Friday, April 29, 2011

Review: Playtex Sport Body Wipes

I don't know if I've mentioned it before on this blog, but I'm a member of a pretty cool website called {Crowdtap}.Through it, sometimes I have the opportunity to sample products or throw house parties. I also have the opportunity to give feedback to brands, answer surveys, and sometimes be awarded with money for my responses that I can cash in as an Amazon Gift Card--I've cashed in $50 already this year. Plus, 5% of everything you earn is donated to a charity of your choice, and then Crowdtap matches the donation.

Anyway, I recently had the opportunity to review and share the new Playtex Sport Body Wipes that were launched earlier this month. I was kind of excited about them, because I thought the single-serving packages would be nice for after our softball games this spring and summer--we often end up going out to eat or grocery shopping after our games, and it would be nice not to always SMELL like I had just played softball.

That said, I have pretty sensitive skin and have had some BAD reactions to beauty products before, so I thought it was wise to try these out in the privacy of my own home first! So today, after my Insanity workout, I tried one out.

The first thing I noticed was the scent. It's labeled by Playtex as "Fresh and Clean"--and it was pungent, but not unpleasant. Personally, I would have appreciated a bit of a milder scent (I usually shy away from scented body products due to the aforementioned reactions), but it wasn't bad and didn't make me break out in hives, so that's a plus. The package says "Great for the entire body!" and notes that the wipes are alcohol free, but I still didn't feel comfortable using the wipe on my face--the scent was just too strong for me and I was worried that it might cause breakouts.

Additionally, it bears mentioning that while these are billed as being a great alternative to a shower when you don't have the time (say after working out on your lunch break), I think that they're going to be most useful in terms of moderate exercise...'cause let's be honest, after Insanity, my hair is so drenched with sweat that I'm not sure that using a body wipe would make that much of a difference. However, for moderate exercise, and especially hiking, I think these could be a great addition to my bag of tricks.

One caveat--these seem very much like scented baby wipes to me, so in order for these to be something that I'd actually purchase, I'd need them to be priced similarly to baby wipes. Assuming they were, I think I probably would purchase these in the future.

Oh, and also, the wipes say that their flushable, but I am fairly sure my husband (who works for a plumbing company) would beg to differ, or at least recommend against it. And there you have it.

Note: I was provided these sport wipes by Playtex, through Crowdtap. As part of my participation on Crowdtap, I will be writing a similar review of my experience with this product. The top 1 in 25 reviewers receive a $25 credit towards an Amazon gift card, but other than that opportunity, I did not receive any compensation for this post. In fact, a blog post was in no way a requirement of Crowdtap...I just blog about pretty much everything in my life, and figured that some of the women who read my blog would either (a) be interested to hear about a product like this or (b) have seen this product already and wondered whether it was worth it. So there you go!

On Swimming

-Yesterday was our first Mom & Me swim lesson of the year. Lizzy loved it, even though the instructor hadn't taught this class before and didn't really know what she was doing--but it doesn't take a rocket scientist to sing kid songs and spin around the pool. Plus, I'm sure the instructor will get more comfortable as the month goes on.

- Plus, I told Justin that it's worth it to me to pay for the lessons just to get her in the water twice a week, and our local pool literally only offers one open swim a week, and it's usually packed to the gills with 9 and 10 year olds who have no regard for anyone else and think it is funny to spray Lizzy and me in the face with a squirt gun. Unfortunately, their parents don't really seem to notice or care. So, considering that we were the only people in the pool at the lesson yesterday, it's worth it for that reason alone.

-However, I do have a question or two that the instructor couldn't answer, so Emily from imperfect (or anyone else who has experience in this area), if you're reading, I'd love to know when I should stop blowing in Lizzy's face before I dunk her? When I asked the instructor, she said, "Wait, why would you blow in her face before you dunk her?" LOL.

-Good News: My swimsuit from last year is now so big that when I would bounce in the water, my bottoms would float up so much that you could see my entire butt cheek. The leg holes are SO much bigger than I need this year, which is kind of awesome.

-Bad News: This means I need to go swimsuit shopping, which I don't think has been an enjoyable experience, ever.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

A Peek Into My House--Living Room

Justin and I live in a modest house--actually, not much bigger than the apartment that we used to rent. But, it's ours, and I think it is plenty of space, especially if we could pare down some of our "stuff" a little bit. For the first year that we lived here, our house pretty much looked like this:

To the left of the loveseat were three bookshelves, and a little walkway that took you to the garage door. There were definitely some things that I liked about this layout, but as always, I found myself itching to change things before long. About a year after we moved in, we switched things to this:

I did like the look of this layout, but we quickly realized that it probably wouldn't be functional for our purposes once Lizzy arrived--we don't have a spare room/playroom, and her nursery wasn't really big enough to store toys in, and certainly not to spend the bulk of our day playing in. We knew that we'd be spending 99% of our time during the day in the living room, and needed a layout that allowed for a little more room to play, and to set up a Pack 'N Play since we haven't been able to find a baby gate that will fit the entry to our dining room/kitchen, and our laundry is outside (which means that I'm running in and out all day). Enter the current arrangement:


The goal for me for our house has always been to have a living room that feels casual--like you can kick off your shoes and hang out. Not have to worry about kids getting into something they shouldn't or breaking something. A space where I can curl up with a cup of coffee, a blanket, and chat with a friend while our kids play. Relaxed. Comfortable. Not stuffy. Maybe a touch of fun or whimsy.

I love that we have so much more room to play, but sometimes it feels a little sparse. I feel like it needs something (other than trim around the door), but I feel like the only place I have to put something is on the walls, and I'm just not sure what to do there. I do have one idea- the frames on the new gallery wall all need another coat of paint anyway (I used Rustoleum's no sanding safe for all surfaces spray paint), and I'm considering painting them canary yellow. Thoughts?

Right side of the room, based on the above photo:


We used to have different curtain panels, but I was tired of them, and they don't match the color scheme that I'd like to go for in this room, so I tossed up some white panels that I already had for now until I decide what to do. Also, this room tends to be a cave and not get much natural light for most of the day, so I wanted to see if white panels made it feel lighter visually. Maybe I should dye THEM canary yellow. I'm kind of liking the idea of yellow right now. It's so spring-y. The problem is that I'm not sure I'd love it come winter time. Overall though, I don't like much about this side of the room. I feel like we need a better solution for the blankets Lizzy is climbing on, and for my computer. I also don't know what to put on the walls by the curtains, if anything.

Left side:

Looking toward the back. Another blank wall.
Man, what I would give to paint that hutch white. Or turquoise. But Justin loves it as is, and he lives here too, so I suppose he does get some say in things ;)

Here's the pillow slipcovers that I made:

I used the heat-bond tape stuff, and even though I followed the directions painstakingly, they are starting to separate in some spots. Grr.

So there you have it. This is where Lizzy and I spend nearly all of our days. And just because I know it makes me feel better when other people do it, here's what our house ACTUALLY looks like most of the time (and this is on a good day):


Wednesday, April 27, 2011



Because it's 7am and we're on our second meltdown of the day.
Because I'm exhausted and miss sleeping without holding a toddler.
Because I have a cold and need cheering up.
Because I want to remember this.

Lizzy has started to say an increasing number of words. For example, she can say "Banana" (Bah-NAAYYY). She takes great pride in saying Da-Da whenever she talks to Justin on the phone. If anything even slightly grazes her head, she clutches her head and says "OW!".

We've continued on the asking questions kick, and lately, instead of making the silly face that I mentioned in her 15 month letter, she says, "Tes!", which apparently means yes.

Lizzy loves to sing and play "Ring Around the Roses", and likes to join in saying, "Asses, Asses [we all fall] DOWN!", which admittedly, makes me crack up every time.

But perhaps my favorite Lizzy-ism to date came yesterday. We were in the car listening to a CD of kids Bible Songs, which I think that I like listening to way more than she does. Anyway, "Jesus Loves Me" came on, and I noticed that during the chorus, when the kids sing, "Yes, Jesus loves me!", Lizzy yelled "CHEESE!" as loudly as possible. Every time. The rest of the day, any time I'd ask her if she could say Jesus, she'd smile and yell "CHEESE!"

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Yada Yada clan...

-My sweet husband worked 133 hours in the past two weeks. Suffice to say, we're both pretty exhausted.We're also both pretty thankful that he's an hourly employee rather than a salaried one.

-I am in *desperate* need of some highlights (see the last post for proof). I'm debating whether to go to the beauty school, or to enlist my sister to do the Frost N Glow highlights-in-a-box method.

-The cold-weather garden plants are mostly in. I also planted some iris bulbs this year, and I'm excited to see how those turn out. Also, I pruned one of the big bushes in front of our house last week, and my forearms had uncontrollable spasms for the rest of the day. It was kind of funny!

-Since our local pool is apparently filled with crazy-people who only offer infant swim lessons at 8pm, I've been searching around for an alternative nearby. I think I've found somewhere, and I'm excited. As of late, even your basic bath causes mass hysteria, so I want to get Lizzy back in the pool and familiar with things!

- I got Jillian Michaels's new "Ripped in 30" DVD, which has been awesome during these past crazy weeks where there's no way that I can fit 70 minutes of daily workout in (Month 2 of Insanity), but 20 minutes of Jillian seems much more manageable. Still, I can't help but notice that most of the exercises are veeerrrrrryyyy similar to Insanity. And Jillian even keeps telling me to "dig deep". I don't know whether to be thrilled that I'm not totally abandoning the Insanity workouts, or irritated that the two DVDs are so strikingly similar. On the upside, for those of you who indicated that you'd like to try Insanity but can't afford to shell out the cash, apparently "Ripped in 30" is a good alternative.

-I made a gallery wall. And some pillow slip covers. Both turned out kind of okay, but not perfect, which is pretty much why I hate doing crafts of any sort. I want things to be perfect, or not done at all. I followed all of the usual instructions for making a gallery wall--tracing paper the size of the frames, marking where the picture hangers are, taping the paper to the wall, measuring spacing, nailing in the holes, then hanging the frames. Still, the entire wall appears to be slightly tilted down and to the right. It actually is the same distance from the floor and the ceiling, it just appears to be slanted....I don't know what's up, but it's ticking me off. I might try putting actual picture hangers (opposed to just nails) up and see if that helps? It's the only relatively easy thing I can think to try, since I've already re-done the entire wall four times with no greater success. I kind of think our house just may be slanted. Seriously.

*100 bonus points to you if you get the post title reference.

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Power of the Cross

Today, April 22nd, is Good Friday. Good Friday is the Friday before Easter, and is the day in which the Lutheran church observes Christ’s crucifixion at Calvary. In the past, I’ve always understood and observed Easter, but it’s really only been within the last few years that I have REALLY started to understand the significance of all the other days that make up Holy Week. This year, I’ve been thinking a lot about Good Friday in particular, and really the weight of what that means for me.

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. – John 3:16-17 ESV

A few weeks ago, I heard about a sermon illustration wherein members of the congregation stood up at the front of the church holding up signs that said, “I used to be ___________.” Their blanks were filled with things like “a drug addict” or “bulimic” or “afraid” or “lonely” or “hopeless”. Then, everyone flipped their signs over to reveal something new. Their signs then said, “Through the power of the cross, now I am _________.” Their blanks were then filled with things like “500 days sober” or “loved” or “reconciled with my family” or “hopeful”.

I immediately started thinking of Good Friday and how this illustration is the perfect example of how what Christ did then on the cross is relevant to me today, and knew that I wanted to do this on my blog.

See, every person in the world has tough issues that they and their family deal with. Divorce. Infidelity. Shame. Family Conflict. Drugs and Alcohol. Hatred. Regret. Every single person. No one in the world, Christian or not, is exempt. Everyone has a story. However, in the midst of all of that, there is hope. Not because of anything that you or I have done, but because of Christ’s work on the cross.

It is because Jesus died on the cross at Calvary that I have a hope.

Personally, I grew up in the church, so I don’t have a “Before I was Saved” story—but even as someone who has believed in Jesus for as long as I can remember, I have walked through tough things. I have not always had a relationship with God. Even as someone who has been a Christian their whole life, I have needed redemption and grace. I am so thankful that I have received it, not because of anything that I’ve done, but because of what Jesus did for me on Good Friday so many years ago.


I’ve shared on this blog before about our decision for me to stay at home, and how scary that was for us financially. But Justin and I were both absolutely sure that it was what God was calling us to do—and let me say, I had never EVER felt like God was calling me to do something specific before. I know people talk about it all the time, and admittedly, I used to kind of roll my eyes and think to myself, ‘Do you REALLY think God cares about THAT?’ And then it happened to me, and it totally freaked me out, because it didn’t make any sense. Ultimately, we took the leap of faith, and it has been amazing to watch the ways in which God has provided for our needs. Things haven’t been perfect. We’ve made some mistakes along the way, but the mistakes were ours, not God’s—and I think we’re beginning to learn that God may not provide for all of our wants, but he will provide for our needs. It has been a wonderful and humbling experience that has undoubtedly brought me closer to Him.

I am blessed that a few friends were willing to share their “cardboard testimony” today as well:

Kaitlin (and Jesse!) @ My Crazy Unpredictable Life:

(Two deployments in two years, five moves in four years, bedrest, 35 week NICU baby boy--through the power of the cross, our marriage survived!)


Kristal @ Mama At Home:



Megan @ Girl Meets Life:



Sarah @ Sarah Says...:

Sarah1 (2)


And if you haven't seen it already, I'd really encourage you to watch this video of "cardboard testimonies" as well. I pretty much cry like a baby every time.

I'm not going to say much in conclusion, because I think this all speaks for itself. I just want to end with a bit of one of my favorite songs. It's a song you're all probably familiar with. It's one of those songs that's easy to just pass over without really thinking about because it is so familiar. Today, I encourage you to slow down for just a minute and relish these words:

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now I’m found, was blind, but now I see.

Praise God.

Thank you Kait, Jesse, Kristal, Megan, and Sarah for your courage in sharing and being a part of this!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

You Might Live in Oregon If....

Someone sent this to me, and I thought it was pretty funny. I believe it was credited to Jeff Foxworthy, but I have no idea whether or not that's a correct attribution! Passing it on for any fellow Oregonians out there, though I will say that most of it applies to Washington state as well!

If someone in a Home Depot store offers you assistance and they don't work there, you live in Oregon.

If you've worn shorts, sandals and a parka at the same time, you live in Oregon.

If you've had a lengthy telephone conversation with someone who dialed the wrong number, you live in Oregon.

If you measure distance in hours, you live in Oregon.

If you know several people who have hit a deer more than once, you live in Oregon.

If you have switched from 'heat' to 'A/C' and back again in the same day, you live in Oregon.

If you install security lights on your house and garage but leave both doors unlocked, you live in Oregon.

If you can drive 75 mph through 2 feet of snow during a raging blizzard without flinching, you live in Central, Southern or Eastern Oregon.

If you design your kid's Halloween costume to fit over a 2 layers of clothes or under a raincoat, you live in Oregon.

If driving is better in the winter because the potholes are filled with snow and ice, you live in Oregon.

If you know all 4 seasons: almost winter, winter, still winter, and road construction, you live in Oregon.

If you feel guilty throwing aluminum cans or paper in the trash, you live in Oregon.

If you know more than 10 ways to order coffee, you live in Oregon.

If you know more people who own boats than air conditioners, you live in Oregon.

If you stand on a deserted corner in the rain waiting for the "Walk" signal, you live in Oregon.

If you consider that if it has no snow or has not recently erupted, it is not a real mountain, you live in Oregon.

If you can taste the difference between Starbucks, Seattle's Best, and Dutch Bros, you live in Oregon.

If you know the difference between Chinook, Coho and Sockeye salmon, you live in Oregon.

If you know how to pronounce Multnomah, Klamath, Sequim, Puyallup, Clatskanie, Issaquah, Oregon, Umpqua, Yakima and Willamette, you live in Oregon.

If you consider swimming an indoor sport, you live in Oregon.

If you know that Boring is a city and not just a feeling, you live in Oregon.

 If you never go camping without waterproof matches and a poncho, you live in Oregon.

If you have actually used your mountain bike on a mountain, you live in Oregon.

If you think people who use umbrellas are either wimps or tourists, you live in Oregon.

If you buy new sunglasses every year, because you cannot find the old ones after such a long time, you live in Oregon.

If you actually understand these jokes you live or have lived in Oregon

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Get-Real Barbie

*Note: In college, I took a class that was called "Big Fat Lies". It was basically a class that dealt with women's body issues surrounding weight, and it was fascinating. We saw this then, but it had slipped my mind until I saw it again recently, and I thought I'd share. This post wasn't necessarily meant to start a debate about whether or not our kids should have Barbies, but I think this is really interesting info for all women (and men) to have, especially parents.

Keeping the same proportions, this is what Barbie would look like blown up to human size. 

• There are two Barbie dolls sold every second in the world.
• The target market for Barbie doll sales is young girls ages 3-12 years of age.
• A girl usually has her first Barbie by age 3, and collects a total of seven dolls during her childhood.
• Over a billion dollars worth of Barbie dolls and accessories were sold in 1993, making this doll big business and one of the top 10 toys sold.
• If Barbie were an actual women, she would be 5’9″ tall, have a 39″ bust, an 18″ waist, 33″ hips and a size 3 shoe.
• Barbie calls this a “full figure” and likes her weight at 110 lbs.
• At 5’9″ tall and weighing 110 lbs, Barbie would have a BMI of 16.24 and fit the weight criteria for anorexia. She likely would not menstruate.
• If Barbie was a real woman, she’d have to walk on all fours due to her proportions.

You can find the PDF fact sheet from the National Eating Disorders Association about Barbie {here}

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Friendly Reminder!

If you were planning on participating in the Good Friday cardboard testimonials post, IT'S NOT TOO LATE! Please get me your photos as soon as possible, but I really want to make sure that everyone who indicated that they want to participate gets an opportuntiy, so I will try and keep it open as long as I can!

Thanks to Kait and Kristal for sending their photos to me already--they look perfect!

Letter to Lizzy- Fifteen Months

Dear Lizard,

Last week, you officially turned 15 months old. As always, this past month has brought lots of fun developments and changes! For example, since we've been staying with Grandma Joyce and Grandpa Mike, you've really enjoyed playing with their dog Buddy, and have learned how to bark. Any time Buddy barks, you respond with a loud "Whoo! Whoo!", which is your best interpretation of "woof".

You also have also had lots of experience talking to your dad on the phone recently, and now love to pretend that anything and everything is your phone, and walk around just jabbering away.


One of your favorite things to do right now is to sing Ring Around the Rosey. You love to spin around as fast as you can and then sit down on your bottom. And then at the end of the song, you often throw your hands in the air as if to say "TA DA!"



You are very interested in giving loves, and were quite concerned when your Aunt Courtney was sick this past week. Several different times, you accidentally woke her up trying to give her pats and loves.


This past month we also took you to the park that used to be my favorite growing up. I have to admit, it's still pretty cool, even though they've since removed all the coolest parts because they were too 'dangerous'.


You had a lot of fun climbing through the maze, and love swinging and going down the slides!


This month hasn't been without its challenges--you have basically been attached to my hip 24/7 (which can get a little exhausting), but it has also been a lot of fun watching you interact with us more and more every day. You are so smart baby girl, and I hope you're always proud of that!

All my love,

Monday, April 18, 2011

Good & Bad

The Bad:
-Justin's been out of town for work, and it's just hard. It's even harder knowing that it will probably be several more weeks before he's home for more than a day or two at a time.
-Any time Justin goes out of town for work, Lizzy gets super clingy to me (she's a smart cookie...she realizes that dad is gone and plans to make darn sure that I don't go anywhere either). She's like a barnacle. If I walk out of the living room into the kitchen, it's a total meltdown. If I go to the bathroom, total meltdown. Trying to put her in her high chair to meltdown. Leaving her in child care for Bible Study or Mom's Group is out of the question....she even gets hysterical if people that she's usually just fine with (like my parents) try to pick her up and walk out of my line of sight. She literally wants me to walk around and hold her twenty four hours a day. I'm not exaggerating. I've literally held her pretty much all night long for the last several nights. Ditto for naps. 
-I'm kind of exhausted, and I just really miss Justin.
-So Insanity? Not happening right now. 

The Good:
-Justin is working. Even if he's out of town, at least he has a job.
-Justin is working long hours, which means that coupled with the $2/hour raise he recently got (yeah babe!), hopefully this month's paycheck will be a nice big one.
-I do get to see Justin for a day or two here and there in the midst of the never-ending work trip.
-I'm blessed that both sides of our family are super helpful and supportive, and are willing and eager to have Lizzy and I come and stay for a few days, have us over for dinner, help out with anything I need, and call to check in on us. My family (many of whom I'm also lucky enough to claim as friends) is awesome.
-Even though I haven't been doing Insanity, I have managed to get in workouts from Jillian Michaels' new "Ripped in 30" DVD nearly every day--which actually are a lot of similar exercises to Insanity, but in a 30 minute format, which just feels a lot more manageable right now. The other day, she even told me to 'dig deeper,' LOL!
-We played our first softball game last night, and won 20-2! Wooo! We all played well, and it was a ton of fun. It doesn't ruin my night when we lose, but I have to admit that it's much more fun when we win! And I'm much stronger and faster than I was last year (I can hardly believe that I had only had Lizzy 4 months ago when we played last year!), and it feels awesome.
-Today, I get to have breakfast with my best friend from high school! She lives out of state and works nights as a nurse, so we don't get to see each other or even talk to each other all that often, but I love that when we do connect, it's like no time has passed at all. I have a handful of friends like that, and I've always thought that it really is the mark of an awesome friendship!
-Speaking of awesome friends, Kaitlin, Jesse, and Jaxon will be here in 17 days!!! Hopefully, Justin will be here too...

Trying to remember that the good outweighs the bad this week...once again, "La Vida Es Un Carnaval" has become my ANTHEM.


Friday, April 15, 2011

Sleep Dilema

I want to hear your guys's opinions on this little sleep dilema that I've got going on with Lizzy right now. Basically, the story is that Justin has been out of town for work, so Lizzy and I have been visiting my parents. My sister has been nice enough to let us sleep in her bedroom--me in the bed, Lizzy in her Pack N least, that's what's supposed to happen.

What has actually happened is that Lizzy WILL NOT SLEEP unless I'm holding her or unless she's in the bed with me. After battling with her for HOURS, I finally just let her sleep on my chest at about 3:30am this morning, but that's not something that I'm happy about doing, because I know it will probably result in battle royale in terms of sleep once we're back home. However, I also don't know what else to do--she isn't comforted at all by just a hand on her chest, and I obviously don't want to keep the rest of the house up all night by trying to let her cry or fuss at 2am.

Anybody experienced anything like this while on vacation? What did you guys do?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Squishy Newborn Goodness

So, I've wanted to try newborn photography for awhile--I had a good idea about what it entailed, but it was one of those things that I just wasn't sure whether or not I'd love until I had a chance to actually try it. I thought that I'd give it a shot with Lizzy, but that just didn't happen. The first two weeks of Lizzy being born are just a gigantic blur of pain, bliss, joy, and exhaustion...and a photo shoot (especially one with me climbing onto chairs and laying on the floor) was the last thing on my mind.

I have quite a few (like seven) friends who are currently pregnant, so I asked a few of them if I could come try out newborn photography with their little ones. Yesterday, I got to photograph my friend Emily's ten day old son Josiah: 

Josiah (31)

Josiah (8)

Josiah (34)

Josiah (3)

Josiah (23)

Josiah (19)

I kind of want to do this every day.

Monday, April 11, 2011

My First 5k

{Justin, Me, Renee, and Ryan after our 5k}

Well, this weekend, I knocked another thing off my 101 in 1001 list (I am too lazy to link to it right now, but if you are so inclined, there's a link to it in the blog header)--we completed a 5k!

I did Couch to 5k several months ago, but never actually ran a 5k within the 30 minute time period. Since then, I've been running once or twice, but mostly we've just been doing Insanity. So, we agreed that we were just going to enter, Justin would help pace me, and we would just run when we could and walk when we could, not stressing too much about it because we haven't been training.

My goal was to finish in 45 minutes or less, which is probably pretty slow for some people, but I tend to jog a 13 minute mile pace (which I think is right about 40 minutes), and wanted some leeway for running outside since that's not something I do a lot. But, my secret goal that I didn't tell anyone (not even Justin) was under 40 minutes. Well, our final time was definitely hit the first goal, didn't hit the secret goal...but I'm not sure that I could have pushed it much more, honestly. I'm not sure what percentage running versus walking we did, but we definitely did some of each.

I know everyone talks about how awesome their first 5k was regardless of their time, but it was actually kind of frustrating for me because of my asthma. I took my inhaler before we started (I use both a fast-acting and a slow acting inhaler), and then left it in the car because I don't usually use it WHILE I'm working out. But between the fact that this is my bad allergy season, and the fact that the race was in the AM (cold air + higher pollen count in the AM = worse asthma), it was BAD. I was wheezing big time. My asthma is *STILL* really bad and painful three days later. The frustrating part for me was that there were several times when I wanted to keep running, and I knew that my body was capable of running, but I was having such a hard time getting air that I couldn't. And there wasn't a darn thing I could do about it, so I cried (which also didn't help the asthma). Justin was a trooper and a great motivator though. He was great about pointing out landmarks and saying "We'll walk there" or "We'll run once you reach that street". We finished the race running, so that was awesome. I'm really happy he was there with me.  He's seriously competitive, so I know it probably killed him not to be able to run as fast as he could, so I really appreciate that he ran with me {Love you babe!}!

We were talking about actually training and trying to better our times next year (though Renee was already sixth in our age division! Yeah Renee!)...but I'm kind of thinking about training after we finish Insanity and trying the 4th of July 5k. Next time, I think that using Justin's iPhone to show us our pace and progress would probably be helpful for me, as would listening to music while I'm running (WHY in the world didn't I?!).

Overall, it was probably a good experience, and I'm glad we did it, even though we didn't make my secret goal. I mean, I guess we could have just been sitting on the couch!

Thursday, April 7, 2011


-Remember how last Friday I posted all those spring-y pictures and said I was so excited that spring was finally here? Yeah, it's snowing right now. And we have softball practice tonight. Awesome.

-Oh, and also a 5k on Saturday morning. Justin is going to push Lizzy in the jogger--he has never run using the jogger, so I think this will be very interesting. On one hand, I'm kind of stressed because even though 3.1 miles probably doesn't seem very far to most people, I've never run that far. And we haven't been training, just doing Insanity (though we've even been slacking a little there these last few days). I know we're in good cardiovascular shape, but I just don't feel totally prepared. I keep telling myself that we're just going to go and do it, and if we have to walk some of the time, who cares (I tell myself this, but I'm not sure whether or not I totally believe it!).

-Lately, I've been trying to be good about asking Lizzy questions whenever she's fussy (i.e. "Are you hungry?" or "Do you need your diaper changed?"). When I finally ask the right question, she makes this face:


-I'm really excited about doing a special feature on Good Friday called "The Power of the Cross" that combines photography and my faith. I'm looking for other people to participate, so if you're intrigued or want to participate, let me know! This is kind of one of those things for me where I feel pretty strongly that I'm supposed to do it, but I need a lot of help and support to actually make it happen. I told Justin last night that it's sort of one of those situations where it's like, "Okay God, I'm listening, but NOW WHAT?!"

-Last Friday, I made myself a "pizza" that consisted of whole wheat crust, balsamic vinegar, spinach, strawberries, and blue cheese. It was delicious. I can't stop thinking about it and how I want to make it again plus chicken. Or maybe in a turkey-pannini form:


-As many of you are probably aware, unless congress can get it together, there will be a government shut-down on Friday. I get pretty riled up about this, and one of my major frustrations is that I feel like the politicians keep forgetting that there are real people who will be severely affected by the shut-down (because let's face it, many of them won't be severely affected). Our good friends Kait & Jesse are a good example--in which Jesse would be expected to keep coming to work and not be paid. Seriously, go read her blog post {Walking A Line Between Panic and Prepared}.

-And just because:


Linked Up

If you haven't already, go check out Lyryn's blog Breaking Free ( just click on the image above). This week, Lyryn (and I think her husband as well) will be talking about their history with infidelity in their marriage, and how they came out on the other side.

Infidelity is such a tricky subject--I know so many people, even within the Christian community, who would leave a marriage due to infidelity, no questions asked. Obviously, nothing is black and white, and sometimes divorce in that situation may be warranted, and even recommended by a pastor. However, I also believe that in some instances, infidelity can be worked through within a marriage. If both parties are willing, it can be reconciled and redeemed.

I really appreciate Lyryn's honesty and transparency about their circumstances, and I hope you'll check out her blog and support her through this!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Asked & Answered

Brace yourselves...this post is a doozy! Feel free just to skip to your own question, because I'm not even sure that I'd read this whole post, and I'm the one who wrote it!

Kimberly asked: I love hearing the story of how couples met/their early relationship. So whats your story?
Justin and I have different opinions about exactly how and when we met, but we do both agree that we met at a camping trip attended by a bunch of different churches. We met in high school, and were friends for several years. I had the biggest crush on him for YEARS, but had no idea that the feeling was pretty mutual. We started dating about a month before I moved away to college, so the first year of us dating was totally long-distance!

Emily asked: I've been wondering about the uncomfortable photography situation from a few months ago...did that ever get resolved, or did you leave it as is? 
If you have no idea what Emily is talking about, you can read the original post here: {Bummed}

So, picking up where that post left off, after I eventually removed the photos from Facebook due to not having a model release, the mom responded to me that she had not signed a release because they were extremely disappointed with the shoot. I was flabbergasted. She had been telling me for a month how much she loved the shoot and blasting it all over Facebook. That particular shoot is *still* one of my favorites to date. I *still* get contacted from people who tell me that she referred them after they saw that shoot. I'm *still* bummed that I can't use it as part of my portfolio. So,I was flabbergasted. Upset. And suddenly really insecure. Anyway, I responded that I was sorry to hear that she was disappointed, that I was happy she had told me, and asked if she could clarify what she was unhappy with so that I could attempt to make it right.

I never heard from her. A month or so later, I noticed that my original photo was her profile picture on Facebook, but we still haven't spoken, even though we've seen each other in person several times. I'm definitely at least partially to blame for that, as I was still harboring a ton of bitterness and hurt feelings, even up to this month. A few weeks ago, I noticed that I was de-friended on Facebook. To date, I'm not sure whether she was really unhappy with the pictures, or whether I just happened to get the fallout from a totally unrelated conflict that was occurring within the church/school at the time, which I actually had no idea about {It's hard being related to the pastor sometimes--I've learned that sometimes people take their frustrations about something that the church or board is doing out on us, even though we often have no clue that it's even a point of contention}.

I definitely have my own suspicions about why and how this all happened, and oh BOY am I dying to share them...but the fact is that they're just speculations, and I'm really trying to walk the line between being transparent, and spreading gossip. Either way, I'm still kind of bummed about the way it all turned out, and if she was truly disappointed, I wish that I had been given the opportunity to make it right.

She also asked:  What has been the most challenging part of parenting that you didn't expect?
Mere- For me, it has probably been the exhaustion/sleep deprivation. I mean, I expected it, I just don't think that I really anticipated how exhausting it would be to not really sleep more than 4 hours at any given time for over a year. That kind of sleep deprivation affects everything.

Justin- The sudden change in Lizzy's moods.  She can be totally happy with me one minute and the next she is trying to gouge out my face or chew off one of the big arteries in my neck.  Sometimes it hurts my heart.

Kaitlin asked: Mere-what's your favorite thing about Justin? Justin-what's your favorite thing about Mere? 
Mere-  There are lots of things! But one of my favorite things about Justin is his sense of humor. There are very few days that I go without laughing when he's around, and if I do, it's my fault for being in a bad mood. He always has jokes, funny stories, and he will do ANYTHING to get people to laugh. It's really hard to stay mad or upset when Justin is around :)

Justin- She doesn't stay mad at me.  She's also really smart about everything I'm not. 

And also: How has your marriage changed since you've had Lizzy? Good and bad?
Mere- Well, I think that the obvious thing is that there's a lot less time spent just the two of us. And often, once Lizzy is asleep for the night, we're then either doing Insanity, or so doggone tired that we're just vegging on the couch instead of really talking and spending time together. There have definitely been times where I've felt more like roommates than spouses...I think that we just need to be more intentional about having date nights or carving out time for the two of us to reconnect.

Justin- We definitely fight more.  I think when you have kids there is less attention towards one another so things/conversations get mixed up.  We have conversations where one of us wont remember what was said so when something comes up its always, " You never told me that!".  I guess that just means we need to make sure that we communicate better and maybe save the more important conversations for when there are less distractions going on.

Kristal asked: When will baby #2 make an appearance? :)
You know, I'm not entirely sure. Justin and I had always talked about having kids about 2 years apart (which would basically mean being pregnant now). I think Justin would be fine with me being pregnant now, but earlier this year we agreed to wait until our softball season was over this summer to discuss it. Aside from really wanting to play softball this year, there are several factors at play for me--first, I really didn't enjoy being pregnant. This might be TMI, but I bled pretty heavily the whole time. The doctor couldn't tell us why, and there were many nights where I went to bed wondering whether or not I was miscarrying. It was really, really stressful for me, and I'm kind of terrified to have that experience again. Second, I have had a hell of a time losing the baby weight and I'd really like to get down to a more healthy weight, if not my pre-pregnancy weight before getting pregnant again.

But I guess the bottom line is that I just haven't felt any baby fever or pangs of wanting to have another baby at this point, which I take to be a sign that it's not time yet.

She also asked: How many kids would you guys like?
Mere- I don't really have a set number in my head. I've always pictured a big family, but I've also always imagined that we'd get there by fostering or adopting. Adoption is something that I would really like to pursue, but it is so darn expensive, and having worked in the foster care system, I have some trepidation about foster-adopt!

Justin-  I want at least four kids.  More would be cool.  And if we only end up with one, then I will be happy too.  But I believe I was put on this earth to pro-create.  So if that's why I was put here then bring on the hmmm hmmm.

Kristal also asked: What does a normal day look like for you?
We don't really have a normal day...there's a flow to our weeks, but it's different every day. Here's how things generally go:

5am- Up to workout
6am- Lizzy is awake, we putter around having breakfast, reading blogs, showering, getting dressed
9am- We are usually either going for a walk, or heading to basketball, Bible Study, or Mom's Group
11am-12pm- Lunch, Naptime
12-1:30ish- Lizzy doesn't always nap for the same amount of time, but while she's sleeping, I usually try to take some time for myself to either read, do Bible Study, read some blogs. I try to set the timer so that I don't get totally wrapped up (which is all too easy for me to do). Then, I spend some time cleaning, doing laundry, dishes, etc. Sometimes I do what I can to prep for dinner.
2-5pm- We play, sing songs, practice quiet time, etc. Sometimes I'm doing more chores while she's playing.
5-6pm- Hopefully Justin is home. I've either got dinner ready, or I'm just getting started making it.
6-8pm- Depending on the day, we're either playing at home, or off doing something. Right now, we're usually only home one or two evenings a week. On the other evenings, we've either got band practice, softball, Lent services, or our Young Married Bible Study.
7-8pm ish- Bath, get Lizzy ready for bed.
8-10pm- Justin and I hang out, watch TV, or work out if we didn't in the morning.

And: If you could instantly change one thing about your life right now, what would it be?
Mere- My first instinct was that I'd instantly have a completely clean and de-cluttered house, along with a cleaning person who comes once a month to deep-clean.

Justin- I'd have a larger beer fund.  Mine is pretty small right now and I feel as though I might shrivel up if something doesn't change soon.

Finally: What would be a dream vacation for you? 
Mere- Anywhere warm, with a beach. I love swimming in the ocean, and could do it for hours on end. It doesn't matter to me whether it's just Justin and I, or the whole extended family.

Justin- Somewhere with lots of cheap beer and maybe some of those belly dancers.  Not the ones of that fat male variety though.  But I like to go camping on lakes with a wakeboarding boat.

Krystie asked: If you could spend $500 in any store which one would you choose?
Ohhh! This one is hard for me because I can only buy clothes from stores that carry talls--Old Navy is usually my go-to, but I'm not sure that I'd want to spend $500 there. My first thought was Target for some fun home decor stuff, but on further thought, I'm thinking Lowe's or Home Depot--we could do a lot of fun mini-renovations with $500!

Also: Is there a place you would rather live then Oregon? if so, where would you move?
Nope, not for me. I lived in Washington for a year in college, but I love Southern Oregon. We're close to the mountains, lakes, rivers, snow, AND both of our entire families live here. We're only missing Kaitlin, Jesse, and Jaxon!

And: What is your dream date out with Justin ( and for Justin, dream date out with Mere)?
Mere- To be honest, I'm usually just happy to be on a date! However, we do usually tend to fall into the dinner and/or a movie rut. Actually, I'm not sure that we've EVER gone on a different sort of date out of the dinner/movie category. My dream date would be for Justin to plan something fun and different--whether a museum, play, fair, cooking class or even just going to the farmer's market. Also, included would be for us to get dressed up beyond our usual jeans and t-shirt combo.

Justin-  I like dinner and a movie.  Maybe we could switch it up a little and do dinner and bowling or dinner and putt putt golf and then a movie.  Or something

Mrs. Lukie asked: What is your middle name?
Mine is Linnea. Funny story though--for YEARS, my social security card said "Linned" because my dad's A's apparently look like D's. Ha! Justin's is Gilbert.  After the cabbage patch doll.  But mostly after his great grandpa Gil.

And: Any marriage advice for a couple expecting their first baby this year?
Mere-Oh, good question! Once you have a baby, it's easy for your whole marriage to revolve around your kid/kids. It makes sense--they're the center of your world at first! But I also think it's important to grow your marriage outside of your kids. For us, that has included playing co-ed softball together, attending Bible Study together, and going on dates (though the latter does not happen nearly often enough). I don't think it matters so much what you do, as long as you continue to facilitate a connection between you beyond just the baby.

Justin- Find out if you are a sleep walker/talker before the baby comes. 

Megan asked: In your opinion, what is the hardest part of being a SAHM? Do you ever think about going back to work?
In my opinion, the hardest part of being a SAHM is that I often feel more like a maid than a mom. I am sure this isn't intentional on Justin's behalf, but since I've started staying at home, he has not been great about helping around the house. I have been trying to cut him some slack because I know he's working long hours, but it drives me crazy when he doesn't at least do the basics like putting dishes in the sink or taking off his mud-crusted boots before coming inside. I can't tell you how many times I've come into the kitchen in the morning to find the dirty knife he used to make his peanut butter sandwich just laying on the counter...which then means that I have to clean the counter too, and to me, that feels disrespectful. I don't mean to complain about Justin, because he is usually wonderful (and he did finally clean the bathroom yesterday!)...but I just wish we would have had a few more discussions about our expectations for me staying at home before it happened.

As far as going back to work, I don't really imagine going back to my prior job. However, I would love to continue pursuing photography and to do that on a full-time or more consistent part-time basis.

And: Where do you hope to be in 5 years?
Mere-This is a hard question! Right now, there are two drastically different paths that I fluctuate between hoping for in the next five years. I'd be happy with either one of them. The first one is still living here, maybe with another kid or two, me working more heavily in photography, growing a huge garden, and saving to build our dream home.

The second thing that I hope for sometimes is that Justin's band gets picked up and that they have the chance to experience touring...I hope that Lizzy and I would get to go with him, see the world, and minister.

Justin- I'd like to have a vehicle that I can depend on.  I don't mind driving the old junker but it would just be nice to have one that works well and doesn't feel like its gonna break down at the most inopportune time.  Touring would be fun too.  I'd like to have a couple more kids and have my journeymen's  license.  Maybe a kegerator too.  This kinda feels like my dear Santa list.  And I want a pony, and a stick. 

And: What does your dream house look like?


And: For Justin: How did you know you wanted to marry Meredith?
I knew six months before we started dating.  And I had this gut feeling like she was a magnet pulling me.  She was all I could think about and I had never felt that way about anyone before.  There's an old saying:  For a man there are many ultimate things and just one ultimate woman and a man is a fool to not stop for that woman.  She is my ultimate woman.  She is the one that was made for me.  And even if I hadn't have moved to Oregon in high school I think we still might have met because she went to PLU in Tacoma which is where I'm from and I think we would have met somehow.

Lisa asked: Do you ever feel guilty about eating meat?
Mere-Only at Marzano's.

Justin- Lisa, I never feel bad about eating meat.  Come to think of it, if I couldn't eat meat then there wouldn't be any reason to eat. 

Mrs. Taylor asked: What does your perfect day look like?
Mere- My perfect day would occur in some tropical beach hotel, and would include sleeping in until at LEAST 8am, snuggling with Justin and Lizzy while eating breakfast in bed, spending the morning and afternoon swimming and playing on the beach, having a light and fresh lunch and then putting Lizzy down for a nap, spending the time while she's napping reading a book, then playing some more on the beach. We'd finish off the day with dinner for just Justin and I at some fancy restaurant with no budget--and preferably with Tom Colicchio himself as the chef. We'd be able to linger and have a few drinks before heading to bed (where Lizzy would once again sleep in until 8am).

Justin- Sleeping in and playing video games, drinking some beer, and maybe teaching Lizzy to wakeboard thrown in there some where.  Then after Tom Colicchio cooks us some great steaks with beer to match, we can head back to the room where we practice for more kids.

Alyssa asked: What was the Lizard's first word? 
I think it was probably "Bo" for our cat Bones. Justin maintains that "Bo" isn't the full word, so that doesn't count (in which case, it would probably either be Mama or Dada...she has babbled and talked a LOT from a very young age, so there wasn't a clear "first" in our eyes).

And: Justin-What is your first memory of you and Mer as a couple?
Riding on the spinning ride thing at the carnival in Orlando.  I asked her out on the ride right before it started going.  The ride was still boarding other passengers when I asked her.  And all you women say that men can't remember...pshaw

Andrea asked: If you had unlimited money for photography, what equipment would you buy?
I'm pretty content with the equipment that I have now, but in the future, I'd love to have a full-frame camera body (I won't feel comfortable shooting weddings until I have two camera bodies), a speedlite, a 28-75mm f/2.8 lens, and a 90 mm f/ 2.8 as a macro. Lightroom, and all kinds of accessories for shooting newborns...I haven't even had my first shoot yet, and I'm already addicted!

And, I've already answered the kids question, so: Any fears?
Yes. Eyeballs. I have a weird fear/paranoia about eyeballs. People getting near mine, watching people get near their own (like to put in contacts). In my high school Spanish class, we watched a movie called Un chien andalou, wherein a woman's eye gets slashed with a razor...and the teacher actually sent me out of the room because I was dry heaving and having such a cow. I probably need to go to the eye doctor really badly, but I seriously have to be sedated whenever I go, and the thought of it makes me want to toss my cookies. 

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

You Know You Want To...

This is the type of post that people either love or hate. But it's my blog, and I love this type of post, SO THERE. I hope that even if you don't love these posts as much as I do, that you'll play along.

Seriously though, I've noticed some new readers/commenters around these parts lately, and so I thought a little Q & A would be fun.

Yep, this is one of those infamous "Ask Me Anything" posts. Or ask Justin--he secretly loves to answer questions from you guys! But seriously, please just ask us things--about recipes, books, how we met, Insanity, parenting, photography, whatever!

Monday, April 4, 2011


-My brother is trying to grow a handlebar mustache. {Okay, as a side point, the package of fake mustaches spells it "moustache", but spellcheck keeps telling me that's not correct...} Anyway, he even puts wax in it, but it is so thin that it looks RIDICULOUS. It looks like cat whiskers opposed to a moustache/mustache. But he thinks it's totally cool, so of course we like to give him a hard time about it every so often. So, when we came across these fake mustaches, we knew it was time for an impromptu photo session.

- I had all kinds of interesting and insightful post ideas for today, but unfortunately, they have all gone out the window. I guess Lizzy is teething again, which has resulted in several days of fevers and just puniness. And no sleep. And whenever she doesn't feel well, she throws non-stop temper tantrums, complete with hitting, biting, and trying to gouge out my eyes. And lifting up her arms to have me pick her up and then thrashing around and wanting down as soon as I pick her up. And then getting mad that I put her down. Honestly, I am EXHAUSTED. In fact, I just put her in her crib for five minutes because I need a cup of coffee and a short break. I'm hoping she falls asleep, but that's doubtful.

-I think we're going to have to start over on month 2 of Insanity. First of all, month two of Insanity is like 60-70 minutes long instead of 40 minutes. In my world, it is MUCH harder to get up at 4:45am to work out than at 5:15 or 5:30am. And when I've slept maybe six hours total in the last two days? Not happening.

-In good news, my friend Emily had her baby, Josiah, early! I love knowing that just a few hours after she wrote that post, he was born! God is good!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Spring--New Every Morning


{Not too shabby for not having a macro lens, eh? Try using your super-zoom or telephoto!}

The past two days are the first time that it has felt like spring to me. Lizzy and I have been enjoying walks outside and playing on the playgrounds nearby. Every day, it seems like I see just a few more flowers in bloom, and it makes me look forward to summer just that much more.

This is the first year that I've really, REALLY spent time thinking and reflecting on spring in the context of Lent. In the last Beth Moore video that I watched on Wednesday, she mentioned the fact that not only had David committed adultery with Bathsheba, but he also had her husband murdered. I've heard the story of David and Bathsheba a number of times, but something just really clicked for me this time. See, that's some pretty dark stuff...mafia-type stuff. Way more dark than most of us will ever have to deal with in our lives. And yet, it STILL wasn't too dark and too bad for God to redeem. David turned to God and asked for forgiveness:

Create in me a clean heart O' God
And renew a right spirit within me
Cast me not away from thy presence
And take not thy Holy Spirit from me
Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation
And uphold me with thy free spirit (Psalm 51:10-12)

Sometimes I forget that David lived in the Old Testament times. I forget that David's forgiveness wasn't a given. But, David asked God, and he was washed white as snow. He was made completely new. And the forgiveness that David received wasn't the type of forgiveness that most of us experience in real life--it wasn't the 'Oh, I forgive you, but I'm going to bring it up every time we argue' variety. It was complete forgiveness. Washed white as snow.


During this season of Lent, I'm reminded that I was made new as well. I am washed white as snow, continuously. Through the incredible sacrifice of Christ, I have been forgiven. And not only have I been forgiven, but God sees me as being perfect. Even I don't see myself that way...but God does.

This isn't something that stays in the front of my mind every day, year-round. It's easy to forget. But this spring, as I'm watching new life appear every day, and meditating on Jesus' journey to the cross, it's in the forefront of my mind--as we lead into Easter, I can't stop thinking about how BLESSED I am that God's mercies are new every morning. What a GIFT to know that he gives forgiveness so readily and so freely! That he provides for me in ways beyond my imagination. Just like the flowers in the spring, I have the opportunity to come alive again, no matter how long my winter was...and for that, I am so, so grateful.


Nature is God's first missionary. Where there is no Bible there are sparkling stars. Where there are not preachers there are spring times...If a person has nothing but nature, then nature is enough to reveal something about God.
~Max Lucado
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