Life

Happy Spring & An Overdue Update

Hey friends!

It's been awhile, huh?!

Well, it sure feels good to be here -- back on my blog! It's been more than 2 years since I wrote here regularly. I miss it! I miss you! How the heck of have you been?

Spring is in full bloom around DC and I've declared this my new favorite time of year. Spring not only reminds me of our garden wedding, which took place on a warm and sunny day just like the ones we've been having, but it also marks a turning point our family. It was around this time last year when we started to transition out of a really tough chapter -- our son's early arrival, a harrowing hospital stay and then winter "in isolation" per doctor's orders.

We received the OK to take JR off daytime oxygen last May, and it was like the world opened up to us. The weather was warm and we were able to take JR outside without the hassle of an oxygen tank and long cords! I'll never forget the first walk we took -- that same day I threw some shades on him and ran errands all over town, totally embracing the new-found freedom.

We've had so many beautiful memories since then, too -- I compiled a post awhile back (best of 2016), which I hope to share at some point. I summarized all the big "firsts" like our first family vacation, first playdate, JR's first birthday celebration and our first family halloween costume -- all of which have brought about tremendous healing from a tumultuous 2015.

Family Easter Session 18

Needless to say it's been a great year, but holy moly, it's been busy too!

When JR came home from the hospital, there wasn't an army of doctors and nurses to look after him: just me and Aaron! It was all consuming, as most kids are and it's taken every bit of the last year and a half to adjust to being a full-time mom.

There was a time - there for awhile - I didn't recognize myself at all. Even after JR came home from the hospital, it was like I was living in some strange place. I was in the wrong neighborhood with the wrong career, in some awful body, and had married the wrong guy (haha, thankfully all not true). It just felt like my world was turned upside down and there was this drastic difference between the "old me" and "new me," and I didn't know this "new me" at all... I was just a mom - that's it! - and that was enough for awhile there.

We had to survive. We had to thrive. We had to get through this! I put everything into THAT and there wasn't room left for anything else.

It took at least a year to finally feel some of that fog and confusion lift. There was a big "ah ha" moment in therapy when Aaron and me realized we didn't have to live our old life -- we couldn't and we didn't have to feel bad about that. We were new and that was understandable. That was OK. We'd been through a lot. We'd changed and we needed to accept that.

Slowly, eventually we'd start to feel more like ourselves. Slowly, eventually managing JR's care would get easier or at least, we'd get more used to it. Slowly, eventually, the old and new would mesh and perhaps, something better would evolve.

That doesn't happen by chance though, guys! It's been real work to get there and, honest moment, I STILL don't feel like I'm 100 percent there. (Will I ever? Probably not!) That said, we've made tremendous strides this year. Little by little, I've squeezed in more of the stuff I used to love like cooking, working out and writing. I've made a lot of adjustments to our day-to-day to try to find balance. I transitioned jobs earlier this year to help with this: eliminating a long commute and a lot of work stress. I also started counseling (mentioned above) and finally broke down and asked my mom and in-laws for help with day-time coverage (JR can't do daycare).

And... well, guess what? I'm so proud of where we are today.

The baby steps are working. The smallest victories are big. And best of all, I feel good about me. The NEW me.

So, here I am. :)

Family Easter Session 6

Blonde.

Yes, I'm blonde now. Haha. :)

This may have something to do with the whole identity crisis I mentioned above, but the way I see it: this is part of those baby steps -- this is me taking time to go to a hair salon (alone) and spend a few hours reading and getting pampered, which is so good for my soul! After months of isolation, putting a little time and effort into my appearance has been a real confidence booster. I still have a long way (with regard to confidence in my appearance!) but it's a step in the right direction.

You might notice Aaron's changed some too! He's really thrown himself into CrossFit and I'm honestly floored you guys. He's gotten SO strong and fast and competitive! It's not unusual for someone to comment on "his arms" -- which can drives me nuts (don't egg him on!) but deep down I'm really proud of him because I know his commitment to CrossFit and his other outlets have been a big part of his healing and recovery from everything we went through. Also because he goes to CrossFit at 5:30 AM! I can't even. I don't know how he does it!

Anyway, Aaron and I were were so lucky to get to catch up with Katie Nesbitt over Easter. Katie took our CrossFit date night images a few years back - the majority of which you also see on the blog homepage! (I love her work!) We were in Williamsburg for the weekend and met up with her at Sandy Bottom, a beautiful scenic park overlooking the water for a little fun with JR.

If you can't tell from the photos, Aaron has a real way with him; he's so good at making him laugh!

Family Easter Session 3Family Easter Session 11 Family Easter Session 11Family Easter Session 1Family Easter Session 2Family Easter Session 17 Family Easter Session 18

I have so much to share about JR.

SO, SO much.

But, I didn't want to wait to get back to blogging to share his story because, well, if I did, I'd probably never get back here. I started writing it the day he was born and as you can imagine, I've been editing and refining it as we go -- adding to it every day -- always amazed; always in awe of him.

Family Easter Session 16

Thank you for stopping by and sharing in these lovely photos and reading about these last two years of big transition and change.

This is only the beginning friends - I'm back! Or at least, I plan to be. I have a lot more to share, including JR's birth story and his health today. I have a special "be strong mom" project I hope to blog/launch soon as well as a new series: getting fit again, bit by bit starting this Friday!

Did I mention we're getting back to the root of this blog with weekly fit couple features? Yay!

I hope you'll stop back by!

In the meantime, leave a comment below and tell me about you!

Are you a new mom?

Did you struggle with a similar identity struggle?

--

Images from Katie Nesbitt Photography

We're having a ...

output_WB8nO0

>>> BOY! <<<

SONY DSCSONY DSC

We popped two balloons because we figured, hey, photo ops!

Plus, it was a good thing because when the first balloon popped nobody knew whether it was a boy or girl! The confetti was pretty small and there were a lot of yellow specks -- yellow usually means neutral! Of course, I looked down, saw light blue and yellow and knew, DUH! BOY! Obviously pink is the only color that indicates girl so I knew right away. You can see my reaction on Instagram.

Last week I also got this really strong feeling that I was having a boy. It was after a workout, as I was headed to my car, I thought to myself, me and my little man just got our workout on! And I just knew. It's a boy. I thought it might be a boy earlier in the pregnancy but last week I knew it was. There was no convincing me otherwise. Crazy that I know there's such thing as a motherly instinct now, too!

The second balloon burst into blue glitter and we all knew! I also love Aaron's face in the photos from that one. What a great time!!!

SONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSC

So, what's my reaction? I think my smile in the photo below about sums it up!

2015-05-09_0016

I'm thrilled!

I can't wait to meet my mini Aaron!!!!!

A full recap of our gender reveal party is coming up later!

Where you team blue or pink? 

Do you have a preference for yourself, boy or girl? 

Second Trimester Recap: Weeks 18 & 19

Hey friends! Happy Friday! I'm super excited today because we find out whether we're having a boy or girl TOMORROW! Eek! We have a brunch planned with a bunch of our friends and will either cut a cake or pop balloons to find out the sex. I'm so, so excited! I'll probably go to bed early tonight just so that tomorrow gets here sooner! :)

Since I'll recap that event for you  Monday I figured I might as well go ahead and share a recap of weeks 18 & 19. I seriously cannot believe I'm 20 weeks already. Halfway there!

FullSizeRender (1)

CRAVINGS

I'm on an ice coffee kick - I love iced americano from Starbucks with a splash of half and half. I also like the Dunkin Donuts hazelnut swirl (but just one pump; 3 is too many)! Don't worry, though, I usually get decaf because too much caffeine is a no-no!

I'm also on an easy mac kick, it's so weird! Recently craved a burger, Chipotle and Sweetgreen. I LOVE SWEETGREEN! The harvest bowl is my favorite salad, ever! Yum! I just have them hold the goat cheese.

AVERSIONS

None really! Yay!

OTHER SYMPTOMS

Lots of peeing: it feels like more often than ever before!

I have heartburn: Ugh! I've never had it before but now that I do, I totally get why it drives people crazy - it sucks!

I've had some round ligament pain:  I was so relieved to find the actual name for the tugs and aches I was feeling in my lower belly; they were making me nervous! However I read that this is completely normal - it's your body making room for your "enlarging uterus." Oh fun! Haha.

Frequent headaches: Unfortunately there's been a few really bad headaches lately...

Tiredness (again): I feel more energized than I did during the first trimester but I still take naps! In fact, I took one both Saturday and Sunday after busy mornings. I'm beginning to realize how vital rest is during this process. If my body tells me to slow down, I don't hesitate.

My belly popped! I had to go on an emergency run for maternity clothes last night because I am literally out of pants. I resorted to dresses the first half of the week, which were nice, but I hardly recognize myself guys! I'm officially SHOWING. [Insert shocked face!]

FullSizeRender

EXERCISE 

Still hard.

CrossFit_Wk18_1

See! It's super hard.

Part A: Press (6 sets, performing one set every 2 minutes)

Part B: 1500 m Row buy-in, then: 3 Rounds of: 5 Deadlift (275/195) 10 Chest-to-Bar Pullups

I swapped ring rows for pull-ups and scaled the weight for deadlifts to 145 lbs.

CrossFit_Wk18

Every 90 seconds for 18 minutes (12 sets*) of: 1 Clean 2 Jerks

*Start at 50% and work to 85-90% for final four sets.

I loved this workout! It wasn't as physically exhausting as other workouts I've done lately and the best part: I felt strong! I worked up to 110 lbs, which felt GREAT to throw up! (But shhh... don't tell anyone! My mom would freak if she knew I lifted 100+ lbs while pregnant!)

WHAT ELSE IS NEW:

I finally told my boss I'm pregnant! I've been nervous about sharing the news with my job because I'm still fairly new (in fact, I just passed the 90-day probationary period). However, I was very pleasantly surprised to receive a lot of positive feedback from her and everyone else I work with. I also learned that my employer is a lot more flexible with maternity leave than I originally thought so that's a huge relief.

I was rockin' an undercover bump for AWHILE. It's so nice to not have to hide it anymore!

IMG_8262

We had our anatomy scan! We were on cloud nine after our anatomy scan. There's nothing like seeing glimpses of your growing baby! What a relief to count five fingers and toes and see and hear the heartbeat -- it's simply amazing!

We totally felt like our little one was showing off, too. We saw lots of fist pumps and Aaron swore he saw some squats! We also got a little flex from him or her (4th photo below)! Of course, I had the technician print them all!

Anatomy Scan

Anatomy Scan

Anatomy Scan

One of my friends who I shared this photo with responded, #babyguns! Yes, indeed!

GRATEFUL THIS WEEK:

For the devotionals that Aaron's mom gave me. I love them! They have weekly prayers that go along with the development of the baby and the Waiting in Wonder book had me crying within the first chapter! They make for great evening reading. They help me relax and ease a lot of the regular pregnancy worries.

SONY DSC

COMING UP

Our gender reveal party - tomorrow! I can't wait!

Catching up? These posts are categorized as pregnancy under my life. Thanks for following along!

Second Trimester: Weeks 16 & 17

Hello and happy Monday! How was your weekend? Mine was great! You might have seen that we had an anatomy scan and all looks good! Here's a recap of week 16 & 17! 2015-04-19_0003

CRAVINGS:

Raisin bagels with onion and chive cream cheese - oh, yes! I also discovered red velvet oreos and they are amazing! I'm not usually into oreos but something about these, they're so, so good! I also have a weird affinity for KRAFT macaroni and cheese! I haven't eaten it in YEARS and yet lately, I can't get enough! #nojudging

2015-04-19_0009

AVERSIONS:

I haven't had any but I have had a few frequent tummy aches, which, for me, is usually an indicator that I need to clean up my diet. (I mean, obviously oreos, mac'n'cheese, and bagels aren't the most nutritious choices)! I've started to reincorporate my salads-in-a-jar for lunch and going back to an English muffin and peanut butter for breakfast.

OTHER SYMPTOMS:

Frequent urination: I swear I have to go every 20 minutes, it's crazy!

I'm hormonal, don't mess with me! Lol! I'm definitely hormonal. It doesn't take much for me to feel sad or angry. I ping pong back and forth all the time. For example, we went out of town for a wedding and it was rough! It was a gorgeous wedding (and we all know I love weddings!) but the travel, being out of my comfort zone, the logistics (Aaron was in the wedding), all the family and coordinating  - it took a toll on my emotions. I'm fine now but note to self: traveling may not be the best when you're feeling super temperamental! 

I'm getting bigger: I feel like I've gained 100 lbs but when I weighed in Friday I was only up about 11 lbs. I ended the Summer Shape-up at 153 lbs but was around 155 when I got pregnant (at the beginning of the year). Now I'm 166 lbs and growing by the day. Haha.

EXERCISE

One sentence: Exercise is hard!

Getting there is hard, keeping my pace (even slowing my pace) is hard, and doing a few of the usual CrossFit moves are hard, too (well, more like awkward)! I'm doing my best to stick with it and modify as I go. It's funny because I've reverted back to feeling scared of the workout at times!  I really have to push myself mentally to just go and figure the rest out when I get there!

3 Rounds: 90 seconds at each station, with 90 seconds of rest between each round: Slamballs (20/15) Russian Twists (20/15) Burpees Double Unders

Doesn't sound hard but it was! The slam balls were rough and I used a 10 lb ball (not 15 lb). It was my first workout in awhile so I think that contributed to feeling totally winded afterward! I did feel good about my double unders (I was actually getting them)! Of course I modified the burpees to no push-up burpees.

CrossFit_17weeksWe have a new photographer at CFFC - thanks for this one, Ish!

“The Chief” 5 Rounds, resting 1 minute between rounds: AMRAP in 3 minutes of: 3 Power Cleans (135/95) 6 Pushups 9 Air Squats

This. was. rough. I did 85 lb cleans but they weren't the worst part -- those push-ups!! It's hard to keep my back straight -- I feel like my belly hangs so low! So I modified by dropping to my knees. I also tried to rest between rounds, but 1-minute isn't a whole lot of time. In the end I just happy I showed up for this one!

WHAT ELSE IS NEW: 

We went to Florida for a friend's wedding! It was gorgeous!  The reception was completely decked out with up-lighting, glitter charges, and silver chiavari chairs! The bride and groom also had the most beautiful sweetheart table with a white, tufted couch and ruffled linen table setting! I loved everything about the decor!

2015-04-26_0012

We visited Granny while we were in Florida, which was great - as usual! I love my grandmother, she's the best! She surprised me with two big bags of gummy bears when I arrived, which I immediately tore into! We didn't have a long visit (just one night) but we made it count with a long walk on the beach and a trip to get ice cream cones. I always love snapping pics of Granny when I see her! Her happiness exudes!

Daytona Beach

We announced our baby news on Facebook! At the wedding I made sure to get a picture of Aaron and I holding the gorgeous signs our Cherie made for us to announce our big news on Facebook! I was so shocked and excited to receive so many comments and likes from our friends - 100 comments and close to 300 likes! It was such a whirlwind of fun to share this with so many folks at once! Thanks for all the well wishes, everyone!

SONY DSC

GRATEFUL THIS WEEK:

For my awesome friends! One offered to throw us a baby shower and another called me during a mini-meltdown in Florida. I'm so lucky to be surrounded by so many wonderful ladies! Love you girls!

COMING UP: 

We're having a gender reveal party this Saturday and I can't wait!

Is it a boy or girl??? What do you think??

I was really proud of myself for keeping the envelope with the gender sealed and passed onto Michelle - she's planning the party... I think we're all excited for the reveal!!

Gender Reveal Envelope

Catching up? These posts are categorized as pregnancy under my life. 

Thanks for following along!

Second Trimester Recap: Weeks 14-15

I can't believe I'm in the second trimester - yay! They say you feel your best during this trimester and so far, I can say I do feel pretty good. I'm definitely a lot more energized than I was in the beginning. The warmer temperatures are a welcome change, too! tumblr_inline_nlzzgc3vCR1r15w7r_500

CRAVINGS

Gummy bears and burgers! I've never been a fan of gummy bears but one day, the craving just hit me and from then on, I couldn't get enough! I'm also not one to ever go for a burger and fries, but recently I went out of my way to hit up Five Guys for lunch. Alone. Haha. It was delicious!

Thankfully I have had some semi-healthy cravings like for this Green Caveman Smoothie from my favorite place: South Block Cafe! It's made with house cashew milk, dates, bananas, and kale. Yum!

Green Smoothie

AVERSIONS

None at the moment. I'm finally getting back in the kitchen and cooking. The refrigerator doesn't gross me out anymore!

OTHER SYMPTOMS

Peeing a lot. Especially in the morning. I've never been the person to wake up to have to go pee until recently. Now I have to release my bladder first thing every morning!

Sneezing. It's funny, you read about it and then suddenly experience it! I've had a lot of random sneezes lately.

Forgetfulness. I couldn't find my car in the parking garage the other day! (No seriously!) I searched the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th floors looking for it just to discover it was on the first floor! I had to use the panic button to find it. So crazy!

Weight gain. I'm not sure exactly how much I've gained but... it feels like quite a bit! It was like all the sudden one day my belly was visible! My wardrobe has been slowly diminishing. In fact, a lot of my capsule doesn't fit! I'll admit the weight gain has been tough! It's very frustrating to not have anything to wear -- I've literally yelled to Aaron from the bedroom, "I have no pants!" -- and shopping for maternity clothes isn't the same. Your body changes so much! Not complaining, just saying. It's an adjustment!

EXERCISE

Admittedly it's been hard to get to CrossFit. In fact, there was this one time I literally got in the bed IN MY WORKOUT clothes! I had ever intention of going but then suddenly, I needed a nap! I make it to the gym in our condo for a little workout and thankfully, got to CrossFit for these:

5 Rounds, resting 1 minute between rounds: AMRAP in 3 minutes of: 5 Chest-to-Bar Pull-Ups 10 Air Squats 15 Russian KB Swings (1.5/1p)

This was a lot harder than it looks! Five rounds was a lot! It was the first workout I did with Aaron in awhile (hence the post-workout selfie below) and at this point I still hadn't told a lot of our CrossFit friends that I was pregnant (though, I swore I saw some of them peaking at my growing tummy! Ha!) The hardest part of this workout was definitely the pull-ups. They've always been hard for me but they felt especially exhausting this time.

IMG_8301

“Rankel” AMRAP in 20 minutes of: 6 Deadlifts (225/155) 7 Burpee Pullups 10 KB Swings (2/1.5) 200 m Run

Rankel was a rough one! I was proud of myself for going but realized pretty quickly that I'm not going to be able to "go" like I used to. I had to really watch the burpees so as to not plop my belly on the floor and I also scaled the weight, using a lighter kettlebell and less weight on the deadlifts. All in all, it felt good to move, though!

SONOGRAMS

Sadly we didn't get a sonogram at my 15-week appointment but I did get the hear the baby's heartbeat, which was thrilling! Even though it was the quickest appointment ever I was very happy that Aaron came because the heartbeat just sounded like muffled noise to me until he pointed out the beat - sweet moment for us! <3

WHAT ELSE IS NEW

We celebrated our 4-year anniversary! We went to Bus Boys & Poets for a nice dinner and LOVED our meal. We shared the nachos as an appetizer, Aaron got the catfish and I got the salmon -- all of it was good! (Below) I'm experimenting with a little jean-on-jean. *Only because I'm running out of clothes that fit!

IMG_8334

We also got a new rug! I'm obsessed with Rugs USA. I got the rug below for less than $200 and it values at close to $800! It's gorgeous and really changed the whole look and feel of our living room. Updated house tour coming soon!

2015-04-29_0003

Aaron surprised me and swapped our old rug with the new one! Whadda guy! :)

Speaking of house tour, we made some progress on our second bedroom! I wish I had a photo of this room before! It was awful! Full of junk and the furniture was arranged completely different. My mom came over and help me clean it up. There's still a long way to go before it's nursery ready!

2015-04-29_0001

We ventured to see the Cherry Blossoms the day after our anniversary, but not without stopping by our favorite diner for breakfast first (Bob & Edith's in Arlington). I love breakfast so much and it's an important meal for me! I seriously wake-up hungry!

2015-04-26_0004

(Not sure how Aaron can stomach those pork chops. #notafan)

Downtown was completely ridiculous! It was so crowded! We snapped a few pictures, saw some friends, and then headed back home. I was exhausted from "Rankel" and then walking to the metro and all over downtown. I crashed when we got home!

SONY DSC

All in all, great few weeks! :-)

Catching up? These posts are categorized as pregnancy under my life. Thanks for following along!

First Trimester Recap

If you know me then you know I love blogging. Journaling and taking pictures is definitely my thing so, it should come as no surprise I plan to blog this pregnancy! All of these posts will be categorized as pregnancy under my life. I hope you enjoy following along! Now, onto the fun stuff!

BELLY PICS

Belly Pics

CRAVINGS

Sumo citrus, Greek yogurt, lemonade, allthesweets (donuts, cupcakes; Lord help me!), all varieties of cheese (mac'n'cheese, cheez-its, and cheese sticks), pickles, and gummy bears - totally weird! Egg sandwiches and SweetGreen salads (especially the Harvest Bowl); candy - Kit-Kat and M&Ms. And I love a meal with steak and potatoes, and a side salad. Yum!

AVERSIONS

Chicken was a no-go for awhile and so were my beloved salads! I had a hard time cooking in the beginning because just opening the refrigerator would make me nauseous; there were too many different odors coming from it and I could smell them all - bleh! Finally around the end of Week 11 I got back in the kitchen. One of the first meals I made was Shepard's Pie and it was delish! Did I mention craving corn? I've been loving it!

OTHER SYMPTOMS

Exhaustion! Pure exhaustion. I literally felt like I was walking in a fog. I'd go right to sleep when I got home from work, wake up to eat a little something, and then go right back to sleep! I even came home early from work one day to sleep. Aaron was worried, haha.

Morning sickness: I did experience nausea but it happened in the evenings, not mornings and it usually hit me when I hadn't eaten. In fact, eating helped curb my nauseousness, if you can believe it! So did peppermint tea.

Dizziness/Faintness: One morning I sat up too fast and suddenly felt very dizzy! I got hot and prickly all over but thankfully didn't throw-up (though, I felt close)!

Peeing: Every 10 minutes, I swear! It was the worst during CAL -- the day of the final competition I'm pretty sure I peed 10 times within a span of 3 hours. (Also, the second trimester is worse! I didn't think I could pee more often but I am!)

Cold/Flu Symptoms: I finally started getting my energy back in Week 11, but then a got a nasty cold. It started with me waking up with a sore throat which turned to a stuffy nose, then I was sneezy and coughing a lot. It was rough!

Weight Gain: I've only gained about 6 lbs but I feel like I've gained at least 10 or more! My stomach is really protruding!!!

EXERCISE

I really pulled back on CrossFit, going only once, sometimes twice, a week but that's also been in part due to my new job. Between the exhaustion and my new routine (commuting a lot further) I just haven't been able to get there as often. Thankfully the Capitol Affiliate League and CrossFit Open kept me going every Saturday, at the very least. My goal is to stick with it!

Sara_15.4Kx Photography on Facebook / 14.4 at CrossFit Falls Church

SONOGRAMS

I have loved seeing little glimpses of our bean! This was the first sonogram photo. The doctor said, "You have a little gymnast in there, upside down!" I think he or she looks like an upside down teddy bear, too cute!

2015-03-12_0002

I had a sonogram at 7 weeks (above), 9 weeks and 11 weeks -- all looked good. My next one will be at 20 weeks and at that appointment we'll find out if it's a girl or boy! Eek!

HOW I FOUND OUT I WAS PREGNANT

A few of my friends were trying to get pregnant and one of them posted to a shared Facebook group that they were testing -- four days before their missed period. At the time my period was four days LATE. I figured if she was testing I might as well!

Next thing you know... two lines!!

MY REACTION

At first I was a little shocked and scared, I won't lie! I was only two weeks in at my new job and this wasn't exactly the plan. I spent that first day overwhelming myself with questions that -- at the time -- were impossible to answer. However, I turned to some mama friends online and they gave me the best advice: everything will work out. And, it has!

HOW I TOLD AARON 

Aaron went to CrossFit after work per usual but I was exhausted and just went home. I waited the whole day because I wanted to tell him in person and so, when he was in the shower, I placed the positive test on the bed.

He walked in and yelled, "BABE."

We just hugged and (honesty) I cried! I was scared -- is this really happening? Right now? Ah!

HOW WE TOLD OUR FAMILIES 

I was really excited to tell everyone but wanted to make it special. We also wanted to wait until we were in the clear (out of the first trimester) so a lot of anticipation went into the reveal.

For my mom:

I told my mom first and in the most unique way! I invited her over for dinner and suggested we order Chinese. Meanwhile I had slipped a fortune I wrote, printed, and cut into a fortune cookie and waited till after dinner to give it to her. The fortune said:

Two tiny hands, two tiny feet, In September you'll have a new grandchild to meet. 

She was in total shock you guys! She kept asking, "Did you do this? How did you do this?"

I don't think she thought it was real!

Finally I yelled "I'm pregnant!" and she started crying. It was a sweet-sweet moment I'll never forget!

2015-03-12_0001

My dad, stepmom, little sisters, brother, sister-in-law, and nephews: 

We decided to surprise my dad's family at my stepmom's 50th birthday dinner. We knew it was a rare opportunity because everyone was there. We were pretty nervous the entire night, but finally, after the cake cutting, we told everyone to gather for a photo. I stood next to Aaron who secretly pressed "record" to get video and then said, "1, 2, 3, Sara's Pregnant!"

The look on their faces was priceless! I will cherish these photos (and that video) forever!

2015-03-21_0001

Aaron's Parents:

Aaron's parents almost always go to Aaron's grandmother's house after church on Sundays for dinner. We knew Easter wouldn't be any different so we traveled to Williamsburg and planned to surprise them then -- we knew his aunt, uncle and cousin would likely be there and lucky us: they were!

After church and a little chit-chat with the family, we gathered around the table to say a blessing over the food (another tradition). Aaron offered to say the prayer and when he did, he asked that God "Especially watch over Sara this year... and our child."

I'll never forget everyone's head popping up and the shocked look on all of their faces!

They quickly put their heads back down and said, "Say amen!! Say amen!!" So Aaron did and then the hugs, tears, and joy ensued! This is the first grandchild on his parent's side so it's an exciting time.

Granny: 

Last but not least, we told my granny through FaceTime. We did our usual catching up and then I talked about getting our new couch, rug, "and we got something else new, too." I flipped the camera to Aaron who was holding a onesie and she screamed with excitement! I wish I would have thought to take a screenshot because she was smiling from ear-to-ear!

There's not much else to say about my first trimester except, I survived! I can't believe I'm already almost halfway through the pregnancy!

If you want to read more about my pregnancy I'm also keeping a photo journal over at saraelizabethe.tumblr.com.

Exciting News: I'm Expecting!

SONY DSC I'm so excited to finally share this news with you guys -- I'm pregnant!

Our little one is due to meet the world September 26, 2015 -- just three days after my best friend's little one was born a year and a half ago!

Aaron and I were on pins and needles for the first few weeks, unsure if it was *really* happening this time, but I'm 17 weeks along now so, we're pretty confident IT'S HAPPENING!

I have so much that I want to share with you! I hope you won't mind a little fit bump blogging! :) I've been documenting all the details and have a full first trimester recap coming soon! In the meantime, I thought it'd be fun to do a little Q&A of the top 5 questions I've gotten so far! Here it goes!

Are you going to find out the sex? 

Yes! Definitely. I can't imagine waiting until the very end -- that feels like pretty far off at this point! We're actually planning to do a gender reveal party with our close friends and family. It should be a fun time! Our anatomy scan is scheduled for May 1st so our party will be shortly after. (Pictures to come, of course!)

So, no more CrossFit? 

Actually I plan to continue to CrossFit. I haven't been going as often because of my new job, which I started January, and because I was totally exhausted the first trimester but I'm dying to get back into it! My doctor knows that I do CrossFit and has advised me to listen to my body and scale as necessary. I've also been following CrossFit Mom's suggested first and second trimester guidelines as they apply. Thankfully I've been able to do most everything thus far, but last week burpees did start to feel a little weird so I'll be nixing them soon! (Hallelujah, a break from burpees!) I know there's a bit of controversy around crossfitting during pregnancy, but Aaron and I agree, it's good for me to keep going. In fact, the goal is to keep going! So far, I feel great when I get there and it's been especially good for my mood and it always gives me a boost of energy.

How's Aaron? Is he excited?

Aaron is definitely excited! He's wanted a family for awhile now and I think it's slowly sinking in that we'll be a family of three very soon! He's been really calm about all the things that worry me -- from maternity leave to breastfeeding and that's been good because it prevents me from worrying too much about anything. Of course I think Aaron will be even more excited when my stomach grows more and especially when our little one arrives. He likes to think of himself as cautiously excited about just about everything and this has been no different.

Have you had any cravings?

During the first trimester I ate a lot of carbs, which were good for getting me full fast -- feeling hungry often meant feeling nauseous.

I'm slowly trying to re-incorporate my salads and Whole30 favorites, but my sweet tooth has been all the rage!

Cravings thus far have been egg sandwiches, gummy bears, mac and cheese, pickles, and I love a meal with meat and potatoes!

Do you want a boy or a girl?

I'd be lying if I said I didn't want a little girl who I could dress up in tutus and bows, but a little Aaron would melt my heart! So, of course, we're happy to have a healthy baby. I love the little quote, "pink or blue, we love you!"

I'm super excited and can't wait to share more soon!

The signs we're holding in this photo were custom made by our very own fit bride, Cherie. >>>> Visit her Etsy shop!

4 Things You May Not Know About Us

2015-01-09_0044
2015-01-09_0044

Last Friday Aaron and I celebrated four years of marriage! Woo hoo! I thought it might be fun to share four facts about us, about me, and about Aaron with you to commemorate our anniversary! Here it goes!

About Us

1. Our first date was to a bible study. Second was to the club. #truestory

2. We're total opposites! Aaron's an introvert and I'm an extrovert but we like to think that means we balance each other out.

3. We used to be heavy smokers - I'm talking a pack-a-day. Eck! So glad we kicked that habit!

4. We didn't live together before we got married. I blogged about this over on Weddingbee -- five years ago! Moving in right before our wedding meant with marriage would come a lot of adjustments, but thankfully, we've survived. :)

About me

1. Growing up I wanted to be a missionary and travel the world. (Someone please tell me why, then, I'm still living in the town I grew up in? #fail)

2. I've been writing and keeping a journal since I was a kid - I'm talking YOUNG! Probably no surprise to my mom that I blog, another form of journaling.

3. I went to a Seventh-Day Adventist boarding school in 11th grade and loved it. I made great friends and started a never-ending relationship with the Lord.

4. I love cucumber sandwiches - the unhealthy kind! You know, lots of mayo, cucumbers and salt and pepper. Mm mm good!

About Aaron

1. Aaron doesn't drink. Ever. (Like, at all.) He hasn't had a drink in six years! I blogged about our dry wedding.

2. He loves snicker's bars and eats them all the time. He has no shame!

3. He loves classical music. I think he's the only guy in town driving a big truck listening to classical. He says it helps with his road rage, which I can attest: he has major road rage!

4. Aaron went to boarding school, too - Fork Union Military Academy.

Ok, your turn!

Share something I may not know about you in the comments!

Get caught up -- 1st anniversary2nd anniversary, & 3rd anniversary posts.

Photo by Katie Nesbitt for Southern Weddings Blog

Things I'm Loving Lately

A few of you said you liked my post about Things I'm Loving Lately and would like to see it as a reoccurring feature so here it is again! Bath bombs and fancy smelling soaps. How am I just discovering bath bombs? I used one for the first time the other day and I couldn't believe how amazing it was! It made my skin silky smooth and I smelled amazing afterward! I bought a bunch of bath bombs and fancy smelling soaps from a store in San Diego called Soap Opera then went to Lush here in DC and stocked up! I'm officially obsessed! GIVE ME ALL THE BATH BOMBS!

think pink bombs

Athleta City Jogger Pant - I traveled to San Diego and back in these pants and let me tell you: they're incredibly comfortable! I wore them with my Nike frees and Victoria's Secret sweater. The sales lady at Reebok told me she loved my outfit! I took it as a huge compliment considering she works in the athletic wear industry!

athleta city pants

I used Uber for the first time in San Diego and now, I'm hooked. Correction: I used Uber about 6 times in San Diego because the ease of my first experience had me sold! I really love that I can hail a cab with the touch of a button; no phone call necessary! I swear one-touch service is the way of the future!

Uber-Logo

All things coconut! At Soap Opera in San Diego I bought quite a few coconut-scented soaps and Coconut Hibiscus, this really sweet smelling lotion. I also had a koha mocha coconut frappe from a cool coffee shop called Lion in San Diego. Give me all the coconut!

2015-03-01_0012

What are your favorite things lately?

Do you like coconut scented soaps?

Have you ever tried bath bombs? 

Fit Bride, Amber // I've Started and Nothing Can Stand in My Way

AmberProfileStarting the New Year Off Right: On New Year's Eve I started taking my medication: one pill for breakfast, one 2 hours later, another with lunch and 2 hours after; then finally, one with dinner. I definitely felt very jittery from the medicine, but energized, too, which was great because I had to decorate for a party I was hosting that night.

Overall I'd say I didn't do too bad with my eating at the party -- I had 2 tacos, some small appetizers and a total of about 6 alcohol drinks, which is a lot (I know), but New Year's Eve? Come on! Everybody's drinking! Of course that isn’t the diet plan but I tried showing restraint and felt good about my efforts.

New Year's Day things were even better: I woke up and had a granola bar and 2 bottles of water immediately. Then I went to brunch with my family but it was tapas style and I really didn't eat a lot. (Literally one order of eggs benedict for the entire table to try.) Also should note I was with skinny people and a person who doesn’t even eat breakfast (my soon-to-be husband) so I tried to be like them and barely eat...

I came home and had fruit as a snack and took my lunchtime pill. For dinner I had leftover soft tacos (ground turkey - allowed on the program) and I was so proud I loaded it up with peppers and black beans,not cheese and sour cream, which is usually how my tacos roll! I also ate at least 3 hours before I went to bed (success!) and even though I forgot to take my nighttime pill, I didn’t drink anymore alcohol that evening or eat anymore food, which is very good for me. Progress not perfection people!! 

Closer

I also want to mention that I got in a great workout on New Year's Day! I had so much energy, I did several rounds of lunges and squats, lifted the 10-pound dumbbells (doing bicep, tricep, and chest moves), and a bunch of ab exercises. I even broke out the resistance band and did some walking squats! My thighs were on fire! I did leg lifts forward and backward to work my front quad and glutes (gotta work on the glutes!!) and as I took down New Year's Eve decorations and would treat the step ladder like a step stool and do 10 reps of up-downs!

From Amber's Journal January 2nd

As I wake up January 2nd I feel focused. I feel really good. I am going to kick this being fat in the butt immediately. I had eggs with bell peppers and bacon for breakfast (all allowed on the diet), 50% orange juice and 50% water, which the doctor recommended and 3 bottles of water before noon. To make it through to dinner (leftover tacos again) I am going to have some vegetables and fruit for lunch. I'm also planning to get in another serious workout today!

All in all I am feel so determined. I am so excited about this weight loss changing my life. Changing my perception of how people view me and being more confident and content with who I am. Sure weight can’t do all of that for me, its all about me and about my journey and about changing MY life. January 2nd I am implementing that and don’t want to let anything get in my way.

Have you ever felt determined on a diet? 

What helped you keep your momentum?

--

JUST JOINING US?

AMBER IS MY SISTER-IN-LAW AND BLOGGING HER WAY TO THE WEDDING. CHECK OUT HER INTRODUCTION, CHECK OUT HER COLUMN, AND FOLLOW HER ON INSTAGRAM

AmberSignature

 

What I'm Loving Lately

On of my favorite bloggers often posts the a list of things she's been loving lately and they're some of my favorite reads! In an attempt to get back into blogging myself, without overwhelming you with the details of my very overwhelming job, I thought I'd just tell you some things I've been lovely lately! Whaddya say? Athleta Sentry Hoodie Sweatshirt - Aaron got me an Athleta gift card for Christmas because everytime I walk into the store, I lose my mind because I feel like I want it ALL! I was so excited to go in there with a little cash last week and while it was tough to narrow down my purchases, I'm really happy with this large cowl neck sweater I snagged. It's the most comfortable, warmest sweatshirt ever! I love it! The cowl neck is really cozy and I love the thumb holes. It oversized and comfy, and comes in 7 other color choices!

Sentry Hoodie Sweatshirt

Waze - The free community-based traffic and navigation app is awesome! I'm in the car a lot these days and it's so nice to have a navigation system I can rely on! I travel in and around DC, Maryland, and Northern VA, and I'm always amazed at the routes Waze takes me on. I also love that it alerts me to potholes and hazards ahead -- even speed traps!

Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 9.54.01 PM

My new Target comforter! It's amazing what a new comforter can do to a room! Our bed was looking pitful there for awhile, but now, the whole room has taken on a refreshed look. We also brought the TV stand in from the living room because Aaron was able to mount the TV, and I think the creme color really goes with with the bed and our lamps. Slowly but surely, it's coming along! (I need curtains!)

House TourHouse Tour

Sumo Citrus - So I month ago I had never heard of Sumo Citrus but I'm so happy I stumbled on these guys - they're delicious! I remember grazing around Whole Foods one day and seeing a big display sign for sumo citrus. I tasted a sample and was sold -- even when I found out 4 cost close to $9! (Thanks #wholepaycheck) Um, but, dare I say it wasy worth it? This not your average orange people. Go, try, and be amazing.

Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 10.00.25 PM

Breakfast for dinner - I've wanted nothing but breakfast lately: eggs, bagels, donuts, and pancakes, even for dinner! I'm also loving toast or an english muffin with peanut butter and a sliced banana.  Also getting back into greek yogurt a little. I love keeping breakfast versatile!

2015-02-19_0001

Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Peels- (a best-seller on Sephora) I only bought the sample ($16), which came with five treatments, but during the week I used them I saw a big difference in my skin! It looked brighter, felt softer and clearer. I can't wait to get more!

alpha beta peels

What are some things you've been loving lately? 

Have you ever tried Sumo Cirtus? Do you use Waze?

What's your favorite Sephora product?

15 Goals for 2015 and Year in Review

"I can change my patterns when I change my mind about them."

-Gabrielle Bernstein

2015-01-04_0002

Before I jump into my goals for the new year, I want to review the 14 goals I made back at the start of 2014. I completely forgot about this list y'all! I wrote the post and carried on with with the year, hardly ever looking back, but the good news is that the intentions I set at the start of year didn't leave me! I definitely made progress in all that was on my heart at the beginning of the year: growing this blog, solidifying its message, and working on myself. Here's a look at how I did:

  • Solidify my message and make plain what this blog is really about. It’s not about getting skinny for your wedding day or dieting or even paleo, but rather, about finding confidence and peace with your body! About learning to love and care for your body through all stages of life, including, during wedding planning and beyond!

This blog is always a work in progress but in 2014, I made some real progress solidifying my brand story and narrowing my niche. I rewrote my about page and shared more of my weight loss story. I also brought on other bloggers (a mom and bride) to relate to women in different stages of life. I'd love to hear your ideas on ways to improve the blog further. Hopefully you like all the changes you've seen so far!

  • Be social about my blog! Post updates to Facebook and Instagram. Stop being shy about it; it’s nothing to be ashamed of! 

I'm still really struggling with this. I share a lot of updates on Instagram but not on Facebook and I really don't know why... so many of my family members and friends have ASKED me to share more of myself and my blog on Facebook but I haven't. To be completely honest, I think a big reason is because of the fear I have of other's judgement. You know, it's that small voice that says: What if my blog isn't sophisticated enough? What if I misspelled something or wrote something really personal? What if they stumble on a broken link?  Silly, I know.

  • Pitch to some major magazines. I’ve always dreamed of a little mention in Oxygen or the local express paper.

I finally pitched my story to Southern Weddings Magazine for their column called Southern Newlywed and I'm thrilled they sent a photographer to capture Aaron and me doing CrossFit (eep)! Our feature will be shared on the Southern Weddings' blog this Friday, but before then I plan to share more behind-the-scenes photos with you. I still can't believe this actually happened!

  • Rebrand the Fit for a Bride logo. I want Joy to letter it!

I love my new logo lettered by Joy! I also love my new website! I finally feel like the blog looks and feels like me.

  • Open a shop. The plan to is put our lovely new logo on t-shirts and tote bags, and send them to some of our real bride features!

I did put my logo on some tanks, package them, and send them to some of my favorite fit brides, but I've since changed my mind about opening a full-on shop. I think I'd like to do tank top "drops," offering a limited number of unique tanks for a limited time. This will allow me to experiment with designs and not have keep an inventory. Details on the first drop soon!

  • Publish Salad club, the ebook!

Womp womp! This still. hasn't. happened. And I have no excuses. Perfectionism? Time to just let it go...

  • Start my other e-books. I’m working on two: "Back, Bis & Tris, the Ultimate Guide to Becoming a Buff Bride" and "The Newlywed Guide to Cooking Unusual Foods."

I've started but both have a long way to go, especially considering how long it's taking me to get the Salad Club e-book done! Any suggestions on how to be more productive with these projects? I'm all ears!

  • Build a better website. I want this site to be more inviting, more user friendly, and convey the FFAB manifesto plainly.

I love my website's new look!

  • Get. a. pull-up. Just one!

I'm kipping pull-ups now! Yay! It's on my CrossFit list of goals to get a strict one this year, too.

  • CrossFit more.

Speaking of CrossFit, I'm proud to say I've kept with it in 2014! There was the Open and some epic hero WODs. I love CrossFit and don't plan to stop doing it anytime soon! :)

  • Eat less sugar. Sugar is my nemesis.

I did this with the Whole30 and I plan to do it a lot more! Read my Whole30 recaps here.

  • Get certified. This is a biggie.

So, another change of plans. When I first started this blog I wanted to become a personal trainer because I love encouraging people and love working out. I felt guilty for several months after missing my NASM exam and ditching my study materials, but then I realized I just don't have the time to dedicate to this goal right now and that's okay. Instead of starting a full-blown bootcamp I've since decided I'd like to host pop-up fitness classes. I'll attend and encourage other attendees but I won't be the instructor.

Lookout for 2015 pop-up class dates to be released soon!

  • Seminar! Details on this later!

So, apparently 2014 was going to be the year I did it all! Haha. I've always wanted to host a seminar to encourage and connect women who are trying to live healthier. I've drafted a tentative agenda and looked into some meeting spaces but this isn't an easy undertaking! Similar to my issue of free time with teaching fitness classes, this is something that will have to wait! I do think it'll happen one day but it's not a major priority right now.

  • Read more. Read my Bible more, find more time for quiet, for painting, and for just being; and have less stuff.

I started going to Bible Study Fellowship in October and I really love it. It's dedicated time once a week that I get to fellowship with other Christians and study the Bible. We've been reading Exodus and I've learned so much! I've also been so encouraged by the other ladies in my group and I'm looking forward to continuing the study in 2015.

Reincarnate

And finally, my 15 goals for 2015: 

This year I don't want to do it all.

I want to do less...

  1. Less worrying if I'm not living up to a friend's expectations, posting to the blog daily or making progress on one of my (many) business ideas.
  2. Less self-consciousness. More confidence in who I am. More being me, unapologectically.
  3. Less deflecting the compliments of others, especially when they're dead-on with my strengths.
  4. Less self-deprecation about what I should have done or said.
  5. Less complaining. More contentment.
  6. Less feeling self-conscious. Remember.
  7. Less stupid fear and shyness about sharing my blog.
  8. Less stress. Stress is another form of fear for me. Fear over the future and what others might think. If I could sum up this year's goals it's: Leave your fear behind.
  9. Less procrastination. Get off social media and get sh*t done!
  10. Less clothes. Keep with the capsule wardrobe. Stop saying "I need..."
  11. Less comparison. Especially with other bloggers and entrepreneurs. It's so easy to want to do what others are doing or have what it seems like they have when in reality: I have plenty and I'm doing a lot myself! Comparison is the thief of joy.
  12. Less mindless spending. Less random purchases at Target and Starbucks. More purposeful spending.
  13. More CrossFit. I celebrate my second year anniversary doing CrossFit this year, which is totally crazy cause it feels like I just started yesterday. This year I'm dabbling in a little competitive CrossFit. I'll let you know how that goes!
  14. More Whole30. I actually start my second Whole30 today so I have a jump-start on this goal!
  15. More blogging... freely. I go back and forth about what kind of blog this is - a wedding blog? A fitness blog? A lifestyle blog? Whatever category it might be, it's my blog at the end of the day, which means I shouldn't be afraid to blog about my life! Lookout for more personal day-in-the-life posts this year!

I also want more Sundays spent at church, Monday nights at bible study and week nights doing CrossFit. More making our house a home (more decorating!), more romantic evenings with my husband, and more big smiles, which means wearing my retainer! Ha! :)

I created a 2015 vision board on Pinterest of my goals, too! (There's also my 2013 and 2014 vision boards.)

Phew! That was a monster post! If you read all of that--thank you!

Now it's your turn! 

What are some goals you accomplished (or didn't) in 2014?

What are your goals for 2015?  

Photos by Pretty in Pic Photography

DC Date Night: Mosaic District {Whole30 Edition}

You guys remember my DC date night series, right? I blogged about the National Harbor - one of my favorite local destinations for date night! Today I'm going to share another favorite part of town: the Mosaic District in Fairfax!

The Mosaic District has it all from restaurants to shops to a world-class movie theater that serves wine and gourmet food. I love Angelika Film Center & Cafe because the seats are comfy and you get to pick them in advance, which takes the stress out of having to show up early. It's also such a lovely area; outside the Angelika theater they often play movies on a big screen overlooking a nice patch of grass, where you can also go for yoga classes on the weekend!

Angelika Film Center
Angelika Film Center

There's a Sunday morning Mosaic Central Farm Market...

Mosaic District Farmer's Market
Mosaic District Farmer's Market

I also love all the amazing shops around the Mosaic District. There's Paper Source, South Moon Under, Anthropologie and Last Call Nieman Marcus. There's also a huge Target! (Who doesn't love Target??)

There's some great food options, too: Sweet Green and a MOM's Organic Market. And -- the inspiration for this post, True Food Kitchen where you can dine even when you're on the Whole30!

True Food Kitchen
True Food Kitchen

My friend Naomi recommended this restaurant to me and I'm so glad that she did! They're unlike any other restaurant I've ever been to because they don't serve soda and everything on the menu is fresh, locally sourced, and supports an anti-inflammatory diet.

Not only that, but being on the Whole30 you cook a lot! It's hard to find places where you eat out without the stress of knowing whether your options are Whole30 compliant. That's why it was such a treat to go toTrue Food Kitchen during the program! I even got to have dessert: the banana chia pudding, which was out of this world good!

A few other cool options on the menu at True Food Kitchen: "Kale-aid" made of kale, apple, cucumber, celery, and lemon and ginger! Spaghetti squash casserole (I don't think I've ever seen spaghetti squash on a menu anywhere, ever!) and big delicious sounding salads made up of cucumber, olive, tomatoes, quinoa, feta, and lemon oregano vinaigrette! I seriously can't wait to go back!

True Food Kitchen
True Food Kitchen

When we went I ordered the bison burger "protein style," meaning it was served with lettuce, not a bun! It came with a side of sweet potato hash and a delicious kale salad. Everything was so good - I cleared my plate!

True Food Kitchen
True Food Kitchen

Have you ever been to Mosaic District? 

Where you do have date night? 

Have you ever been to a healthy restaurant like that? 

 

MEAL PLANNER DOWNLOAD (2).png

Happy Halloween & a November Mantra

Hello and Happy Halloween! As you know I'm doing the Whole30 so I won't be indulging in any candy this holiday... I don't feel sad about it at all, though! I've been eating really good and feeling really good. I plan do a full recap of the first week Monday so stay tuned! I will say that so far, candy and other treats aren't tempting me at all! Let's hope this lasts! :)

Since it's the night before November 1st, I thought it would be a good time to introduce my mantra for the month: Now or Never! 

November_Now

A post titled Toss Those Bucket Lists from Fit Plus Fab inspired this month’s mantra! I love this idea to go for your goals right now - today! - and not writing them down to do someday or when fill-in-the-blank happens!

I’m really guilty of this. I put off a lot of things because of fear, a lack of commitment (or setting aside the time to do them), or because of money (meanwhile Starbucks is burning a hole in my pocket).

What’s something you’ve been wanting to do for awhile?

Maybe for a few months or even years? This month, I hope we can encourage each other to go for it!

Quote

I feel like I got a head start on this mantra when Aaron and I decided to buy a condo. We'd been looking forever but kept putting off making a decision and actually going for it. We move in tomorrow and of course, I'm so glad we finally pulled the trigger!

My November Now-or-Never list:

-Redesign the blog! -Try a new (fun) fitness class like rock climbing, pole dancing or aerial fitness! -Be in a photoshoot (eek, scary!) -Complete the Whole30 -Try juicing!  -Finish my e-book -Start teaching in a fitness capacity (or at least studying for the NASM again)

Obviously that's A LOT of goals and I probably won't get to do them ALL in November but I hope this mantra pushes me to go for it - especially the things I'm inclined to put off because of fear or procrastination.

Tell me, what's something you've been putting off you'd like to finally cross of your bucket list? 

What you done a Whole30?

What was your experience the first week? 

Are you dressing up for Halloween? Going out? 

30 Before Thirty

Guys, I can hardly believe it - the countdown to my 29th birthday is on! It's just 5 days off now! Because it's my last year in my twenties, I figured it was time to revisit the 30 Before 30 list I wrote back in 2011 on my old blog, Sincerely-Sara. 28th Birthday

I actually completely forgot about this list in 2012 and 2013 but when I rediscovered it recently I was pleasantly surprised to see that I've accomplished a lot of my goals already!

I also realized some of my goals needed to be revised; for instance, when I said I wanted to travel to 25 different countries (ha!) - I think was being a little unrealistic!

Check out my new and improved 30 Before 30 bucket list after the jump!

1. Run a marathon:

It's funny, this was one of the first goals I wrote down and it was one of the first goals I accomplished! I ran the Philadelphia Marathon back in November of 2011.

photo34'-1

2. Buy a *professional* camera:

I got the Sony A55 in April 2011 and love it! You can see some photos I took with it here, here, and here - I think they're all great! I'd like to start using this camera even more often.

3. Travel to Maine: Our wedding photographer, Meredith Perdue lives in Maine and I'd love to go visit her! Plus, I've heard the coast of Maine is gorgeous in the spring. I'll have to act fast to make this happen in the next year; maybe make it a weekend trip?

4. Take a cruise:

We went on our first cruise in June of 2012 and it was so much fun!

5. Volunteer at a soup kitchen-

I volunteered in a different way and it was the most rewarding experience ever.

Rivaud

6. Buy a house:

We signed a contract on a home this past weekend -- eek! I really shouldn't cross this off until we have the keys in hand, but if all goes as planned, we'll be moving in the first of November! I'm so excited!

7. Order lunch in French at a bistro in Paris with views of the Eiffel Tower:

They say Paris is always a good idea and I have to agree, but we took a long trip to Florence, Italy earlier this year and I wouldn't trade that experience for the world! I definitely want to go to Paris, but this might have to go on my 40 before 40 list!

8. Paint a big piece of furniture.

I still want to do this but it doesn't matter what I paint - furniture, a wall or canvas! I love DIY projects and painting, and I need to make time to do those things.

9. Buy a pair of Chrisitan Loubutins NEW GOAL: Have a functional wardrobe with the basics and a few fun pieces.

Name brands are overrated! My closet really needs BASICS more than anything -- solid color tank tops and work appropriate shoes. Classic pieces like a jean jacket, leather jacket, and riding boots.

I started revamping my wardrobe last September via a personal shopper, which got me off to a great start, and since then, I've come a long way on my own, but there's still some improvements I'd like to make. I think moving and giving my closet another thorough clean-out will help a lot.

10. Land a job as a Science Writer

Funny thing: I got to dabble in the world of science writing on a six-month detail at the U.S. Geological Survey. It was amazing work experience - I learned so much! - but I may have also decided science writing is not my favorite kind of writing. I'd like to explore writing non-fiction at this point instead, maybe in the realm of true crime (I know, I'm a weirdo)!

11.  Get published! Freelance!

Even though I'm not freelance writing I'm doing a heck of a lock of writing for this blog, which is a start! I signed up to contribute to Tabata Times and some other open publications but I'm yet to submit anything; I should revisit this goal soon!

12.  Host a Bible study and/or woman’s group

So I haven't HOSTED a women's Bible study yet but I did just join one! I'm going to Bible Study Fellowship on Monday nights; ever heard of it before?

13.  Drive cross country. See the teton mountains.

I'd love to see the Teto mountains! We were actually planning a camping trip out west but ultimately decided to got with a relaxing Caribbean trip instead. I'm not sure I will see the Tetons in my 20s, but it's definitely rolling over if it doesn't happen this year.

14.  Take a road trip with my mom.

Still planning to do this and I think there's plenty of time before I hit 30! Where should we go, Mom?

15.  Do a handstand.

Woo hoo! I've pretty much got handstands now, but I'd like to keep it going - learn to do a handstand walk and handstand push-up. All in good time!

16.  Do a single pull-up.

Still some work to do on this one! I can do a kipping pull-up but not a strict one and I WANT TO GET A STRICT ONE! JUST ONE!

17. Get a Personal Training Certificate.

As you may know, I was seeking to get a NASM certificate last year but didn't feel confident to take the test when my study period ended. It's kind of a sore subject for me because I feel like I wasted a bunch of money... and, I'm not sure I want to get certified anymore?

Well, scratch that, I do want to get certified it's just a matter of making the time and, overcoming the *fear* of being a fitness instructor. I know I love working out and encouraging others but a fitness instructor? That's just so far from where I started this journey and while I know I CAN do it, actually doing it is a whole different matter.

Hopefully one day (soon) I'll look back on this goal, laugh at these fears, and share my success story!

18. Rebrand/vamp this blog  This was in regard to my Sincerely-Sara blog and I did revamp it (although it's no longer viewable since I paused on paying the hosting fees to host this blog instead). NEW GOAL: Revamp this blog! 

19. Wear a bikini

It's so weird that this is even on this list, but it is! Even weirder that I actually wore a bikini during our vacation in Florida!

Sara's Bikini

20. Get my Master's degree

Ok so this one has a backstory: I've been torn between two colleges and two programs for awhile now. I've written the application essays for both (read: both!) and even gone so far as to solicit references. But, I haven't been able to bring myself to actually apply! The busyness of life or fear of (enormously ridiculous) student loans - I don't know what it is but this just hasn't happened... But at least I've started!

21. Learn to use my sewing machine. NEW GOAL: Learn some HTML code!

I'm totally OVER trying to learn to sew (anyone want to buy my sewing machine?) and would much rather learn some code. It'd be awesome if I could revamp MY OWN blog MYSELF! There's so much on the backend of blogging where a little code knowledge would go a long way. I WILL work on this, this year!

22. Go scuba diving NEW GOAL: Go parasailing

I did this in Turks and it was SO fun yet so scarrrrrrrrrry! Proud of myself for going through with it!

23. Go a church mission trip

Still want to do this although I doubt I'll pull it off within the next year.

24. Host a dinner party

I've hosted several! When we started girl's night, it was the perfect opportunity to start doing this more regularly and they've been a blast - both to host and attend!

25. Have a closet that looks like this: NEW GOAL: Have a home that really reflects my personal style.

I'm anxious to do this when we move into our first place this November! (Check out my Pinterest board: "When we own it," for a glimpse at what I mean, my personal style!)

26. Travel to Greece and stay here:

Yep, still wanna do this! Gosh, I have so many travel goals! Greece would be amazing but it'll probably get bumped to the 40 before 40 list!

27. Sponsor an ALS event (race or fundraiser).

I did the ice bucket challenge, which I think is the best fundraiser to ever happen to this horrible disease!

28. Get a tattoo... Even if it's small like one.

I still want a tattoo but I'm still not sure of what yet!

29. Have an amazing office/workout/creative space.

I love my creative space! You can see photos of it here.

New Home Office

30. Take my little sister on a weekend getaway to someplace cool.

I'm still working on this. She's a freshman in High School now so I definitely feel like my window of opportunity is quickly closing -- who knows what she'll think is "cool" much longer!?

Phew, ok, so that's A LOT of goals! Now share yours!!

What are some things you want to accomplish before the big 3-0 or 4-0?

The CrossFit Games & My Summer Bucket List

Hey guys! Happy Monday! Did you have a nice weekend? Mine was wonderful! It was very low-key, which I love! We spent a lot of time in front of our TV, actually, watching the CrossFit Games. I was super excited to see Camille Leblanc-Bazinet (pictured below) win it for the women.  She was the first CrossFitter to ever grace the cover of Oxygen Magazine, one of my favorites for fitness reads!

CamilleIt's actually kind of ironic because the article about her was in the July 2013 issue of Oxygen, which was right around the time Aaron and I started CrossFit! I remember soaking in every word, and thinking it was the coolest coincidence ever!

Oh and I would be remissed not to mention Rich Froning! I was shocked to see him win for the FOURTH year in a row. How incredible is he? If you want a glimpse, I suggest you watch the event "Quick & Dirty" where he does four 20-foot rope climbs and three 250 lb overhead squats in less than a minute in a half! Incredible!

So, obviously, all this CrossFit made me want to do more CrossFit! Lol. Luckily, I did get in some good workouts this weekend! Saturday was a partner WOD:

In Teams of Two*: Complete 400 m Runs simultaneously with: AMRAP in 20 minutes of: 5 Pullups 10 Hand-Release Pushups 15 Air Squats

*Partner 1 runs 400 m while Partner 2 completes AMRAP. When Partner 1 returns from run, they pick up where Partner 2 left off while Partner 1 completes AMRAP.

I absolutely loved teaming up with Aaron! We got 15 rounds and 27 reps; we wanted to get 20 rounds in but I was happy with our score, especially because we did the workout Rx, meaning, I did all kipping pull-ups! (No bands! Woo hoo!)

On Sunday I did a workout that I missed on Thursday:

3 Rounds of: 1000 m Row 20 Lateral Over-the-Bar Burpees 20 Push Press (115/75)

It. was. tough. During the last round, especially, everything felt so hard! The last few push presses were brutal! I had 10 left when the coached yelled for me to "finish in under 27!" It was 26:30 on the clock and somehow - I don't know how! - I threw up 10 consecutive presses and finished in 26:56! Then I assumed the usual post-WOD position: laid out on the floor! Haha. I was so happy I got that extra push from our coach for the last ten reps, though! Sometimes it just takes someone yelling at you to keep going to know that you can keep going!

Having such a low-key weekend reminded me how carefree summer should be. We often feel bogged down with work and weekend obligations; this summer has been especially busy for me with work. But, summer is just a few months long and we really ought to enjoy it, right?

This picture of Aaron with our gorgeous little god daughter is the perfect depiction of a perfect summer day, spent the day relaxing by the pool!

Summer Bucket List

I know I'm a little late in the year to be making a summer bucket list, but better late than never. Plus, I've already done a few things on this list!

Visit my god daughter, Eva and take lots of pictures. Done.

Go to the beach. See the sunset. Done. We went to Daytona - the sunset was beautiful!

Go on a romantic, relaxing trip with just Aaron. Planned! We're headed to Turks & Cacios next month! I can't wait!

Have a blog day; similar to a "me" day but all for blogging.

Have a fitness photoshoot. Done! Aaron got some pictures of me doing a few moves with the resistance bands - There's a workout coming your way Wednesday!

Get to the Olympic Lifting Workshop at my CrossFIt Box. Done. We've been twice and it's great!

Wear my bikini. Done. More on this coming soon!

A lunch date with my dad. Done! In fact, I'm planning to another one next week. (He's a teacher so it's the perfect time of year to catchup with him.)

Have a weekend getaway with friends somewhere nearby. Done. I had an amazing time at the National Harbor for my best friends' birthday weekend!

Read my kindle. Started! I wrote about what I've been reading in You, Inc.

Go to a cookout or plan a cookout. I keep seeing awesome cookout photos on all my favorite blogs and I'm seriously craving a burger, some grilled corn on the cob and watermelon! Will someone have a cookout and invite me over, please? Thanks.

What are some things you want to get in before the summer is over? 

Friday Link Love

Good morning and Happy Friday! I'm in an especially good mood today because, well, it's been an awesome week for the blog! Introducing our first fit bride blogger, Cherie (hey girl!), Karlye wrapping up her Elements classes, and a kick-ass CrossFit engagement Monday! Phew! I love full weeks like this! There's also plenty of link love to go around this week: (C) 2013 | Haley Sheffield | www.haleysheffield.com

Enter a $100 Nordstrom Giveaway over on Joelle Charming's blog!

Read Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About CrossFit from Carrots 'n' Cake.

Dive into Business Take-off Advice from Michelle Edgemont. This is a four-part series full of inspiration!

Shop Muscle tanks on Pumps & Iron.

Learn Why You Should Create Your Own Projects from the Well.

Pick up some tips to Curb Your Tastebuds from Fit Plus Fab.

And, I'm currently obsessing over these Workplace Wednesday posts on Ann-Marie Loves! I just discovered this blog but I'm already addicted.

I'm also excited because I have no plans this weekend. Our weekends have been loaded lately with lots of travel and obligations to family and friends. This weekend is a freebie and I plan to live it up! (Freebie weekends for me usually mean "time for blogging!" Yay!)

What are your weekend plans? 

Any good reads from around the web this week that I missed? 

Photographer: Haley Sheffield / Flowers: Amy Osaba / Image via Of Hearth & Home

Things I'm Loving Lately

On Fridays I usually post workout fashion or things I'm loving lately. I have a few summer obsessions and new food products I picked up from the ladies in my weight loss group so I decided to share some of those here today! First up, ice coffee! Am I the only one opting for ice coffee over regular this summer? I seriously drank two big tumblers a day when I was in Florida! Aaron thought I was crazy. But, to be honest, it was the most refreshing drink to have on the beach! My tumblr kept the ice cold and all I had to do was mix in a little almond milk for creaminess... Mmm. I'd love some ice coffee right now!

Ice Coffee at the Beach

I should admit I've been really bad about stopping at Starbucks for ice coffee, too. I usually get a venti americano with room and add a little half and half. It's only $3, which is cheaper than most Starbucks drinks but I'd love to just make it at home. However, we have a Kureig (not a traditional coffee maker) so I have no idea how! Maybe I need to pickup a cheap coffee maker from Goodwill!

Now... what to munch on with my ice coffee: Snap Pea Crisps!

Snap Pea Crisps

Alright so, warning: these are addicting!

The first flavor I tried was Wasabi Ranch. They were at an airport convenience store for $5, but I was starving and since it was the healthiest option available, I went with them. The flavor was a little weird at first and I wasn't sure I liked it, but I quickly acquired the taste! It didn't take me long to finish the entire bag! :) I was relieved to find the same crisps at Whole Foods this week for just $2! I tried the Lightly Salted this time and didn't think they were as good, but they weren't bad either! They're great for munching!

Next up is another new kind of chip: Beanitos! These are so delicious, OMG! They are dangerously good! I have to portion out a single serving size to keep myself from eating a whole bag! And so far, I've only tried the Chipolte BBQ flavor. I imagine the white cheddar puffs are delish!

Beanitos

I'm also loving Kill Cliff! Kill Cliff is a recovery drink that is supposed to provide a lot of vitamins, enzymes, plant extracts, and electrolytes. I just tried it for the first time a few weeks ago and it's really good! My favorite flavor is Tasty. Although it's not something I plan to drink after every workout, I think it makes for an occasional post-WOD treat!

Kill-Cliff

This quote! Guys. Seriously. THIS.

Quote

I've had to make some really tough decisions with regard to my day job and it's been stressful! I find myself worrying about the rest of my life, which is completely crazy and exhausting. This quote really resonate with me when I saw it! It's such a simple, yet profound outlook. It really simplifies everything. Is it good? Add it. If not, let it go.

My Weddingbee blogging friends! (Hi guys!!!!) A few of us decided to do a July blogging challenge and post three times of week. An added and unexpected bonus has commenting on each other's blogs and I love feeling connected to these ladies again!

What are some things you've been loving lately?

Check out other loving lately posts here and here.

DC Date Night: National Habor

"Never stop dating..."

Ellis_002

Someone once told me the best couples never stop dating; even after they get married they treat their significant other like a crush, or someone they're still trying to impress! I know that' hard to do, especially after years and years of being with the same person, but Aaron and I try to having running date nights to reinforce this theory. To highlight some date night spots, I'm starting a new series on the blog: dc date night!

I love living in near the Nation's capital and having so many awesome places to go, whether it's in the District, Northern Virginia or in Maryland. Since I'm from this area and know it fairly well, I figured it might be helpful to those of you visiting or new to the area to read about some of my favorite places around the DMV (a common reference for DC, Maryland, and VA).

First up, the place where we had our rehearsal dinner and wedding weekend: The National Harbor!

2014-06-27_0007 I used to work at the Gaylord National Resort & Conventional Center when it first opened and was the first big attraction at the Harbor. The area has grown and changed so much since then, but in the best kind of way! The Harbor offers a relaxed, luxurious and convenient escape just across the Woodrow Wilson bridge that feels miles from the hustle and bustle of DC! There's actually a lot more than 8 things to there, but these are my favorites!

1. Visit the farmer's market. It was such a nice surprise this past weekend to see that the Harbor started a farmer's market in the city center. Even if you're just going for a night (like we were) the market makes it easy to pick-up a healthy snack, like cherries or grapes to take back to your room for guiltless late-night munching.

2014-06-27_0001

We bought a mango and some fresh roasted peanuts! Cutting the mango in the room was a bit of a challenge (I used a plastic knife), but it well worth the hassle! Mm mangos!

2014-06-27_0011

2. Go to the coffee shop. Mayorga Coffee shop is so cute! It's right by the farmer's market and they sell only organic, non-gmo certified coffees! I got an iced americano (my new favorite drink) and added a splash of half and half. It was the perfect pick-me-up before a long night out on the town!

2014-06-27_0002

3. Watch a movie on the Potomac. Or, watch the World Cup! Even though there is a ton to do around the harbor, it's really night to sit and enjoy a movie (or the game) with the Woodrow Wilson bridge and water in the distance! The movie on the potomac schedule is on the website and this Sunday it's Princess Diaries - who doesn't love that movie?!

2014-06-27_0010

4. Take the Water Taxi. This is by far my very favorite thing to do at the National Harbor! The water taxi will take you across the Potomac over to Old Town Alexandria, where, personally, I love to eat at the Chart House, and then bring you back - all for $15 roundtrip! The water taxi also travels to the National Mall and Mount Vernon. (If you do happen to go to the Chart House, be sure to ask for a table by one of the many windows that overlooks the water!)

2014-06-22_00032014-06-27_0004

5. Check out the Capital Wheel! The Capital Wheel is a new attraction at the Harbor but you can't miss it! It's a bit pricey at $15 per ride but if you're brave enough to get on it, I say go for it! This is seriously the perfect date night adventure!

2014-06-27_0009

(The Capital Wheel looks spectacular at night too!)

2014-06-27_0005

6. Stay at Aloft boutique hotel. Even bring your pet! I've stayed at Aloft and the Gaylord, and my husband, the night before our wedding stayed at the Hampton Inn. All the hotels at the Harbor are great so it's tough to pick a favorite, but I will say we really enjoy the fact that we can bring our dog to Aloft! They give us a doggy bag with treats and even a dog bed, and it's super convenient for us since we don't always have a dog sitter!

Ellis_001

2014-06-27_0003

7. Check out the Gaylord: Even if you don't stay at the Gaylord, you have to go check it out! Inside there's a beautiful atrium and the views through the full-glass front wall are gorgeous! The area outside, just beyond the glass doors is lovely too (I've even seen people taking engagement photos there!)

I also can't move on without mentioning the atrium view rooms at the Gaylord. They are truly unique! You can not only see the full atrium within the Gaylord but if you have a room in the center, high enough up, you also get an amazing view of the Woodrow Wilson bridge and water. It's seriously gorgeous! (I miss the perks of working there and getting these rooms at a discount!)

Gaylord

8. Go Shopping. Even though I haven't been to the Tanger Outlets, I hear they're fabulous! You can take a shuttle from the Harbor right to them and back, which means no driving necessary for the full weekend! What's there not to love?

Other things to do: 

Nightlife: 

Whether you're into dueling piano bars (Bobby McKEYS), rooftop clubs (Pose) or bull simulations (Cadillac Ranch) there's no shortage of fun nightlife opportunities at the Harbor!

Children's Museum, the Great Awakening, and a Carousel:

If you have kids and date night needs to accommodate them, the Harbor has you covered! There's the National Children's Museum and the Great Awakening statue which serves as an awesome playground for kids! There's also a carousel wheel!

Good Eats:

There's so many amazing restaurants. We love Grace's Mandarian and if you're willing to fork the bill, Old Hickory Steakhouse! Ben & Jerry's, Peeps, CakeLove, and Pinkberry - the Harbor has all the best dessert stops in town, too! But, my favorite comes from McCormick & Schmick's - their apple pie dessert is to die for!

You can see why I love this little location so much, right? It's full of fun stuff to do and close enough to Virginia and DC to where residents who want a getaway but may not be able to afford plane tickets, or have limited time off, can go!

If you make it to the Harbor soon be sure to let me know!!

Have you ever been to the National Harbor? What's your favorite thing to do there? 

Do you have a favorite date night location? 

Images of Aloft photographed by Meredith Perdue.

Smiles, Weight Loss, & Shop Updates

"A smile is the prettiest thing you'll ever wear."

2014-06-22 14.04.29

Hi, friends! I can't believe I haven't blogged since last Monday! Life has been so hectic lately, sorry! It's been all good things, though! First of all, I got my braces off! My teeth are so incredibly straight, it's unbelievable! It's so nice to be able to smile with confidence. I've been self-conscious about my teeth for awhile and of course, adult braces didn't help! They were totally awkward! This weekend we celebrated the twins birthday and you better believe I was smiling big the entire time! I also got a whitening kit from my dentist, so my teeth are looking better than ever before. I plan to blog more about my experience with braces but for now, check out the mold of my teeth before. Gah! #speechless

2014-06-22_0006

In other news I've been really sick lately! Like really sick! It started the Friday BEFORE last. I could hardly swallow at first, then I lost my voice, then I got a nasty cough. It's still lingering a little but I think it's almost gone! Whatever virus I had was a nasty one!

The good news is I didn't let being sick deter me from my usual workouts! I've been going to CrossFit plus, I've gone to Kaza a few times and even a Bikram yoga class! Diversifying things has been fun and rewarding: I'm down 3 lbs since the start of my weight loss competition! Woo hoo!

The weight loss competition is awesome!!! Everyone is doing so great! The enthusiasm has not died down! Everybody is still posting often, keeping track of their points and weighing in once a week! One competitor is already down 9.5 lbs and we have 3 more weeks to go! Here's a few pictures of some of the healthy meals and snacks people have posted. I love that our group is active on the Facebook page and that we're constantly sharing healthy products, recipes, and tips!

2014-06-22_0008

For me, the competition has provided the perfect combination of support and accountability. This weekend I noticed my clothes felt a little lose and, well, shopping has been funnier than ever! (Yep, I'm still flexing in the dressing room! Do you do that? I'm weird. I know.)

2014-06-22_0001

Another reason I've been so busy lately is because June is a month of so many birthdays! It was my mom's birthday and Aaron's birthday, and then, this past weekend, the twins turned 30! We spent the night at the National Harbor and took the water taxi to The Chart House for a group dinner. It was a wonderful time!

2014-06-22_0003

I made the twins a framed picture of "30 Things We Love About You Two!" which was a big hit. It had quotes from all our friends of things we love about them from, "Love that you're twins" to "Love that you're so fashionable!" Needless to say, they loved it!

2014-06-22_0009

Also, exciting news: I gave away my first Fit for a Bride tank! Woo hoo! I really haven't had a lot of time to promote these but things should be settling down soon and I can't wait to finally setup my online shop!

It's kind of funny, I've been carrying around two tanks in the back seat of my car to give to a few girls at my box but I've been nervous to! Well, this one girl (who I didn't even know was engaged) happened to tell me she was taking engagement photos over the weekend - her fiance is a CrossFitter at our box, too - so, of course, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to tell her about my blog and gift her one of my tanks! She's a beast in the gym so it's no stretch to call her a Fit bride! Speaking of which, I have some awesome CrossFit engagements coming your way soon!!! Here's what my friend, MK, posted to Facebook after after receiving her FFAB tank:

Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 9.12.59 AM

What do you think of the Fit bride tank? Are you ready for them to go on sale?

What's new with you, how was your weekend?  

Oh, and PS: Don't forget about Bulu box - it's only $5 a month with your FFAB discount!

PPS: If you haven't caught up with the Ask GG series -- a beauty column the twins help out with you should definitely check it out!