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Make It: Salted Caramel Pretzel Bark

Pretzel Bark

The holidays are upon us and sweet treats are all around. I know a lot of people participate in Cookie Exchanges this time of year, so I wanted to share my favorite quick and tasty treat to share at yours. It’s a non-cookie option, because trust me there will be enough cookies!!

Salted Caramel Pretzel Bark - quick and easy treat

Salted Caramel Pretzel Bark 


  • 1/2 bag Pretzel Crisps
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 cup chocolate chips
  • sea salt
All you will need… plus salt!


  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  • Line a large rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and lay a single layer of pretzel crisps down. I like the Pretzel Crisps because they are larger than regular pretzels and flat so you can get more of the caramel chocolate goodness. (And let’s be honest it’s the real reason for making this)
  • In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and the brown sugar until the sugar is dissolved. Stir continuously, let it come to a gentle boil, until it starts to stick to the bottom and forms a nice smooth caramel. Let it bubble a little and thicken up.
  • Remove from heat and pour evenly over the top of the pretzels (this doesn’t need to be perfect). Put in the oven at 350 degrees for five minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and sprinkle the chocolate chips over the top. Put it back in the oven for one minute.
  • Spread the chocolate chips around with a spatula until melted.
  • Sprinkle with salt. (It’s up to you how salty you want to make it)
  • Let cool on the counter for a few minutes and then pop in the freezer for at least 2-3 three hours.
  • When it comes out of the freezer, break it up into uneven chunks with your hands and serve.

**Disclaimer I doubled the recipe for the photos. That’s the only way we have enough share!

Salted Caramel Pretzel Bark Steps
Line up your pretzels… it doesn’t need to be perfect.
Salted Caramel Pretzel Bark making caramel step
Bubbly caramel goodness ;)
Salted Caramel Pretzel Bark Pour on the caramel
Pour on the caramel
Salted Caramel Pretzel Bark chocolate chip step
Add chocolate chips and put back in oven for 1 minute
Salted Caramel Pretzel Bark ready for the freezer
Ready for the freezer
Salted Caramel Pretzel Bark makes a yummy treat
Time to enjoy!


I like to store this in little freezer safe containers. It’s an easy little treat that I give our mail carrier, delivery people, garbage men and neighbors during the holidays. I also keep a personal stash in the freezer to grab when I’m craving something sweet. It tastes great straight from of the freezer… it’s the best place to store it, as it will melt quickly at room temp.


Let me know if you try it! You may want to double (or triple) the recipe. This one gets gobbled up fast!




Try it: Running my 1st 5k

Turkey Trot 2015

I love lists and I love the satisfaction of crossing things off my list. Especially when that thing is something I have put off for a very long time. Running a 5k has been on my list for years. And as I posted here, I’ve always wanted to be a runner but have never stuck with it until recently.

So on the morning of Thanksgiving, I crossed the finish line and this item off my list! I ran the Wrightsville Beach Turkey Trot 2015 and finished in 33:36. Not a great time, but I didn’t care one bit. I ran the whole thing and I did it by myself (not my usual style). My husband and smalls waited for me at the finish line and snapped this pic. Which I am so grateful for, photographic evidence of accomplishing a goal!!

finish line WB Turkey trot
Crossing the finish line 33:36! My starting point for future running goals.

The toughest part was running with so many people. I had to walk/run in place for the first bit until the pack thinned out. Then dodging runners as their pace changed or they waited for friends. It was wonderful to see people of all ages and athletic ability out on Thanksgiving morning. It made me realize how silly I had been for thinking about what the “real” runners would think of me. These races are about bigger causes and it’s awesome that people are willing to run, jog and walk these races to raise money for great charities. This race was raising money for Habitat for Humanity to build a family a home in our community. And all along the race course, there were Habitat families cheering everyone on which made running it that much easier… especially at the 2.5 mile mark. (Thanks guys!) :)

My smalls decided not to run this year, fear of the unknown. But now that they know what it is, and saw so many children running, they are excited to try it! Which is another accomplishment and the whole point of me getting out of my comfort zone.

pre race
Ready to run. Realized moments later that I had dressed way to warm! Rookie mistake!

We left the race and spent the beautiful 70 degree day cooking and playing outside with all of our family that came to visit. We enjoyed a lovely meal and lots of reminiscing. Once again, Thanksgiving was my favorite holiday filled with lots of gratitude, good food and maybe a new tradition!

I tried it and I actually enjoyed it and can see myself doing many more… and setting bigger running goals!





Gratitude with a Twist

Gratitude with a Twist - Sometimes a change in perspective makes all the difference.

It’s that time of year again, Halloween has passed and the Holiday Season is upon us. I love the holidays, but Thanksgiving happens to be my favorite. I love the traditions, the food and the fact that it’s the one holiday not centered around gifts or sweets. (But bring on the carbs!) Since November 1st my social media feeds have been flooded with posts of gratitude, which is lovely to see. Of course people are grateful for all of the wonderful blessings they have in life and it’s fantastic that so many are making an effort… but after reading so many similar posts year after year, it starts to feel a little empty.

A while ago, I noticed my friend, Lisa, posting about challenging situations throughout the year. Something we are use to seeing on Facebook… but Lisa’s posts were different. She acknowledged the challenge and at the same time found a way to be grateful for it. These posts always jumped out at me, how was she so upbeat and thankful for each of these situations? I always liked her posts and commented on how positive she was… and when November rolled around and she posted again, I asked her what the deal was.

Thankfully, Lisa is a good friend and was more than willing to explain. A few years back she wanted to make a change and set a good example for her daughter, whom she noticed was having a hard time seeing the bright side of things. Lisa is a self proclaimed “anxiety ridden, impatient pessimist”, which you would never know by her killer smile and adorable dimples, so finding the positive in things doesn’t come easy.

“The whole concept is that instead of posting your typical “thankful” post, you pick the thing that made you crazy that day, that ruffled your feathers, that would typically have ruined your day – and you TRY to find the good in it. It could be as simple as someone cut me off in traffic, but I am grateful I have a reliable vehicle to drive and great music to listen to on my way to work. It’s important to start small – chores mean we have belongings to care for, rain means trees can grow and we can have air to breath, a dirty kid means they were able to explore and learn… and so on. You can’t force yourself to become a positive person overnight, it takes practice.”


To me, this is such an amazing, yet simple, concept and it just takes a little change in perspective. It may take more than 30 days to accomplish this, but that’s another reason why you should try it all year long. Gratitude should exist daily, not just in the month of November.

One thing Lisa said really struck me, “Finding hope and awareness that each moment has something good in it, is a journey. But just changing my perspective on one small thing a day, snowballed into me really changing how I viewed life.” Find the good.

One of my favorite sayings <3
One of my favorite sayings <3

So for my Gratitude Challenge, I’m challenging myself to change my perspective in the difficult and challenging situations. I will find the good in the undesired moments. I will take this journey, which I already know won’t be easy. And I would love if you would try it too… who knows what could happen?



p.s. Comment below or on my FB page with your change of perspective, I’ll be posting mine on my Kate & Smalls FB page! Can’t wait to see who’s up for the challenge!




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30 days of prompts

If you have read the blog or follow me on social media, you know I LOVE Periscope! Or should I say the lovely group I found back in September! To keep things going, Lauren from Working Mom Magic and Julie from Girl on the Move Blog, have done it again with #NovemberScopers!!

30 days of prompts
30 days of prompts

They have provided 30 prompts to encourage people to Scope daily. The prompts are simply suggestions to get you going, they are not requirements. You can Scope about anything… this just helps those of us that struggle with coming up with topics to talk about daily. Simply follow the hashtag on Periscope, Twitter and Instagram to see fellow Scopers.

This fantastic group now has weekly events that provide lots of laughs and entertainment!

Follow @Twitchetts for #PassThePen
Follow @Twitchetts for #PassThePen on Tuesday Nights
Follow @MothrhoodMerlot for #WednesdayWineChat where we pass the glass and discuss a type of wine each week and play a fun game.
Follow @MothrhoodMerlot for #WednesdayWineChat where we pass the glass and discuss a type of wine each week and play a fun game.

We have Pictionary-style fun with #PassThePen with Twitchetts on Tuesdays. Our weekly #WednesdayWineChat with Joanna from Motherhood and Merlot. There is also #TriviaScope on Thursday nights with @katiechiavarone from Views From a Step Stool and @RufflesandRain from Ruffles and Rainboots. And the always hilarious #DirtyScopeMinds with @oneruudemom from One Ruude Mom.

You do NOT have to be a Blogger to join, there just happen to be a lot of us in this group! The group has grown so much in the last two months and we hope to continue growing during November. It’s fun getting to know people from around the world from the comfort of your home. So join us for #NovemberScopers! Try it, you might like it… and make a few new friends in the process.




Diagnosis Inspired


It’s October, a month that use to mean a change of seasons. Bringing out the jeans, sweaters and boots; it’s my favorite time of year. As I’ve gotten older it signifies something different. Instead of the colors of changing leaves we are surrounded by a sea of PINK. For October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.


Everyone knows someone that has been touched by Breast Cancer. Mothers, sisters, daughters, aunts, grandmothers, breast cancer knows no age. My own mother had a scare 10 years ago, at age 44, which resulted in a lumpectomy. Thankfully they only found, and removed, pre-cancerous cells and she didn’t require chemo or radiation. She had to have mammograms every six months for a few years and is now back to once a year. She just received an all clear this month… after a bit of a scare. She is diligent about her checkups because she knows she is at an increased risk, which in turn makes me aware of my increased risk.

But what about women under the age of 40, without a family history of breast cancer? According to the American Cancer Society, it is estimated that 13,110 cases of breast cancer will be in women under age 40 each year. And there is no effective breast cancer screening for women under 40!!! Young women have to be diligent with their own self breast exams each month and pay attention to any noticeable changes.

Scrolling IG (my obsession) one evening, I came across a really cute hands-free wristlet… which I immediately liked and commented on. That started a conversation with @hkellydesigns, aka Heidi, she was an open book! Heidi is a breast cancer survivor and her story really struck me. Which is why I asked her to share her inspiring story here.

How were you diagnosed?

I actually saw a dent. I originally thought it was a bruise and when it did not go away I started to suspect something was wrong. It took me a couple of months to build up the courage to go to the doctor and when I did she sent me straight to get a mammogram and ultra sound that day. That day we found out it was a tumor and then about a week later we found out that it was positive for breast cancer from the biopsy. I was 38 years old and no history in the family!

You were diagnosed with cancer, and decided to start a business?

HKelly designs was born from me having breast cancer. When I was feeling good enough I would sew and people were always complimenting me on my bags. One day my husband said why don’t we make this a business and have a go at it and so here we are. I have been through 2 rounds of breast cancer, 4 chemo rounds and over a month of radiation and I’m still standing, still making purses and really just loving life!

How is your health now?

I am doing well now. I actually had it come back a second time on the scar and since we did not do chemo and radiation the first time, we did do it the second time.  The first time I only did a double mastectomy and meds.

Heidi of HKelly Designs
Heidi of HKelly Designs

I love your attitude and I’m so glad you are doing well! Now for the fun stuff… tell everyone about that adorable wristlet that caught my eye.

This wristlet is the perfect accessory for hands free fun! You never have to put it down, it’s basically a bracelet with room for your phone, lip gloss, keys and of course your cash, credit card and license. Take pics with your phone… it’s there on your wrist, dance the night away… it’s there on your wrist, party it up at a concert… it’s there on your wrist!!! For you travelers, your passport will fit right in there!

There are currently 3 styles in the Black Label, black, brown and gray. The really fun part about the bag is the surprise interior fabric, no two are the same! I have been considering adding a completely customizable one for those who want something crazy original, that will include a consultation via phone or email and an upcharge.

The wristlet in black, brown or gray
The wristlet in black, brown or gray

I’d love to offer your readers $10 off on the wristlet. Use coupon code KAS10, it’s good until Novmeber 21st.

We also have a Breast Cancer Awareness Shop on the site, a portion of the sale of every Gemma bag to a Breast Cancer Charity: Young Survival Coalition. This group works wonders for women who are diagnosed under the age of 40.

Where can people find you?

First, my website all my products are available there. I also have a blog on the site and I talk a lot about fun and funky things as well as life with cancer. I also spend quite a bit of time on Facebook.
 I am on TwitterPeriscope and YouTube too!
Lastly, since my blog is all about trying new things… What’s something that you would like to try?
I guess it would be travel everywhere. Lol. I love to travel and have been to many places but there are so many more. My biggest is Paris in the Spring time, I did go in winter once but would love to see it in the spring and get all the way up the Eiffel Tower. Also on the list is the Alaskan Cruise. I have never been on a cruise and my husband, father in law and I are headed to one this spring. Cannot wait! I would love to travel the world and see everything!
 I wanted to share Heidi’s story, and cute bags, because I love that she was inspired by her diagnosis. A cancer diagnosis doesn’t have to be the end of the world… it could be the beginning of something you were always to afraid to try. Heidi fought like crazy for her life and created a business for herself. So whatever it is that you want to do, but are scared to try… do it! Life is short, so don’t wait!!
This was the image that grabbed my attention on IG
This was the image that grabbed my attention on IG
The Perfect Wristlet in Gray $45
The Perfect Wristlet in Gray $45
Each of HKelly Designs bags has a unique lining. I just love this one!!
Each of HKelly Designs bags has a unique lining. I just love this one!!
On my way to Costco with 3 kids... thank goodness for free hands! The bag easily fit my phone, keys, cards and a lip gloss.
On my way to Costco with 3 kids… thank goodness for free hands! The bag easily fit my phone, keys, cards and a lip gloss.
p.s. I wanted to get pics of the wristlet at Costco with the kids… but I was at Costco WITH 3 kids!!! It wasn’t happening!! Let me know if you purchase a wristlet and what you think! I think its a lovely gift idea for the upcoming holidays 😉



My Go-To Breakfast


In my ever growing quest to find more hours in the day, I’m always looking for things to automate. Lately, I’ve managed to do that to my breakfast. I’ve mentioned before that I’m a creature of habit and when I find something I like, I stick with it. And I’m totally fine eating the same thing 5 days out of the week…without having to think about it.

I’ve always struggled with eating breakfast. I know, I know it’s the most important meal of the day… I’m just not a fan of eating as soon as I wake up. So when I heard Kelly Ripa talking about the breakfast she eats everyday, I was intrigued. I’ve been a super fan since her Hailey Vaughn days and simply love her upbeat attitude that early in the morning, since I tend to wake up more like Grumpy Cat until the coffee kicks in. This is nothing new… not reinventing the wheel or anything, but it is delicious, satisfying and keeps me full until my workout recovery smoothie or lunch.

Avocado Toast

  • 1/2 avocado
  • juice of 1/2 lemon or lime
  • your choice of toast or English muffin
  • salt & pepper
  • crushed red pepper flakes

Mash avocado with lemon juice and salt and pepper. Spread on toast or English muffin. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes.

Simple Ingredients
Simple Ingredients
A quick and easy breakfast for those busy mornings
A quick and easy breakfast for those busy mornings

It’s that simple! And you have the other half of the avocado and lemon for the next day. I usually add a hard-boiled egg (which I prep on Sundays) and some fruit for a well rounded meal. But it’s great alone and works on the go. Plus the red pepper adds a little metabolism booster too! To me, it’s the perfect breakfast!

Try it, you might like it!!




Try it: Tone It Up

share love inspire sweat

The week leading up to the New Year is always difficult for me. The rush and joy of the holidays are over, the weather is gross and I miss my Dad and sister a little more than usual. So I take inventory on the past year, decide what I want to change and plan to attack my New Year’s Resolutions… until February when, like everyone else, life gets in the way and I fall off track.

I was almost 5 months postpartum and things were not snapping back into place after Baby #3. Granted I started off pregnancy #3 a little squishier than usual too, exercise has never been something I stick with. I knew I wanted to get healthier and to be totally honest, I really just wanted to look better. I knew I would be limited with an infant’s demands and schedule, so it would have to be something I could do quickly and on my own time. Childcare at the gym didn’t start until the baby was 6 months old and classes at other studios were out do to lack of childcare. I had a drawer full of exercise videos, but I knew myself well enough to know I wouldn’t stick with them.

Then I remembered watching a show on Bravo while I was pregnant. Toned Up, featured two super fit, quirky and inspiring BFFs, Karena and Katrina, who created workout videos on the beach in Southern California. I was instantly addicted to the show… I mean it was on Bravo, and I am a Bravoholic to the core. But I was pregnant and not looking to workout, so I had forgot about it until I was staring at my lumpy postpartum body. I checked out Tone It Up, and found they were starting their Love Your Body Challenge on New Year’s Day. I decided to give it a try.

My fitness buddy on our first workout together.
My fitness buddy on our first workout together.

I started January 1st, just like everyone else. But a few weeks in I realized, I had finally found what I was looking for… and so much more! First, I could stream the free YouTube videos to my living room television. The videos were easy enough for a beginner, but still challenging as my fitness level improved. The weekly workout schedule takes the guesswork out of what to do when and keeps me from getting bored. The videos are quick and efficient, perfect for first thing in the morning (#tiubootycall) or fitting in during nap time, your lunch break or after work. At first I struggled through the workouts, but Karena and Katrina are so inspiring… it’s like they are there with you and know you are about to give up and they will say “stay with me” or “remember why you started” and just like that I could push through and finish. It sounds a little silly, but here we are in October and I haven’t given up… I’m actually in the middle of the Fit For Fall challenge!!

Getting fit and giving back!! These girls do things right!
Getting fit and giving back!! These girls do things right!

The best part of Tone It Up, and the part I had no idea I was looking for, is the community. I started an Instagram account for fitness accountability, you can follow me @kateandsmalls.tiu. There I found the most amazing group of real, inspiring, and always motivating women. If I’m feeling lazy, I scroll through my IG feed and see women from around world that have killed their workouts and it really motivates me to get up and do something. If I’m having a hard day or had a bad workout, there are women who sympathize, support and encourage me. When I feel like I’m not seeing any changes, there are women that share their journey, progress pictures and reminders that these changes take time. Everyone’s journey is different, we each have our own struggles and goals, but we, as the TIU community, are there for one another through it all! And I know I’m not the only one who’s day is made by a little trainer love, @karenakatrina are always encouraging the TIU team on IG.

<3 what these two have created

Not only are these women gorgeous, but they are smart too! Growing an empire of their own. They now have 3 Beach Babe DVDs full of amazing workout videos in fabulous locations. Their book, Tone It Up: 28 Days to Fit, Fierce, and Fabulous, is a great way to help create new habits and focus on your health. They have created Perfect Fit protein powder, quinoa crisps (which are amazing!!) and tea. They have Tone It Up apparel which includes new affordable workout clothes and helped design some amazing Maaji bikinis… totally a goal of mine to wear one some day! And the Holy Grail, the TIU Nutrition Plan filled with tons of recipes and guides you to make better choices. It has taught me not only what I should be eating but when I should be eating certain things. They also include updates for life!

These pictures are mortifying to make public, but you can't deny the progress.
These pictures are mortifying to make public, but you can’t deny the progress.
Half way thru the Bikini Series. Four weeks being on the Nutrition Plan = progress!!
Half way thru the Bikini Series. Four weeks being on the Nutrition Plan = progress!!

It took me 4 moths of sticking with the workouts to reward myself with the Nutrition Plan… and what a reward! The biggest changes I saw were when I started following the Nutrition Plan during the Bikini Series this past April. It was the missing piece. I still struggle with following the plan 100%, but I’m aiming for an 80/20 lifestyle. However, it is nice to know what to do to see results. I’m still a work in progress, but I’m getting there. I’m finding some balance, changing my body for the better, getting stronger, faster and more confident all while setting a good example for my smalls (who love to join in from time to time)! I have Tone It Up to thank for all of it! You don’t have to wait for the New Year to start, start now – go into the holiday season equipped with a plan! Do it for you, who knows you just may like it!!



p.s. This is not a sponsored post, these are 100% my personal opinions. TIU has changed the way I view my body and think of exercise! If you are looking for a community of great women find them on Instagram by following #TIUteam for daily fitness inspiration and motivation.


Try It: Periscope

Periscope = Social Media + connection

If you haven’t checked out Periscope… do it now!! But fair warning, you may never watch television again! I know, you don’t need another form of social media. But Periscope has a different power… it really connects people. It’s not just a pretty picture or a quick witted post, it’s LIVE streaming video! Yes, I said LIVE!! You know what live streaming video does for people? It keeps them real and it brings people you may “follow” on other social media platforms or blogs to life. And viewers get to interact by commenting to get a conversation going and show their love by giving, what else…hearts!

Periscope = Social Media + connection
Periscope = Social Media + connection

I found out about Periscope by way of Instagram, my preferred social media. I looked into it and found there was a daily scoping challenge with prompts, which what just what I needed – as I had no idea what one would scope about. #SeptemberScopers was started by Lauren, at Working Mom Magic, and Julie, at Girl On the Move. It seemed simple enough, so I went way out of my comfort zone and tried it.

I nervously did my first scope, made it through, watched it on the replay and immediately deleted it! I was not at all comfortable with how I looked or sounded (I mean is that really what my voice sounds like? It sure doesn’t sound like that in my head?!) I regrouped and started again… one nice thing about Periscope is that the replays are only available for 24 hours! So if you dislike it, but not enough to delete it, it will be gone in a day. To me, that’s comforting!! So I have been trying to keep up with the challenge and with more practice, it does get easier. Although I still get nervous right before I hit the Broadcast Now button!

What has made it a lot easier is the amazing community of women (and a few men) that scope daily using the hashtag. And because of that success, #OctoberScopers is happening!! As strange as it may sound, I feel like these women are my new friends. And in all honesty, I “see” them more frequently than my real life friends. Because I can tune into scopes while I’m folding laundry, cooking or working around the house while the baby naps… which not many real life friends are interested in (or should be). It has replaced my TV (with the exception of my Thursday night line up of Grey’s, Scandal and HTGAWM, of course) and has gifted me a weekly Girls Night In with #WednesdayWineChat, started by Joanna at Motherhood and Merlot. It seriously feels like hanging out with a group of fun girlfriends drinking wine, chatting and playing games – but from my couch, in my pajamas! Which for my introverted self is a dream come true!!

Daily prompts for #OctoberScopers
Daily prompts for #OctoberScopers

You should check Periscope out and find your tribe. There are so many knowledgeable and generous people on Periscope. And because you are live, the viewers are also more forgiving. So far I have found nothing but encouragement and support when scoping. Not to say I haven’t had a troll or two, but that’s what the blocking feature is for!

Try it, you might like it!!



p.s. Find me on Periscope @kateandsmalls and follow #OctoberScopers and #WednesdayWineChat


I Wish I Were A Runner

The journey begins

On my fitness journey I’ve discovered many things about myself, one of them is painfully obvious… I am not a runner. I run often, yet that does not a runner make. I always find it challenging and not enjoyable. I feel great when its over, but I’m completely miserable from beginning to end. I am not built for running. I have short legs, big boobs and apparently the lungs of an 80 year-old chain smoker. But it’s such and accessible form of exercise, I can do it anywhere and I can include the kids… its the perfect fit for my current situation, yet I loathe it.

I want, so badly, to be one of those girls in the cute outfit killing it on the treadmill,  or the fit mom effortlessly pushing the jogging stroller through the neighborhood or the uber-confident girl running on the beach in a bikini (seriously, how do you do that?!?). I want to feel that “runner’s high” that runner speak of. I’m not sure what kind of euphoric state I’m expecting, I’ve built it up so much in my mind, that I’m bound to be disappointed – but I still want to experience it. I want to cross the finish line at a race, any race, and feel that sense of accomplishment. I really want to be a runner!

I blame this Bugaboo ad for my unrealistic expectations!
I blame this Bugaboo ad for my unrealistic expectations! Seriously, I want the stroller and the body!

And in this day and age…there’s an app for that! I will admit this is not my first go around with the Couch to 5k (C25k) app. I tried it when I got my first smart phone. (I told you, I’ve always wanted to be a runner!) But just downloading the app didn’t make me a runner. I gave it a go, then it got hard and I quit. I’m an excellent quitter, I do it early and I do it often. Change is HARD!! And uncomfortable… but there is no progress without change. So I have started to use the C25k app again, and I have made it to Week 7 out of 8, I am running for 20 minutes non-stop!!! Which is nothing to most people, but to a want-to-be runner its pretty amazing. Its still a struggle, but I’m pushing through. This time I refuse to quit!!

And to make sure that I don’t quit this time… I signed up for a 5k!! A Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning! And yes, I was one of those people that mocked all those Turkey Trotters in years past… that day is a day dedicated to eating. But what a great tradition to start with my smalls, who will doing the 1 mile fun run! To not only tell them to make healthy choices, but to do it together. To lead by example and to show them that exercise is not something to loathe, it should be part of a healthy and balanced life style. Then we will come home and enjoy my favorite holiday… and not just because it’s about eating. Thanksgiving is the one holiday that is not centered around gifts or sweets, but being together with loved ones and being so thankful for each other and all the amazing things we are fortunate enough to experience in this life.

So for now, I will continue to run. I will push through with my headphones on, music blasting, cute outfit and jogging stroller in tow (I can totally look the part). Hoping that if I stick with it, it will become easier. That I will start to enjoy it. That I will cross that finish line. That I will become a runner!!

Every Sunday is now my 5k #SundayRunday
Every Sunday is now my 5k #SundayRunday

So for all the runners out there, how did you learn to love running? Any training tips?




Try it, you might like it!

I say this almost as much as I say "no"!

How many times have you said this to your kids? I have said this a countless number of times in my 8 plus years as a mom. I have encouraged them to try new foods, new sports, new classes and new experiences. Sometimes it is met with compliance, but more often with a hard and fast “NO!!”. Then the negotiating begins, sometimes that works. I have even resorted to bribery on occasion for my creatures of habit – come on, haven’t we all? What is it about the new and unknown that makes us shut down and refuse to consider that we may, in fact, like this new thing?

I know where they get it from… me. (Well not the food part! I love trying new foods.) I’m 100% a creature of habit. I like my routine and scheduled days. My first reaction to new things is usually no and to think of all the possible negative effects of said new thing. I wasn’t always like this. I think it stems from my attempt to control everything in my adult life. To have as many constants in place as possible, limiting the variables and preparing for all worst case scenarios. Because in my life, the worst has happened… the other shoe has dropped and that feeling of having no control is one of the worst feelings in the world.

My dad died very suddenly, without any warning of a massive cerebral hemorrhage three days after Christmas, almost 12 years ago. And my sister, who was 14 at the time, and I found him. Life changing doesn’t even begin to cover it. I found comfort in the the things I could control, the things I could do. The logistics became my comfort zone. More planning and paperwork, less feeling the devastating blow our family had just taken. This event changed the course of my life. It made me very aware of how short life really is. Before my father’s death I had no plans for having children and shortly after that was the farthest thing from my mind. He would never meet them, never know them and even worse… they would never know him.

Something changed a few years after his death, as the size of my extended family took a nosedive, I realized for the first time that I wanted my own big crazy family. Eight years ago my daughter, who was named in honor of my dad, literally brought life back to my little family. She brought so much joy and happiness to all of us. He would have adored her, and she him. But all of her milestones were bittersweet, as we could not share them with him. A few years later, the boy he had always dreamed of was born and as my son has grown he reminds me so much of my dad. He has his temper, the same mischievous look in his eye right before he does something he knows he shouldn’t, the exact same knees (if you knew my dad, you know what I’m talking about) and his love of fun. I have shared pictures and stories with them since they were born, even though its difficult. They ask tons of questions and talk about him often. We were getting on with life, happy with our little growing family and busy with life when the rug was pulled out from under me again.

Three short days after the 9 year anniversary of my father’s death, we received a phone call that no family should. My little sister, who was only 23, had committed suicide. She took a lethal dose of over-the-counter sleeping pills the day after the anniversary of my father’s death and it had taken the police 2 days to locate us in a different state. My sister and I had a complicated relationship, to say the least. She was 7 years younger, stubborn and struggling to manage her Bipolar Disorder. We were not speaking at the time of her death, I was going the tough love route with her… which may not have been what she needed. The amount of regret and what if’s will haunt me for the rest of my life. I always thought we would have time to mend our relationship. I imagined we would grow closer as she grew up and started to take responsibility for her actions. I’ve learned a lot about mental illness since her death and I regret not trying to learn more while she was alive and battling it everyday. I’ve heard so many stories from other survivors of suicide that mimic her struggle. The stigma that is attached to mental illness and suicide make it difficult for people to talk about. And that needs to change. I don’t blame my sister for taking her own life, it breaks my heart but I understand why she did it. In the year after her death, I felt paralyzed. I wanted to shut out the world and protect my family. I wanted to control everything around me and if I couldn’t control it, I would run from it. Not the best example for my children.

stigma-chalkboardSince my sister’s death, we added another sweet little girl to our family. She has brought such happiness to our whole family… not as a replacement, but a loving reminder that life goes on. I will never be an an aunt, nor will by kids ever have cousins from my side of the family, which is something I will always mourn. My dreams of what the future would hold have been rewritten.

It's time to change the way we think about mental illness.
It’s time to change the way we think about mental illness.

As I have slowly picked up the pieces and realized, once again, how short life is I want to live my life to the fullest. I want to lead by example and show my kids that life is meant to be lived. Getting out of your comfort zone, even though its scary, is the best part. And this blog is how I will document and hold myself accountable to trying new things. I can guarantee I will not like everything I try, but I just may surprise myself. As for the kids, they will continue to hear “try it, you might like it!” on a daily basis, because how how will you know unless you try?

I’d love to hear how you have stepped out of your comfort zone or an activity that you have always wanted to try. I’m always looking to add to my “Try it” list, so comment below and you may see your suggestion on the blog!!