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We are a family of 5 currently living in the Pacific Northwest. We have three daughters (our first daughter was my "surprise" at 19, Mike adopted her in 2009) and family spread out all around the world (my parents are in Texas, his in California). I blog to keep my family up to date on our happenings and to document our kids lives... I'm hoping that one day they will appreciate this online journal of their childhood :)

I am also a photographer in Seattle-Tacoma, Washington. You can find me over at kipperphotography.com. Thanks for stopping by!

January 25, 2014

So things are different around here!!

First of all, we moved to Texas!
Second of all, our previous plans to build a house were scrapped, ha!
Last, but not least; we SOLD OUR HOUSE in Washington! Officially closed yesterday. Yes, I'm sad about it. I shed many tears already, but I'm a-okay today.

So to recap. We didn't buy a house here just yet. We definitely aren't building one (I think that's the last thing I wrote on here). Basically the story goes... we moved here for Mike's job, so he said "do what makes you happy!" and I started off on this grand idea of building our dream house. We even had a builder and designs roughly drawn (so much wasted time!!). Then one day just out of the blue, several things started to give me pause. Someone online asked "is this your forever house?" and I was like "umm heck no! why on earth would I want a forever house?!" That sounds so permanent and we for sure do not want to live in Houston forever. Then somebody mentioned getting animals because we would have lots of land and perhaps starting a garden or getting into yardwork, because my weekends would be spent outside... and I dug down deep and reminded myself that I am not an animal person (unless they are at the zoo or in nature), I don't want a pet at all -- sorry if that sounds awful. I am also not a gardening type. In fact, my thumb is probably more black than green.

Well, what do I like? I like being in the middle of it all. Ability to walk places. Lots of stuff to do all the time. I like diversity in values/cultures/people. I like my kids to experience people that are different than us and realize how wonderful that is.  I like to hop in my car and choose an adventure and be there in less than 10 minutes. That's what we did in Washington, because we had everything easily accessible to us... beach, zoo, museums, city, forest, mountains all within a few miles. I wanted that here too.

Well, Houston doesn't have a beach or mountains, but the other stuff it does have. And a lot of it! It's the 4th largest city in the country, there is an endless amount of stuff to see and do.

So what I'm saying is that instead of living about 80 minutes outside of the city and building our dream house in the country, we ended up smack dab in the middle of the city. We are in a smaller house, about 1850 SF versus our old 2750 SF and it's not as pretty as our old one, but it is great. We have had to get rid of a lot of things, which has been cleansing in a way... simplifying life is really really nice. Makes you think twice about buying anything, because then you have to store it somewhere or throw something else away.

I feel like life will be more fun and easy once we are finally settled. We've got my sister 1 mile away. My parents 40 miles away, Mike's job is 3.5 miles away... and everything that we could possibly need/want is within 2 miles of our house. It's truly a dream for me... to be able to walk everywhere if I want to...or not. I'm shocked at myself for being so happy in Houston. It's a city that I used to hate with a passion...yet, I'm already loving it.

Our future plans are to hopefully buy a house in this same location within the next 2 years.

Here are some highlights of our location:

Next door to an awesome park!

Miller Outdoor Theatre hosts free concerts in the park and shows throughout the year

Our new grocery store... I've walked here a few times already with the kids. It is brand new, serves beer and wine on an outdoor patio, hosts concerts and has food trucks in the parking lot. I'm sold!


The live oak trees surrounding Portia's school, as well as the amazing houses are fun to admire everyday.

Hermann park/the zoo/19 museums/ as well as a beautiful huge new rose garden set to open this year! I am most excited about the garden.
Oh and the beach is 45 minutes away!



December 09, 2013

What could possibly get me blogging again?

Not a move, or vacation, or baby, or a non baby (Mike got a vasectomy. tear), but rather, a goal.

I ran a marathon. 

I did it!

26.2 miles. 

A full marathon!!!!

Even typing that feels somewhat surreal. I still can't believe I can/did do that.

I had told myself dozens of times that running a marathon with little kids at home was impossible. At least for me. I don't have any help, no family around, how would I train?

Well one night while drinking one too many glasses of wine, I committed to it. I don't even know what got over me. I had a little less than 12 weeks to train. It was going to be in Seattle in December (cold rainy weather, oh hell no!) and on top of that, we were moving. Can I plead temporary insanity?

Whatever the case, I set a goal and I completed it. In fact, I kicked it's ass.

My goal was to finish. My second goal was to finish under 4:45. Well... my final time was 4:10!!!!!!! I shaved 35 minutes off my very realistic goal (based on training runs) and it was not a perfect 65 degree day. No, in typical Seattle fashion, it was  mid-40's, drizzly and windy as heck.

Honestly though, I felt so great running it. I wish I could run one every weekend. I crave that runners high, that feeling of being healthy, fit, happy and proud of myself. I also love being around other like minded people, even if we are all a wee bit crazy to sign up for marathons in December. In Seattle.

So let me give a quick recap, just so I can look back on this.

The training was the hardest part. Hands down. Fitting in long runs was impossible. The month of November I was running about 40 miles a week, I did a week with a long 17 mile run, the next week was 18 miles, then I did two 20 mile long runs to prepare for the 26.2. Those 20 milers were surprisingly easier than some of my shorter 10-14 mile runs on the treadmill. The treadmill became the bane of my existence by the end. I literally fought with my mind one night at midnight right before starting a long run on the treadmill. I knew I needed to do 12 miles. I just didn't want to. Normally 12 miles would take me 2 hours on the treadmill, but I stopped at least 5 times and it took me over 3 hours. It was my hardest run and at that moment I really thought I'd quit. Marathon training is so mental you guys.

About 4 weeks before my race I totally broke down and realized I just could not keep training without help. I had been dropping the girls off with a babysitter on Fridays so I could get a short long run in (6-14 miles), then doing my real long run on Mondays in the evening when Mike could help me, but it was still too hard to add in 3-4 other days of running/yoga/cross training and LIFE. It was just too much on top of listing our house and busy season with my photography work. So I called in reinforcements. Luckily my husband has way too many airline miles, thanks to his job, so we flew my mom up for 5 days and let me tell you, SHE WAS A GOD SEND. She was here during my hardest week of training (my first 20 mile run), she was here during the week where we had to get our house photographed/staged/open houses/etc. I couldn't have done it without her and Mike.

When people say "training for a marathon with kids is hard" I think what they should really say is "Be prepared to ask for help. You don't have the time to train and be a good mom. You have to outsource some of this stuff, you can't be everything for everyone and still do this".

Yes, I think marathon training is a bit selfish. Half marathon training is doable, because you can do all of your training runs in the allotted time at the gym (they allow 2 hours of child care at our gym), but full marathon training means running in the wee hours of the morning/night, asking people to help you so that you can run during the week, running all day on the weekends, letting your feet and body turn into a bit of a war zone and relying on your spouse more than usual. Not to mention the recovery time after long runs. Some days I was just completely done for. I could not even move, let alone cook dinner or shower (I am gross!).

Speaking of my body. I have 4 toenails that are on the verge of falling off. They are all purple and blue. It's really attractive :/. I have a scar from my bra line chaffing during my training runs, at one point I bled every time I wore that bra (my favorite one). It's healed now, but the scar is there (I scar easily). The good news is my body was beaten up during the training runs, so I actually felt great during the race. All those blisters had built up the calluses on my feet and even though they are gnarly looking, they can sure take a beating. I had no pain whatsoever during the race!

Another thing to mention that surprised me is that I actually gained 4 lbs. :/ What the heck, right?! I feel like I'm actually much bulkier than before, though clearly I have more endurance, so that counts for something, right?

Anyway, let's get past the training stuff.

The weekend of the Seattle Marathon was INCREDIBLE.

This race was a huge deal for me and I'm so lucky that my husband let me bask in it and really live it up for a whole weekend.

Friday night I had my bff's Ashley & Brianne stay with me at the Westin. We went out to a super fancy 5 course dinner at the Corson building. It's a place I've been wanting to go for awhile and it was delicious! We bar hopped all night and then finished the night chatting at our hotel. The next day I got to shop with my friends, wander the city alone, take a nap in the hotel for HOURS and then get all fancy for another night on the town with my other friends Jill & Jaimie. I felt insanely spoiled.

That night I got back to the hotel around 10 and started getting ready for the race. I had pre-race jitters and didn't fall asleep till after 1am (not to mention I could not find my bra or socks! I searched everywhere, even went to get my car out of valet, only to find them in a secret zipper compartment in my suitcase. ughh!)

The morning of the race I ordered room service (just because it feels special to do that, ha!) and relaxed for about an hour in my room while watching the half marathon & full marathon walkers get started.

I walked to the start line (about a mile away) and surprisingly didn't feel nervous at all. The crowd calmed me for some reason.

I decided to stick with the 4:30 pace group and not go too fast for the first half marathon or so. I did a pretty good job of slowing myself down until mile 6 when I stopped to use the restroom, came out, couldn't see the 4:30 pacer chick and started running fast. At some point I must have past the 4:30 pacer, because pretty soon after that I saw the 4:10 pacer and decided to stay behind them for fear that I had gone out too fast and would use up all my energy stores before the end of the race (really didn't want to hit that "runners wall" where your body is just dead and feels like a ton of bricks). I noticed that I had been running next to the same guy for a good 10 miles. I felt like he sped up and slowed down as I did. We hit the half marathon point at 2:06 and I realized I was on track to finish in about 4 hours and 15 minutes, something I never thought possible! I was feeling amazing and started chatting with the guy next to me. Sure enough he had been using me as a pacer because he said "I was consistent and he was just trying to keep up with me!". I asked him what his goal was and he said "4 hours" and I laughed and said "mine is 4:45, but really I just dont want to die!" and he said "please tell me this isn't your first marathon? You are killing it. You could definitely finish under 4 if you trained for it!" He then told me that he had run dozens of marathons, but he usually hit his wall around mile 20. We were nearing mile 20 at that point and I was ready to go fast. I didn't say anything to him after that, but at one point he stopped for water and I glanced at him and I could tell he was sorta telling me to go, so I did. I never saw him again, but he left an impression on me because he gave me this confidence in myself, this realization that I was a real runner, a pretty damn good one too, not Boston Marathon fast or anything, but I was smiling, I was having fun, I AM a runner and in that moment I felt so proud of myself. I heard from people that miles 20-26 were the hardest, the hilliest, the windiest, and I remember that vaguely, but mostly I just remember feeling like I could do anything. I got this second wind and I was flying (or it felt that way). I was smiling and tears were coming out of my eyes, I held back the full on ugly cry that so badly wanted to come out, but I smiled, a ridiculously cheesy smile. I only know that because people shouted to me "good job 1239, you are still smiling at mile 23 and you look great!!" There were at least 5 people that said "keep smiling!" to me or "she's smiling AND she's beating the pacer!", at which point I realized we were at mile 25 and the 4:10 pacer was literally rubbing elbows with me.

For some reason my competitive edge kicked in and although I had already smoked my personal goal of 4:45, I suddenly wanted nothing more than to beat the 4:10 pacer chick (sorry lady) and so I got a third wind and started sprinting.

It was about this point that I saw my friends Brianne & Ashley. They had surprised me just before the finish line.

Wow. I don't even know what to say about that moment. I'm actually crying just thinking about it.

I wasn't expecting anyone at the finish line (we have just one car right now, so Mike was an hour away with our kids -- at my request -- I wanted a good nights sleep) and I was running the race for me, a solo race, but there they were. Two friends that I met online years ago that have become some of the best friends I have.

I can't tell you how much that meant to me.

And then there it was. The finish line. I was done! The tears didn't flood me like I expected them too. Neither did the pain. I was just proud and happy and had this overwhelming gratitude for life. For being able to run. For being able to breathe clean air, to use my legs, to live my dreams, to complete goals. I know how insanely fortunate I am and in those moments I just felt so grateful.

I wish I could bottle that feeling and share it with anyone having a bad day.






Since this is likely my only running post of the year. I wanted to share a couple pics from other races (I can now say I've run over a dozen half marathons).

I set a personal record in March. I finished in 1 hour and 52 minutes, which is about 15 minutes faster than my first half marathon time:


Mike ran a half marathon with me (his first!!) and we finished in under 2 hours! It was an amazing day for us as a couple:


So, there it is. My first blog in months. Maybe my last for months.

This year has been tough you guys. It's been a roller coaster. It's why I stopped blogging. I just couldn't "fake blog". You know? If I blog, it's gotta be from the heart and be real. I feel like I've learned a tremendous amount about myself. One of the main things I've learned is to just own it. Don't apologize for yourself. Who gives a crap if someone doesn't like you? Be YOU, accept your own quirks, know your own limits (this is huge, I say NO all of the time to commitments just because I know my limits, I know what will stress me out. I want life to be fun! I don't care if people don't like me for it. So be it.). I feel like I've been humbled. I feel like I have this new perspective on life, marriage, love, being a person. I've learned that being a mom doesn't mean not being YOU. I realized this year that my happiness matters too. That my kids are my life, but that if I die, not actually DIE, but moreso die inside slowly because I lose myself to the mundane-ness of LIFE, then the kids lose in the end, so I might as well put me on the priority list too. I feel like I learned a lot, but at the same time, I feel like I don't know a damn thing and I feel like I should be eternally grateful for getting the chance to figure my shit out.

Thanks blogosphere for letting me put this all out there. I forgot how good that feels.

Hope you all have a Merry Christmas. I'll try to send you some of that runners high to get you through the winter blues. :)