to eat Monday, too. Monday morning, I got up and went for a three mile run before going into the shop. I again volunteered myself so I could get out of the house for a bit.

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Monday afternoon I did some super fun exciting cleaning, work on the computer, and blogging stuff. I know I am going to be all thrown off this week with what day it is! Have a great TUESDAY everyone.

QOTD: What did you do this weekend? if you went to the beach, just don’t answer. Smile

Tips for Running on Vacation

Jeff Galloway has been around the block a few times (pun intended) and has some great tips for running while on vacation, no matter what your destination may be!

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The best, more efficient workout when you’re at the beach…
Running into the dawn: In Summer, it’s best to run before the sun rises above the horizon.  Since it’s common for family members to sleep a bit longer on vacation, get up early and hit the beach.    Set a total time you wish to run, and turn around at the halfway point.  Or, run 1-2 minutes longer going out and try to run faster on the return.
When you’re camping and near a lake and/or mountains.  Drive around the campground area to find suitable running/trail areas.  Plan a group hike each day.  Appoint yourself the “lookout”.  Walk ahead of the group for a few minutes and then run ahead for a minute or two, and run back.  Repeat this routine throughout the hike.  Even short segments of running, during a 1-2 hour hike, will maintain your running adaptations very well.
On a road trip, taking frequent “pit stops”.  Wear your running gear on the trip.  If it is safe to run or walk at your rest area, walk for 1-2 minutes as a warmup and then run for 5-10 minutes.  Repeat this pattern until the group is ready to load up.  If it is a food stop, get your meal “to go” and spend the time running.
When you’re on a trip that’s based around a theme park.  Many of the hotels in areas like Disneyworld, have designated areas for running.  In some cases you can run to the parks.  Ask the hotel staff for recommended routes.  Each evening, gather the family and plan your park visit for the next day.  This allows for you to find a timeslot to squeeze in a run.  As you mention how you are planning your run, you’ll teach the kids how important your exercise is, for you.

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When you’re on a sightseeing city tour.  Time is limited during most sightseeing tours but you can usually squeeze in a few minutes here and there.  Wear running clothes or very comfortable apparel with running shoes.  When the bus stops, keep walking around while looking at the sights or listening to the guide.  If time allows before reboarding, jog for a minute or two.
A home-based vacation.  If possible, arrange with another family member to watch the kids while you run.  Then, offer that person a chance to get away for a while while you stay with kids.  Early morning is often a great time to get in your runs.  Plan trips to local parks (that you seldom visit) where you can run and walk with the family.
Note: Olympian Jeff Galloway has coached hundreds of thousands of runners to their goals.  For more information, see his books GALLOWAY TRAINING PROGRAMS and MARATHON—you can do it!  Ask Jeff a question at www.JeffGalloway.com

QOTD: What is your best tip for running on vacation?

10 Tips for Running in the Heat

As the weather warms up, it’s wise to take a few minutes to think about how this will change your runs. If you don’t plan ahead, you may be setting yourself up for failure (or heat stroke!) so be careful and make sure you are prepared. Here are my best tips for running in the heat.

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1.) Sunscreen sunscreen sunscreen! Also, for really long runs, I reapply after an hour.

2.) Wear a running hat or visor. I always feel so much cooler not having the sun on my face. Plus it will help fight against wrinkles and sun damage.

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3.)Hydrate ahead of time, and bring water with you. I have a small insulated cooler I pack my drinks in with an ice pack so I can grab them at the car as needed. I also like Gatorade because I sweat a lot and need to replace some electrolytes. Nuun and coconut water will do the trick as well.
4.) Wear loose fitting moisture wicking fabrics. Cotton is never your friend as a runner, but particularly when you are sweating a lot. Running Skirts actually has a tank top that cools you down as you sweat. It’s awesome! It’s called the “keep it chill” racerback.

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5.) Try to run early in the morning or after the sun goes down at night. Between 10:00 AM and 2:00 PM is when the suns rays are the worst. It was still be very warm but when the sun is down it feels nicer!

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6.) Pace yourself. Don’t expect to have an awesome training run in which you PR at noon in July. Stop or slow down if you need to. Be realistic about your expectations!
7.) This goes with number 6, listen to your body! If you start to feel overheated or dizzy/lightheaded, walk, or find some shade and take a break/sit down. One run is not worth your health.

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8.) If you must run in the heat of the day, run shorter distances or use these days for easy runs.

9.) Put a wet washcloth in the freezer, then carry it with you on your run. it will keep you nice and cool if you put it on your neck.

10.) Keep drinking water after your run. Sometimes if I don’t drink enough during a really hot run, I get a bad headache and am more exhausted later in the day. Be sure to take care of your body AFTER you run, and not just during!

QOTD: Any tips I forgot for running in the heat? What has helped you?

Parading Through the Weekend

Happy Monday all! We had a “cool front” come through and it made for a GORGEOUS weekend in the 70’s. Unheard of for Mississippi in May, but I’m not complaining.

On Saturday morning, I got up at 5:15 to go run 6 miles. I wasn’t exactly looking forward to it, but when I was done I was so glad I got out early ahead of the warmer weather. Also, my view did not suck.

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I hurried home to pick up Bobby and Emma Kate, as we were meeting some of his workout buddies and their families for a workout at the local high school track. The kids all entertained themselves while we ran/worked out. I didn’t do all the workout with them but I did run another 1.5 miles for a total of 7.5 for the day.

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This weekend was our local parade of homes, so since bobby’s mom was in town we asked if she could watch Emma Kate while we spent a couple hours looking around, I LOVE looking at new homes so I had a blast. There are some gorgeous houses out there yall!

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We grabbed a bite to eat after and came home in time to put EK to bed.

Sunday morning was church, and a baby shower for our friends in our class who are due in a couple of weeks!

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One day he will learn to wait until I’m ready to take the pictures…

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After Emma Kate took a VERY short nap (she is killing me with the short naps!) We loaded up and looked at some more houses on the parade of homes that we didn’t get to the day before. There are some gorgeous, very expensive homes in the area. Way out of our price range but it was fun to dream!

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We spent some time outside in the afternoon playing with Emma Kate’s new water table we got on sale at Sam’s. She had a blast and played for over an hour before dinner.

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I love that it has an umbrella because our backyard is very sunny in the mornings.

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I wish I could bottle up the awesome weather we had this weekend and bring it back in July!

QOTD: What did you do for the weekend? Is there a parade of homes where you live?

5 Things Friday XVI

Friday, Friday, gotta get down on Friday! You’re welcome. Bust day of workout and work ahead of me, but the sun is shining and it’s Friday. I hope everyone has a great weekend! Catch ya on social media until Monday.

1.) Running Skirts has come out with a new ADORABLE compression sock with tiaras on them! Love! Even better, right now you can get these socks with free shipping. This probably won’t last long so I would jump on it.

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2.) Last week I spoke of loving the chocolate chip Complete Cookie. That was until I tried the birthday cake flavor. Holy cow, this is good stuff friends! If you like cake flavored things you should check these out. I love that I can get a box of twelve because Bobby keeps stealing them.

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3.) My child loves ducks and is not afraid of them. There are some pretty aggressive ducks at one of our local parks that will come right up to you if they think you have food. My kid is like “whatevs, I just want to hug them.” I love that she is obsessed with animals. Sweet baby. Now I just hope she doesn’t get attacked by one and scared for life.

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4.) Does anyone have any experience with this particular water and sand table? I saw it at Sam’s for a great price but haven’t heard reviews on this one. Thoughts?

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5.) As a Rock ‘n blogger, I get fun things from time to time like the Eagle Creek gear I made a video for last week. This week I got this great training journal and book about proper eating for athletes. Can’t wait to dive right in! Thanks Velopress!

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QOTD: Any experience with water tables? Any scary duck stories? I have been bitten several times. Favorite Complete cookie flavor?