About Me
Name: Lauren         Location: Middle Tennessee, USA

Welcome to my blog! I am a Christian, wife, and mother who enjoys reading, running, and all things Disney. Stop by regularly for a glimpse into my life!
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Wednesday, April 28, 2010
My New Running Toy
As a reward for finishing my Couch to 5K and running in my first 5K race, I bought myself a little reward. I wanted this for a while, but I wanted to be sure I was going to stick with running before purchasing it with my birthday money. This is a Garmin Forerunner 305.

The Garmin tracks distance using satellites, so I never have to drive around and measure a route for a run. It also tracks pace per mile, calories, heart rate, and other things I haven't figured out. One feature that I am especially excited to use is the interval alert.

I recently read about the interval training plans of Jeff Galloway, a former Olympic runner. He advocates short walk breaks during runs. He believes that this helps the body recover during runs, which can actually speed up your time because you feel stronger after a short break. He suggests intervals (like 4 min run:1 min walk) based on your pace per mile. I tried this out, and I couldn't believe that I finished 3 miles faster using intervals than when I ran the entire distance. I also felt much better with the short breaks. Although I am glad I met my goal of running 3 miles without stopping, I think the interval system will suit me better for longer distances (especially in training for the Disney Princess Half-Marathon). My Garmin watch will beep and let me know when it's time to run and walk.

My plan is to do another 5K in June and a 10K Labor Day weekend. I truly can't believe I enjoy running. If you had told me 6 months ago that I would be training to complete a half-marathon in 2011, I would have thought you were crazy. Yet, here I am, and I am ready to run!


  posted at 7:38 AM  

Tuesday, April 27, 2010
What's On My Nightstand
Once again, it's time for the monthly Nightstand carnival at 5 Minutes for Books. I am currently reading Bringing Up Girls and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

Other books on my nightstand include:

Once in a Blue Moon by Leanna Ellis
Between Two Worlds by Roxana Saberi
My Name Is Mary Sutter by Robin Oliveira
Here Burns My Candle by Liz Curtis Higgs
Galloway's Book on Running by Jeff Galloway
Born to Run by Christopher McDougall

Be sure to visit 5 Minutes for Books to see the lists of other participants!


  posted at 7:43 AM  

Saturday, April 24, 2010
Country Music Kids' Marathon
For the third year in a row, my Favorite Boy participated in the Country Music Kids' Marathon. Before the night of the race, the kids must run 25.2 miles. On the night of the event, they run the final mile. This is always a fun night for our family, and we always run into lots of friends. We were excited that Papa and Grammy were able to come as well. Papa has made it to the race all three years (once from CA, once from OH, and this year from their new home in TN). Grammy has made it for the last two. It was fun having them with us.

We decided to grab dinner on the way into downtown Nashville. We let my Best Girl choose the restaurant because she won our family's NCAA tournament bracket contest (it was a good year for winning the contest based on pure luck). My Best Girl decided on IHOP. Neither of my kids had ever eaten there before, but they are big pancake fans. I guess my Favorite Boy could say he carb-loaded before the big race.

We left IHOP and ended up in horrible traffic. I don't know what happened last night, but every interstate and back road was moving at a snail's pace. Although we left in plenty of time, we barely got to the stadium in time for my Favorite Boy to line up. The second grade boys from his school were at the front of the pack, so I was able to get some pictures right at the starting line.

My Best Girl was ready to cheer. She remembered that Papa had held her on his shoulders at previous races, but unfortunately for Papa, she has grown a lot in the last two years! (I wish I could link to the previous races, but I haven't gotten that far in my blog recovery process.)

And they're off!

Medal time! My Favorite Boy was excited that he ran the whole mile without walking. We missed having Jeff Fisher at the finish line this year (he was at the NFL draft). We heard Eddie George was there, but we didn't see him.

We had a great evening, and I am proud of my Favorite Boy for finishing the race. All my Best Girl cared about was getting one of the balloons at the event, and I am glad to say that she left happy as well.

Next year, my Best Girl will be old enough to participate. I told her that I will run with her if she wants to do it. I am glad that I can volunteer now. Before my recent running experiences, I would have let Dad fill that role. I guess 2011 will truly be an experience for the whole family!


  posted at 1:02 PM  

Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Kid Picks - April
It's time for the Kid Picks Carnival at 5 Minutes for Books. This carnival encourages participants to share the books that their kids are reading.

My Favorite Boy has been re-reading books 1-3 in the Harry Potter series. I think he is enjoying them even more the second time. Yesterday, I asked him about lunch at school, and he said he didn't know what happened at lunch because he was reading the whole time (and he even sat by girls; he must have been engrossed in his book). He desperately wants to read Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, but I won't let him until I read it first. He's waiting (not-so-patiently) for me to do this.

My Best Girl is reading books from the Ready-to-Read series right now; but together, My Best Girl and I are enjoying Toy Dance Party (thanks for the recommendation, Jennifer). My Best Girl was laughing out loud last night as we read before bed. I highly recommend the adventures of the buffalo named Lumphy, a plush toy named Sting-Ray, and a ball named Plastic. The first book about these characters is called Toys Go Out, and I highly recommend it as well.

These are the books that the Baseballs and Bows kids are reading. To find out about other great Kid Picks, head over to 5 Minutes for Books!


  posted at 7:53 AM  

Saturday, April 17, 2010
I reached a running goal today! This morning, I participated in my first 5K race. The few times in my life that I have run 3 miles, I finished in about 35 minutes. My time this morning was 33:29, so I was very pleased.

My husband wanted to be supportive, so he signed up to run as well. Since he has been running for years, I talked him into running the 10K. For his first formal race, he didn't do too badly. He finished third! I had to kid him about upstaging me when he was there to be supportive. :)

Grandma and Papa Don came up to watch the kids during the race. It was fun to see them all standing at the finish line, and we really appreciated their help.

Race Tidbits:
-The race started at a local high school. This was great because there were real bathrooms. I know if I continue to participate in races that I will have to use a Port-a-Potty. I was glad I didn't have to do that today.
-I got a Spibelt to hold my camera, keys, etc... It is very well designed, and I couldn't even tell I was wearing it. This will be handy during training and races.
-I can't drink and run. I really wanted to run without stopping today, so I tried to grab a cup of water as I moved. I only got a sip before tossing the cup. From now on I will walk through water stations and actually swallow the water without spilling it on myself (thanks for this advice, Rachel).
-I need to find some running buddies. I am fine training alone, but the races would be a lot more fun with a friend (it was great waiting with my hubby before the race, but I ran alone).
-And finally, I looked even worse than I thought at the end of the race, so cut me some slack when you see the pictures. :)


  posted at 3:22 PM  

Wednesday, April 14, 2010
She's Got It Now!
My Best Girl has worked on her bike riding skills sporadically since last fall (our winter was much colder than usual, so there wasn't much opportunity to practice). I can now say that she is an official bike rider! She can start and stop by herself, and everything in between is smooth sailing. I spent countless hours on my bike as a child, so I am so happy for her to reach this milestone.

I do realize that she is not wearing a helmet. I was sick, and the fact that I got off the couch long enough to let her ride her bike and take pictures was an accomplishment. I'll try to be less negligent next time. Also, the marks on her face are not bruises, she just had a little too much fun with her make-up. She hasn't yet learned the art of subtlety. Why shouldn't she mix pink blush and purple eyeshadow on her cheek?


  posted at 2:17 PM  

Monday, April 12, 2010
Counting Down
Spring break is over, and I just took my Favorite Boy to school. He doesn't dislike school, but he certainly prefers being home. Although he didn't want to get back to work, he comforted himself with the fact that he only has six more weeks until summer break. I can't believe it! At the end of the school year, he will be halfway through elementary school. It doesn't seem possible.

Other than the Philadelphia trip at the beginning of break, we had a relaxing week. The weather was beautiful, so we spent several days at the park. One day, the kids did have to go to the dentist, which my Favorite Boy thought was unfair. He feels that if he has to go to the dentist, he should get to miss school for it. I could see his point, so I told him I would try to do better next time.

Now it's time to get back to business. My agenda for the week is to clean the house! I am a little under the weather (bronchitis/sinus problems). I started a Z-pack last night, so I hope to feel better soon. Our house needs major work!

I hope you are enjoying spring where you are!

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  posted at 8:28 AM  

Wednesday, April 7, 2010
I am excited to say that I graduated from the Couch to 5K program! Yesterday, I ran 3 miles in 34:55. Yes, that's pretty slow, but since I don't think I have ever run three miles without stopping, I am pretty excited!

As much as I enjoyed last night's run, the best part came later. I often tell my Best Girl stories, and I start by saying, "Once there was a sweet little girl with blonde hair and pretty blue eyes..." Last night she said, "Mom, I want to tell you a story: Once, there was a mom with pretty blue eyes. She ran and ran. She got better and better, and she never gave up. She's awesome. The end."

That little story was worth all the hard work, the shin splints and the other forms of pain that I have dealt with over the past nine weeks!

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  posted at 7:44 AM  

Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Fireworks Over Toccoa: Discussion Questions
If you would like to read my review of Fireworks Over Toccoa, click HERE.

***This post is part of a 5 Minutes for Books discussion group, and it will contain SPOILERS.***

In my review, I mentioned that I think this will be a popular book: it is easy to read, fast-paced, and includes a whirlwind romance. Unfortunately, I felt like I was watching a train wreck, and I spent much of the story disliking the two main characters. I'll try to explain my feelings in my answers.

Many of the characters in the novel deal with regret and/or loss. How did these themes affect the characters? How did it affect their decisions? With whom could you relate as they struggled through these emotions?

The one aspect of Lily's character that I appreciated was that she used her experiences to guide her granddaughter. Everyone makes mistakes and has regrets (I classify her relationship with Jake as a mistake although I don't know that Lily would), and I believe that we can make a difference in the lives of others by sharing what we have learned from our mistakes. I'm not really sure that any granddaughter would want to know some of the explicit details shared in this book, but Lily's willingness to share her life story was admirable.

Do you think duty is ever more important than love?

Love has several meanings in the English language. True love, the self-sacrificing love that puts others needs before our own, is intertwined with duty. Lily's duty to her husband was absolutely more important that the physical attraction she felt toward Jake. When you make the commitment to marry someone, you make the marriage work, even when something that seems better comes along.

How would you describe the love between Jake and Lily? Was it genuine? Born of fear or loneliness? Could it have survived the intricacies of "real life," or could it only have existed in the tiny pocket of time outside of reality that they had?

The part of the story that irritated me the most was the idea that Lily and Jake's "love" was so powerful and strong that they had no choice but to be together. Lily and Jake may have had a powerful physical attraction, they may have had similar feelings of loneliness, and they may have connected on some kind of artistic level, but they didn't know each other well enough to truly love each other, and they certainly had plenty of opportunities to do the right thing.

I kept talking to Lily in my head: go get in your car, don't sit down and eat with him, don't go back and ask him to go on a picnic. She was just looking for trouble, and like a mother, I wanted to straighten her out!

Jake was no better. Even though he didn't know Paul personally, they were fellow soldiers, and he had no problem stealing Paul's wife days before his return. Lily saw Jake as a wonderful man, but he was certainly not a man of integrity. If he truly loved Lily, he would have refused to participate in the destruction of her life.

Would their relationship have lasted? No relationship can be that intense all the time. They would have realized each others faults and weaknesses. You can't live in fireworks mode forever. It's possible they would have stayed together, but anytime a relationship begins by breaking up another relationship, I wonder whether the new relationship will be a permanent one.

What personal connection, if any, did you have with this novel?: the place (Toccoa, Georgia), the World War II setting, influential families in small towns, military deployment, the loss of a child or sibling, temptation in marriage?

Obviously, I had some issues with the characters and their actions. The one aspect of this book that I enjoyed immensely was the southern setting. Mr. Stepakoff did an excellent job bringing a small southern town to life. Ice cold Cokes are a part of life around here, Honey's character jumped right off the page (I could picture her so easily through the lives of southern women I have known), and I loved the southern conversations (we southern ladies do "glisten" you know).

Well, there you have some of my highly opinionated thoughts. To participate in this discussion, be sure to check out the other posts at 5 Minutes for Books!


  posted at 9:15 PM  

Book Review: Fireworks Over Toccoa
Lily Davis Woodward should be excited. In a few short days, her husband will return to Toccoa, Georgia. After serving in WWII for three years, Paul and the other local boys are on their way home. Unfortunately, Lily doesn't know how to feel. She married Paul at the young age of seventeen because it seemed like the right thing to do (and because her high society parents approved), but now she wonders who she is and what it will be like to live with a man she barely knows.

Then she meets Jake, a former soldier and fireworks expert visiting Toccoa to set up the Fourth of July fireworks celebration. What starts as a chance meeting turns into a whirlwind romance, and Lily's life is turned upside down. She is forced to decide between duty and emotion; and no matter what she chooses, her life will never be the same.

Fireworks Over Toccoa, by Jeffrey Stepakoff, tells Lily's story in a way that will have fans of books like The Notebook and The Bridges of Madison County quickly turning pages as they devour the story. It is a book that will evoke strong emotions, no matter how you feel about the outcome. I believe that many people will be reading and talking about this story (and I bet movie producers are already taking notice)!

I will warn that there are several intimate pages in this story (I skipped them), and there were issues that fired me up a bit. I will save these for my discussion post because I don't want to spoil the story. Be sure to check out other reviews of Fireworks Over Toccoa at 5 Minutes for Books.


  posted at 9:14 PM  

My husband travels a lot. Although we would rather have him home, we do enjoy the perks of his travel: free flights and free hotel stays. This past weekend, the two of us traveled to Philadelphia for the weekend. We hadn't been anywhere by ourselves (other than me tagging along on a couple of his work trips), since my Favorite Boy was two (he's now eight). So, we dropped the kids off at Grammy and Papa's house on Thursday night and headed out early Friday morning.

We spent Friday night at the Phillies/Pirates exhibition game. The game was exciting and the weather was perfect (it was wonderful the entire weekend). We saw a couple of homeruns and enjoyed hot dogs and a funnel cake. It was a fun evening!

We woke up Saturday morning and headed to Lancaster County to visit Amish Country. After all the Amish fiction books I have read, I really enjoyed seeing the farms and homes first hand. We spent the day touring Amish farmlands, including a visit to an Amish homestead. I couldn't help but smile when I saw one of the boys shooting basketball in the driveway. He had on pants and suspenders, and he's probably never seen a basketball game on television, but it just reminded me how much kids are the same. I am sure he and my Favorite Boy could have enjoyed a game together! (As much as I wanted to, I didn't take a picture of any of the people because they don't like having their pictures taken.) I was amazed by all the clotheslines. The one in this picture is tiny compared to some that went from the houses to the tops of huge barns (several stories high). I can't imagine keeping up with all that laundry!

On Sunday afternoon, we visited the historic sites. It was so neat to see Independence Hall and imagine the founding fathers drafting the Bill of Rights and the Constitution. We also saw the Liberty Bell.

Okay, I had to do it. We walked over to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, just so I could climb the steps. I am the red spot on the top of the stairs in the second photo. I guess I should have raised my arms in triumph, but I didn't. I wonder how many hundreds of people run up those stairs each day with Rocky in mind?

Monday morning, we headed to the U.S. Mint and the Reading Terminal Market. Photography is not allowed inside the Mint, so I left my camera at the hotel. The market was fun, and there was lots of good food, but we were disappointed that the Amish vendors are only there Wednesday through Friday. We were hoping to take home some baked goods!

All in all, we enjoyed having time together, and we enjoyed the sights, but Philadelphia wasn't one of our favorite places. Although the outlying areas are pretty, the city itself seems a bit dirtier than other cities I have visited. I am glad we went and glad we're home. Now I plan to enjoy the rest of spring break with my kiddos!


  posted at 9:24 AM  

Thursday, April 1, 2010
Easter Fun
Our weather is absolutely perfect! My Best Girl enjoyed the sunshine at her preschool Easter party today. The kids had treats at lunch and then enjoyed the egg hunt and games.

I hope everyone has a wonderful Easter weekend!


  posted at 2:47 PM  

Previous Posts
  • A Disney December, The Final Chapter
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