kohl’s trip

At the end of November, right after Thanksgiving, I received a message from Kohl’s inviting me to be part of a photo shoot for athletic and athleisure looks as part of a social media campaign.  Um, YES PLEASE.  Six weeks later, in mid January, I was flying to Milwaukee!  I was so excited and nervous going in to the trip – nervous about what to expect, how to “model”, being on video, etc.  It just felt like a very intimidating experience.  But I was also so excited for a getaway and a new opportunity!

Right after I arrived in Milwaukee I had dinner with some of the Kohl’s staff and met the two other women who would be part of the shoot.  It immediately helped put me at ease.  Everyone was friendly, funny, down to earth, and so kind.  I knew that even though the next day might feel a little weird, it would also be tons of fun.  And ohmygosh I didn’t even know how fun it would be!

The next morning we met in the lobby at 6:45am.  The film crew got us all set up with our mics – in addition to the photo shoot they’d be shooting the whole day to create short commercials – and we headed out to the studio!  The studio was unreal – just getting a glimpse at all the work that goes in to a one-day photo shoot.  They had a living room area set up for some of our chats, a changing room, another area where we’d look at the clothes with the stylist, another area for the photo shoot, hair and makeup, and a huge table full of delicious, homemade snacks (they changed regularly).  There were so. many. people.  Producers, directors, assistants, stylists, photographers, videographers, audio people… there were probably at least 35 people all moving around and taking care of small details and making everything perfect.  And yet everyone was also so incredibly sweet – chatting with us, offering us anything we needed, showing us pictures of their kids, telling us about themselves.  I could not get over how friendly everyone was.  It could have been such an intimidating and awkward experience and it quickly felt just FUN – like hanging out with friends.  I immediately knew I could trust everyone – that they only wanted to show me in the best possible way.  They wouldn’t try to make me look silly or dumb; they wanted me to be encouraged and to enjoy everything.  (Spoiler: they succeeded.  Big time.)

The whole day took about 11 hours – at the end they were in a big rush to try to get pictures before daylight disappeared.  Then everything was edited down and these two beauties were created!

I cannot say enough good things about the staff of Kohl’s and how generous and kind and sweet they were.  They are professional, creative, passionate, and smart.  I loved seeing the heart and authenticity of such a big brand.  I also can’t say enough good things about Rachael and Porsha!  They are funny, bright, motivated women.  I loved getting to hang out with them and we quickly became friends.  I was so excited to see them in their clothes and to cheer them on during their pictures.  I loved seeing them get pampered and knew how deserving they were of this experience.  I loved getting to talk and laugh with them in between things.  It’s been so great to keep in touch with them afterwards – I know we’ll stay friends (and Rachael will also continue to impress the heck out of me with her insane moves of the day – girl is strong).  

At the end of our shoot we got to take home two complete outfits and I am loving what I chose!  It’s been an awesome revamp to my wardrobe.  And Maggie’s suggestions to us really helped me to look at my closet from a new perspective, which has also been super helpful!

So that was my once in a lifetime experience.  It was amazing.  Thank you, Kohl’s!


maple holistics

Recently Maple Holistics asked if they could send me something to try.  I chose the Hand Cream for Dry Skin because my hands are awful in the winter – they crack and bleed and generally feel like sandpaper. I’ve had a really hard time finding a lotion that makes any difference, especially one that’s made with quality ingredients.  I’ve tried straight shea butter and bag balm, which haven’t helped and are really greasy.


I really like this hand cream.  A lot.  It smells awesome (seriously so good – I think it’s the geranium and lavender) and it’s really thick and moisturizing without being greasy.  It soaks in fast (or at least my dry hands suck it up) and feels great.  It definitely has helped my skin – my skin looks more even and less rough and dry – but I’ve still had some cracking and bleeding on my fingertips.  However, I feel like they’ve cracked and bled less, so that’s something still!  The one drawback is the price – at $45 it’s a pretty expensive tube of lotion, at least for me.  And I’ve used it a lot, which means that it’s disappeared fast, too.

If you’re interested in a trying a free sample product from Maple Holistics, click here!

Do you have problems with dry skin?  What’s your best recommendation?  

Disclaimer: I was provided with a free product in return for my honest review.  All thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own and not influenced by the developing company and/or its affiliates in any way.


politics and podcasts

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been greatly discouraged and unsettled by recent current events in the political arena.  It’s not often that I’ll speak of politics here and I really only want to talk about it on a public forum when I feel like it’s useful and contributing in a positive way to the crushing mass of voices out there.  I’m not going to get into the nitty gritty of all my thoughts or all the many ways I disagree with President Trump but I will say this: I recently found two podcasts that have provided positive and informative (and entertaining) perspective, which I very much appreciate.  I haven’t listened to all these have to offer, but I’m excited to dig into them.

Pantsuit Politics: Two women – one conservative, one liberal – discuss various issues and current events in the political landscape.  I love that I’m hearing both sides of an issue, but in a non-aggressive way.  They’re not angry, they’re not one-upping, they’re not fear-mongering or attacking.  It’s facts and dialogue and information and it’s modeling a productive way for us to talk and listen to each other.  It’s also helping me to hear about issues outside the scope of media coverage.  I love it.

Presidential: Journalist Lillian Cunningham dedicates one episode to each of our 45 presidents.  I’ve only listened to one of these so far – Donald Trump – but it was so well done.  She speaks with researchers, threads how the past informs the present, and overall affirmed that America is really resilient and has survived tumultuous and controversial presidents in the past.  I’m really excited to go back through and listen to each one of these!  It’s not just a history lesson on each president, but also looking at their character traits, their personal lives, etc.

I’m feeling more than ever that it’s important for me to be an informed and passionate citizen, and I’m grateful for how these podcasts might serve to educate and provide perspective.  Check them out!


monday things

A few random things to share this Monday:

  • I’ve been loving this workout when I need a running break but still want to move.  The instructor isn’t annoying at all which is a huge perk.
  • Two soups we’ve liked recently:vegan sweet potato chowder and roasted brussel sprouts and cauliflower soup.  Both were so delicious and immediately got moved to my “eat again” pinboard.
  • I ran 9 miles on Saturday which I think is the most I’ve run since the marathon in November.  February 13 kicks off ultra training, so I’m gearing myself up for even earlier mornings and longer miles.  I’m both ready to get into it and glad I still have a few more weeks.
  • A couple weeks ago I said I needed to fix something and Molly walked over, opened the kitchen drawer, got out a screwdriver, and handed it to me.  At 18 months old.  She’s crazy aware of what’s going on and also prone to tantrums right now.  But in between just wants eye contact, hugs, and to be wrestled.
  • Dave and I have decided what animal each of our kids remind us of: Leo is a dog – he likes to play but also to relax and be alone.  He’s social but needs time to just chill.  Katie is a cat – she likes affection on her terms, she sleeps hard and long, she can be moody but also so charming.  Molly is a puppy – social and just wants to play and be around people and get into things.  Do any of your kids remind you of animals?
running · running total · Uncategorized


I started 2017 with 7 miles.  I took a couple days off at the end of 2016 for a tight groin muscle, but wanted to start 2017 running.  I’m glad I did.  The morning was cold and dark and quiet and I had the streets and lingering Christmas lights all to myself.

I don’t know how many miles I ran in 2016.  I started logging miles, took a break, logged some more, then forgot again.  I ran 2 marathons and PRed both, which was unexpected and so exciting.  I learned to run in the cold and actually enjoy it.  I logged miles with friends and plenty alone.  I ran circles around the pond and up and down the main streets.  I got faster, slower, faster again.  I found more of myself in the steady drum of my feet, cleared my head, worked out emotions, rehashed conversations, made mental notes, prayed, cried, and recited scraps of poetry.  I created mantras and then never spoke them.  I wondered what would be next, worried about what would be next, pushed after what was next.  I wore out shoes and recharged my Garmin, I chafed and blistered and lost a toenail (maybe forever).  I grew leaner, stronger.  I remembered what I loved in running, in myself.

I’ve been pregnant or nursing for some, if not most, of every year since 2011.  This will be my first year back just me and I’m really excited to see what I can do, what else will wake up inside of me.  Some thoughts:

  • This 50K in June with Kimberly.  It’s really cheap and doing an ultra (or more) has been a goal of mine since 2010.  Starting with a 50K would be a great way to test the waters and really doable from a training perspective.
  • My tenth marathon.  Not sure if I’ll go big (something like Chicago or Cleveland or Indianapolis or Grand Rapids) or small and scenic, like Presque Isle.
  • PR the half marathon.  My current half marathon PR is from May of 2010, so I’d like to go after a new one.
  • Keep running for fun and for me.  It’s easy for me to sometimes get lost in the “should” of running – I’m training for a race or to keep weight off – but when it comes down to it I run because I love it and because it makes me more me.

I’d love to do some strength training and yoga in there, too, but I’m not certain enough that I’ll really do it to make it an official goal.  But maybe!



to kimberly


Kimberly and I met way back in 2011, when we were both pregnant with our boys and I ambushed her on a Fort Wayne street corner wearing the exact same maternity dress.  Stalker much?  I knew her (I followed her blog) but she didn’t know me before then.  We started becoming friends – I’m not even sure how exactly?  I think it grew pretty organically and now she is one of my best friends!  We’ve roadtripped to Chicago/Wisconsin for a race and to Ohio for a Mother Runner party.  We’ve run together, raced together, done a terrible mud run together, and sent many texts and voxes commiserating lack of sleep, overactive or sick children, and so much more.  We’ve gone together to the Santa Train in Fort Wayne the past three years and met up at parks and picnicked out of the back of our vans in hopes that our children will play and let us talk just a little.  She is sassy and funny, determined and brave, and the most generous person I know.  She sets audacious goals and chases them down relentlessly, from running PRs to personal development to job changes.  She’s a runner, a mom to 2 boys, a writer, a wife, a youth director, a personal trainer, a workout instructor, a friend, a sister, a weight loss hero (over 100+ because she’s badass), a marathoner, and so much more.  I just can’t say how much I adore her and admire her and love her!

Do you know Kimberly?  (If you don’t – GO FOLLOW HER on her blog, instagram, and facebook!)


advent calendar

This is the Advent pocket calendar I grew up with:


My aunt and my mom would fill it with little gifts in each pocket and we opened one a day – candy, coins, bracelets, little toys, etc.  It was one of my favorite things.  Last year my mom offered me the calendar and I was SO excited to do this with Leo and Katie and Molly.  I decided to do a mix of gifts and activities – partly because finding 25 small gifts that a 17 month old all the way to a 5 year old would like felt really daunting (and honestly I don’t always have a gift for Molly right now because she’s little).  Here’s what I came up with.

  1. nativity sticker sets
  2. snowmen window clings
  3. paint Christmas pictures (we printed out a whole bunch of Christmas scene pages from various websites)
  4. pennies
  5. The Beginner’s Bible and The Biggest Story (thanks, Black Friday super sale Christianbooks.com!)
  6. Christmas socks
  7. Christmas coloring books
  8. take a glow stick bath
  9. nickels
  10. ride the Santa train
  11. little books about sharing/good attitude/etc. (hey, Christianbooks.com)
  12. having our friend over for pie
  13. Christmas stickers
  14. book and Christmas story dvds (again, Christianbooks.com…)
  15. dimes
  16. watch a Christmas movie together
  17. decorate Christmas cookies
  18. take cookies to grandma and grandpa
  19. write letters to Santa (we actually don’t really do Santa but the library has a mailbox and I thought Leo would enjoy making a list and putting it in the box)
  20. Christmas art stencils
  21. make gingerbread houses
  22. quarters
  23. Christmas light walk downtown
  24. read nativity story

We’re about a week in and the kids have been LOVING it.  They are so excited to open the pocket each morning.  I put little slips of paper in them – if it’s a gift I put them under the tree before the kids get up so they open the pocket and have a note telling them to go find a present under the tree.  Ideally I would have had smaller gifts that could fit in the pocket, but I just didn’t find much in that arena (and Molly still puts small things in her mouth).  I’ve tried to keep it pretty simple so that it’s exciting and fun for them, but doesn’t require more effort/time/money than Dave and I can realistically give.  I’m really looking forward to doing this every year!