Caroline’s Carnival Party

Yesterday we celebrated our Caroline’s 6th birthday, carnival style! It was so much fun, I just have to share some photos! I know putting on a birthday party at home can be a lot of work. I’ve organized many of them over eight years and three children. So, I’m also sharing where I got the supplies and a few thoughts on what I would have done differently. Perhaps I might help some other “mom on the run” out there save a little time racing around frantically trying to prepare for their child’s party. Parties at home are a bit of work. But, they are also a lot of fun! Why DO we do it? Because we love our babies and we want to make their birthday a memorable one. Here’s how this “busy mom on the run” does a carnival party.


I ordered this invitation from an Etsy shop called Little Rose Studio. I’ve made my own invitations in year’s past, but this instant download and print option saves me some time. I buy the thickest card stock I can find and I use my Fiskars paper cutter to trim them up and put them in 5 x 7 envelopes from Michael’s. Caroline loved the rainbow stripes on this one. It made it more of a “big girl” carnival party.


I ordered the adorable little sign above from Oriental Trading. It helped pull together the whole theme. I came up with most of the other stuff myself and with a little help from Pinterest, but a girl needs to delegate a little now and then, right? It would have taken me many nights to create something similar from scratch, so I called in some help on this one.


I hired this adorable ticket salesman for pretty cheap. All he asked for was some candy in return. Just kidding. He had plenty of candy, but he actually wandered over and decided to take on this job himself entirely unprovoked. The stand is a toy we’ve had around the house that the kids received from Santa one year. It is supposed to be for puppet shows, but we have used it for everything from lemonade stands to storefronts and now this. Great purchase. I think it was from Land of Nod. As for the “tickets” letters, I downloaded a free font called “Circus” from and blew up the individual letters on Mac Pages and printed, cut and taped them to the stand… the morning of the party. I always plan ahead. 😉


This fun poster for photos is also from Oriental Trading. I intended to get a photo of all the kids that came to use for the thank you cards, but, well, that didn’t happen. I did enlist my dad to get some. Thanks Dad! If nothing else, it looked really cute hanging next to all the other games. We taped it to the inside of our garden trellis and put a couple of stools behind it. We taped the bottom to some 4 x 4s so it wouldn’t blow in the wind. Thanks Mom! After I finished that I was sweating like a, well, a Carny, on this humid morning. I was really glad I took a shower before I set everything up. Stupid.


We rented the bounce house from Awesome Inflatables Rentals. They were great! What is it about bounce houses that create endless entertainment for children? We even had a little family bounce session at the end! It is pretty fun.


I bought these glass milk bottles on the dollar rack at Target and the rings came from the swimming toy aisle there. I printed up the numbers on some 8.5 x 11″ label paper I had, cut them and stuck them to the bottles. That was pretty quick and painless.


The tattoo banner also came from Oriental Trading. Ok, I guess my secret’s out. Thanks Oriental Trading. I got the cool girly stickers at Party City. I was in charge of putting on the tattoos. I set a two tattoo limit per child so noone’s mom would dislike me too much. Was going well until I went inside for a minute to check on the food in the oven and came back out to discover the girls had put some on their FACES themselves. SO sorry, friends! FYI, baby oil will take them off.


The bean bag toss materials also came from the dollar rack at Target. I mean, what CAN’T you find there? Sometimes I think they know I’m coming, because they always have EXACTLY what I need on the dollar rack. Right?


The ticket roll came from Party City. Honestly, they ended up just being for fun. I originally planned on giving each child a ticket when they got points during each game, but I decided it was too much to manage that and do everything else. The kids ended up playing with them and giving them to me for a tattoo or to play a game and they turned them in at the end for their favor bags.


The duck matching game was a flop, literally. Each duck had a number from 1 to 6 on the bottom. The kids were supposed to look for matching numbers, but the ducks were too little and flipped over giving away the numbers. It didn’t matter. The kids were happy playing all the other games.


The piñata was a “hit”!… Get it? I ordered this one from Oriental Trading as well because I couldn’t find a carnival themed one anywhere else. One thing I wish I had planned better was to have little bags ready for each child labeled with their name so they could put the candy they collected in it.


Here’s the birthday girl with her daddy testing out the bounce house before the party started.



I wasn’t planning to serve snacks other than popcorn and cake and ice cream since the party was after lunch. But the day before the party, I decided the kids would probably be pretty hungry after all that bouncing. When I think of a carnival I think of hot dogs and popcorn. I know from experience to not try to do all the food yourself and get all super creative and fussy. One time for a Halloween birthday party I did for Elizabeth I was up until about 2:00 in the morning making about 50 Frankensteins out of giant marshmallows. I was so tired and grumpy for the party the next day. Wasn’t worth it. I bought these pre-made “pigs in a blanket” from the grocery store and popped them in the oven during the party. I know they aren’t the healthiest choice, but you pick your battles. I balanced it out by using Skinny Pop to fill the popcorn boxes from Party City instead of renting a fancy old fashioned popcorn machine. I asked Andy to bring home some watermelon from his produce market.


I definitely underestimated how many cups I would need because each child must have used about three. We wrote their names on them, but somehow they still went missing. These were some thirsty little girls! If I could do it again I would put a table out by the bounce house with a jug of water with a dispenser they could use themselves along with cups with their names on them. The cups were from Walmart, the straws, plates and napkins from Target.


Snack time! We had 24 kids total so we decided to plate up the food and set it out for them at tables inside and outside to “come and get it!”


Then it was cake time! This is one excited little birthday girl!


In the past I’ve ordered really fancy cakes from high end bakeries in town. I’ve learned that it’s not worth it. Most of the kids eat about five bites and then you end up throwing a full plate of cake away. Lately I’ve been ordering cakes from our local grocery store. This one is from Giant Eagle Market District. I thought it was pretty cute.



I had fun with the favor bags. I bought a variety of rainbow colors and filled them with a paddleball game, a glowstick bracelet, a rainbow lollipop, a sparkly notebook, rainbow pencil, stickers, and of course some Barnum’s Animal Crackers. Our local grocery store, Market District, has a cotton candy machine. Rather than rent one I enlisted them to make favor sized bags for me. They were much less expensive, much less work and definitely much less mess. I made the little labels on my computer using the font I mentioned earlier and free clipart.

IMG_6778We all had a wonderful time celebrating Caroline’s 6th birthday. All the hard work and money spent was well worth the smile tattooed on her face all day long.

Blueberry Crisp

Yesterday I showed you all the fun we had on our blueberry picking adventure. Today, I’m sharing the recipe for the blissful blueberry crisp we made when we got home. There’s nothing better than baking with ingredients picked the very same day!

Fresh blueberries are naturally sweet and delicious, so who needs to add a bunch of sugar to mess it all up. My recipe uses just a bit of maple syrup to sweeten up the oats and coconut oil instead of butter.



  • 6 cups fresh blueberries
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp. whole wheat pastry flour


  • 1 cup oats
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 Tbsp. coconut oil (melted)

Wash blueberries. Pour into large mixing bowl and combine with lemon juice and one tablespoon of flour. Stir well. Set aside. In a separate mixing bowl combine topping ingredients and stir well.

Grease a 13 x 9 casserole dish or 5 individual ramekins. I used ramekins this time. Distribute blueberries evenly among the ramekins or pour into casserole dish. Spoon topping over blueberries. Place ramekins in a 350 degree oven and bake for 30 minutes. Top with your favorite vanilla ice cream or some Greek yogurt and enjoy!



Blueberry Bliss

Every July we head to our favorite local berry patch to pick blueberries. It’s a summer bucket list item that I look forward to all year round. I’ve been bringing my children here since they were babies. Back then we’d be lucky if we’d make it long enough to pick a whole pint. Yesterday we picked 7 pounds! It’s so much fun to see how the kids have grown to enjoy this annual summer activity as they’ve gotten older. I love showing them where fresh, healthy food comes from and it brings me great pleasure to hear them proclaim, “These are better than candy!” and “Let’s say thanks to God for these delicious blueberries!” This year was the first that my husband was able to come along. He sells truckloads of blueberries at his wholesale produce market, but he loves them so much that he came with us after work to eat them straight from the source. Like a kid himself, he was tossing berries over the bushes at us.

Here are some of my favorite photographs I captured during this year’s blueberry eating picking outing. Check out the trick Andy’s mom taught me for how to carry your bucket and have two hands free for picking. I’m not sure what’s more fun, picking the blueberries or finding delicious ways to use all of them. Tomorrow I’ll share my recipe for the blissful Blueberry Crisp (with no added sugar or butter) we made when we got home.



















Too Fast

IMG_7412_2Tonight I was reminded that I go too fast. No, not while running. At least not while running in marathons. But in pretty much everything else I do, while running the race called life. I came to this realization tonight as I was reading bedtime stories to my son. I usually blow through the pages without more than a glance at the pictures, hurrying to get through the book so I can tuck him in, finish my jobs for the day, decompress for a bit and get to bed (and get ready to do it all over again tomorrow).

Tonight as I read, an inner voice whispered, “You’re going too fast,” and encouraged me to slow down. I began to study each illustration. I read the book like I actually cared about it’s message. Not only were those moments more meaningful, fulfilling and worthwhile for me, little John had much more fun too.

It got me thinking, “What else am I doing too fast?” I wondered what other meaningful moments I was missing out on because I was rushing through them and trying to get to the next “thing” or just to get through the day. In the storybook called life, what beautiful illustrations have I been ignoring in the world around me? As I pondered that question I realized, the answer is A LOT.

I rush the kids from bed to breakfast to “get dressed” and “brush your hair and teeth”, impatiently shouting orders, often not taking the time to honor their requests to cuddle in bed with them out of fear we’ll be late for swim practice or camp or school. I’m rushing between the dishes and the laundry and the housework and the yard work, hoping the kids will occupy themselves long enough for me to check some stuff of my to-do list. I distract them with TV and movies more than I should so that I can get in my workout or my writing or my “me time”. (Which I do deserve, I know.) Today I was so busy running around making everything “perfect” for my daughter’s birthday that I didn’t make time to actually enjoy the birthday girl herself. Everywhere I go and everything I do, is “on the run.”

The point is that I’m ALWAYS trying to do TOO MUCH, TOO FAST. As a result I miss out on some of the good stuff. If I could slow myself down a little some of the time, the way I did reading that book tonight, I’m pretty confident there are even more meaningful, fulfilling and worthwhile moments I’d enjoy. Am I saying “enjoy every moment”? No, I’m saying I need to slow down a little so I can better enjoy THIS moment here and THAT one over there. In the storybook called life, I’m going to challenge myself to read much more slowly from now on, so I can take in all the pretty pictures being painted right before my very own eyes. In the race of life, there are many moments that are not meant to be run; when crossing the finish line first isn’t best. Like I’ve said before, “Sometimes faster isn’t always better.”

What I Learned the Week My Kids Were Away

Last Monday morning my in-laws picked up all three of my children, packed them up in the car and drove them all the way up to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan for a week at their quaint cottage on a remote lake. Here are some photos I took of this beautiful place last year when we visited.

I figured I’d miss my kids, but to say I had been “looking forward” to my “staycation” at home, sans kids, would be an understatement. I had planned out many projects, the first and most important of which was to organize my entire house from top to bottom. For weeks, actually years, I have been longing to bring order to my home. This week my goal was to clean out every closet, organize every drawer, wash all the sheets, catch up on all the laundry, clean the carpets, go through all the toys and maybe get a mani/pedi and enjoy a few glasses of wine too. Simple, right? Well, not so much. But when I am motivated and have time, nothing can stand in my way.

I proceeded to spend THREE FULL DAYS doing all of the above. I only left the house for a couple of short runs and to go out for dinner one night. It was intense. As I worked I thought about how all my effort would be undone within hours, if not minutes of my children returning home, but it felt so good to gain control over my house that I just kept going. Would I yell and be totally irritated when they get home and undo it? Most likely. But, the way I see it, if I could enjoy organization and order for even just ONE DAY it was time well spent.

Here’s what my house normally looks like:

But after “Project Organization”, my house was just the way I yearned for it to be. The kids’ beds were folded like those in a hotel room, their stuffed animals sat upright on the closet shelf and John’s train was set up perfectly with each train in a clever spot on the track. Their books were actually on the bookshelves instead of the floor, their clothes were folded and placed with care in the proper drawer instead of crammed in however it would fit, the bathroom counter wasn’t covered with toothpaste and their coats and shoes were placed neatly in the proper spot in the back hall. All their little knick-knacks, collections, cheap souvenirs and jewelry that covered their dressers had been tucked away… out of sight. The coloring pages and stickers that were taped to their walls and doors had been cleared away to create a new blank slate. You could actually see the carpet in every room. Everything was photo ready. Picture perfect. IT. WAS. AWESOME! I actually did document it with some photos so I could look back and remember how nice it once looked before it was all undone.

As the week went on I began to make a mental list of all of the things that were wonderful about my week long vacation from being “Mommy.” Here’s what it included.

  • I wake up to the sound of birds singing instead of a wee one in my face asking for cereal. I don’t have to talk to anyone until after I drink my coffee. I make breakfast ONLY for myself and eat while I write or watch The Today Show.
  • Wait, do you hear that? Nope! Absolutely, nothing! IT IS QUIET! No bickering. No fighting. Noone asking for stuff. Nothing. Quiet.
  • I can go out to run whenever I want. In fact, I can DO WHATEVER I want WHENEVER I want!
  • I put the toys away and they STAY there!
  • I didn’t run the dishwasher for four whole days and it did not include putting away a dozen plastic cups that the kids took one sip out of before they got another one.
  • I only went to the grocery store ONCE and I shopped BY MYSELF! No mysterious products appeared on the belt at check-out and I did not even once have to say, “Don’t hang on the cart!” or “Stop touching your sister!”
  • Dinner is a salad and that is all. No customized plates, no cutting up kiddies’ food. I sit down to eat and I don’t have to get up 30 seconds later to get someone water, or ketchup or more, more, more. Clean up takes 5 minutes.
  • I can eat a snack without hiding in fear that someone will see me and also want a snack. And the next child, and of course then, the third.
  • I can finish an ENTIRE SENTENCE!
  • When I leave the house, the only person I have to put in the car is myself. I don’t need to load my purse with spare clothes in case of a potty accident. No snacks required. There is no bickering about who gets to sit in which booster seat. I get in and go.
  • I don’t have to listen to the CD from Vacation Bible School on repeat every…single… car trip.
  • I was NICE, like the old me. All. Week. Long.

I was aware of each and every one of these luxuries the entire week and enjoyed them to the very fullest as I knew it was just for one week and it would go by quickly. But, as the days went by here’s what I discovered.

While the kids were away and everything was all perfectly tidy and sublimely quiet, the way I have dreamed for it to be for almost 8 years, I caught a glimpse of what life will be like not all that long from now when our last child goes away to college. The house will be quiet and clean and picture perfect, the way it was this week and the way I have longed for it to be for so long. Here’s the thing… “perfection” is a little over-rated.

This week, I thought about the moms who have often told me, “Someday you will miss the mess.” To them I’ve usually nodded my head with agreement, but secretly said to myself. “Nope! I will celebrate when this mess is gone. Or maybe I will miss it then, but right now I want it picked up, damn it!” But after having lived here for seven whole days without the mess, I see that without my kids home, it is not really “home” at all.

As I removed their mess from these walls, I removed the life and energy and spirit and joy from this place. After having tucked away their knick-knacks and collections and souvenirs and pictures, this might look sort of like a perfect HOUSE in a magazine, but it didn’t feel at all like HOME. I had created order, but as a result I had eliminated the character, personality and vibrance here. The villages they build for their Barbies on their bedroom floor, the forts they create out of pillows and blankets in the living room, the aftermath of the shows they put on in the basement; all of that mess usually makes me cuckoo. But when it’s not there, I realize that those messes are actually their little lights shining. That clutter is the essence of some of the most memorable parts of their childhood. It is virtually a shadow of their unique personalities and a trail of knowledge and happiness. This week I realized that life without it (the mess and the noise) feels pretty lifeLESS.

“Busy mommies on the run”, I know you long for tidiness and organization and order just the way I have. And while I wish that you someday also get a chance to have a break from being Mommy for a bit and that you can feel the joy of creating order now and then, I know that most of the time you are living in chaos. In that state of disorder, I urge you to gain comfort and perspective from what I have learned after having glimpsed the “perfection” that seems so out of reach. While it feels really good to gain order even for a short while, it will soon all be undone. Know that life without the mess and noise is not at all “perfect” because it lacks the character and personality that makes our days joyful and full of life. Life with kids is meant to be messy and noisy because that’s what makes it full and worthwhile.

Was it nice to get organized and have quiet for a week? Yes! Will I be irritated when all my hard work goes down the toilet? Probably. Will I try to help my children learn to be better at putting things away? Most definitely! But, I can also say that after glimpsing the future, I am beginning to learn to let go of my preoccupation with getting organized and embrace the chaos. Soon it will be gone and I will be one of those very wise moms saying, “Trust me, someday you will miss the mess.”

A Mid Summer Day’s Dream

Many of the blossoms that brightened up our garden in early summer have already faded. This time of year here there are but a bouquet full of plants still in bloom. Today I’m dreaming of the bright purples that have already grown dim and also of the vibrant yellows that are yet to come. But I am thankful for the beauty that is here now. From afar there is little color, but up close I say praise for each precious plant’s unique contribution to my backyard. As I walk through my garden I daydream about all the possibilities for this special place that God, Mother Nature and I work together to create. Here’s a peak at the magic occurring out my window today.



The "Deep Dark Forest"





Yellow Flower


Pink Astilbe


EAT Clean, CLEAN Clean

IMG_9804You know that I like to “EAT clean,” so I suppose it should come to no surprise that I also like to CLEAN clean. If you aren’t familiar with eating clean, it means consuming whole, “real” foods that are minimally processed and as close to their natural state as possible with no artificial ingredients or components manufactured in a lab. It means eating organic, non-GMO foods that haven’t been sprayed with nasty chemicals in the fields. I don’t want chemicals in our food so I should also strive to keep them out of my house too!

So when my friend introduced me to Norwex cleaning products that remove dust, dirt and grease from all surfaces using ONLY WATER I was intrigued. And when she told me about what makes Norwex different than regular cleaning products, I was convinced I needed to try them.

Norwex’s mission is to improve quality of life by radically reducing chemicals in our homes.

  • With Norwex Microfiber Cloths, you simply utilize water so you don’t breathe, touch or ingest chemicals.
  • Norwex Microfiber Cloths do not spread dirt, grease or residual particles around the way other cloths, paper towels, rags and sponges do. They pick up everything and trap it into the cloth until you rinse it out.
  • The cloth’s micro silver antibacterial agent goes to work to self purify and inhibit bacterial odors, mold and mildew.
  • These amazing cloths are actively improving your health as well as the health of our planet.

Well that all sounded great. But I have to admit, I was a little skeptical that I could only use “water” and this magic cloth would get my house as clean as I like. See, once I get started cleaning I tend to become a little VERY particular and I’m a bit of  a major germaphobe. Once I get going, I turn into a neat freak, perfectionist and somewhat (I hate this term) “anal retentive”.

So, my friend told me she’d send me some cloths to try them and see for myself. Well… I’ve been using them now for a few weeks and I AM HOOKED!! I’ve been using them everywhere and they clean better with ONLY WATER than I was cleaning before with a sponge and that toxic spray I was using to spread chemicals all over my house.

Here are some of the ways I’ve been using my Norwex cloths.

  • To clean little kiddie finger marks from my windows and mirrors. There is no residue and no streaking! All with water.
  • To wipe and clean my kitchen countertops, my electric cooktop and other kitchen surfaces. They even scrub away the maple syrup that the kids spill and gets caked on to my granite countertops!


  • When I get another one I’m going to use it to clean my bathrooms.

I LOVE that they 

  • Can be used everywhere including bathrooms, kitchens, appliances, walls, windows, floors, vehicles, toys, tools and more.
  • Reduce exposure to toxic fumes and chemicals from cleaners
  • Help reduce paper towel use and lessen contributions to landfills
  • Decrease air and water pollution from harmful chemical cleansers
  • Preserve the environment for future generations
  • Save me time – They decrease cleaning time by up to 75%
  • Save me money – Reduce the use of cleaning products and supplies by up to 90%
  • Clean my house as well, or better, than the “old way”

Don’t believe me! Well, it’s your turn to find out for yourself!

ENTER TO WIN A FREE ENVIROCLOTH! All you have to do is COMMENT on this post! TELL US one toxic cleaning product you would like to eliminate from your home. We will pick a winner from a raffle later this week and give away an EnviroCloth valued at $16.49.

To read more about all of Norwex’s MANY products or to place an order, visit

“Busy Mom on the Run” HALF Marathon Training Plan

My First Half Marathon 2013After sharing my “Busy Mom on the Run” Marathon Training Plan, many wanted to know when I would share a three day a week HALF Marathon training plan. Well, today’s your lucky day! Now, everyone is different, so I can’t tell you this plan will work well for you, but this is essentially the plan I have followed when training for all five of the half marathons I have run. I have finished each of them faster than the last, so I must be doing something right! My current PR is 1:49. I’m determined to beat that at my next half this fall.

I say “essentially” because as busy moms we know we have to be flexible. A Tuesday 5 mile run can easily turn into a Wednesday 3 mile run because your child stayed home sick from school and you only had a half hour free the next day. That’s ok, you can swap around the days a bit as needed. For me, my main goal in training is not to skip my scheduled long runs and to find a way to get in two shorter runs for the week with some rest and/or cross training in between.

1 Cross + Strength 3 m run Cross + Strength 3 m run Rest 4 m run Rest or Cross
2 Cross + Strength 4 m run Cross + Strength 4 m run Rest 5 m run Rest or Cross
3 Cross + Strength 4 m run Cross + Strength 4 m run Rest 6 m run Rest or Cross
4 Cross + Strength 4 m run Cross + Strength 4 m run Rest 7 m run Rest or Cross
5 Cross + Strength 4 m run Cross + Strength 4 m run Rest 8 m run Rest or Cross
6 Cross + Strength 4 m run Cross + Strength 4 m run Rest 9 m run Rest or Cross
7 Cross + Strength 5 m run Cross + Strength 5 m run Rest 10 m run Rest or Cross
8 Cross + Strength 5 m run Cross + Strength 5 m run Rest 6 m run Rest or Cross
9 Cross + Strength 5 m run Cross + Strength 5 m run Rest 11 m run Rest or Cross
10 Cross + Strength 5 m run Cross + Strength 5 m run Rest 12 m run Rest or Cross
11 Cross + Strength 5 m run Cross + Strength 5 m run Rest 10 m run Rest or Cross
12 Cross + Strength 4 m run Cross + Strength 2 m run Rest Rest RACE


In some training plans you will hear talk about pace or running hills some days. I try not to overthink this stuff because I’m lucky to just get out for a run. I usually just focus on running at a comfortable pace, especially for my long runs. If you want to work on getting faster, try running one of your shorter runs at a quicker pace. For example, I want to run my upcoming marathon in under four hours which puts my race pace at about 9 minutes per mile. That’s my pace for my long runs. My friend and renowned running coach Hal Higdon actually recommends doing long runs extra slow, “anywhere from 30 to 90 or more seconds per mile slower than race pace.” Do what works best for you, but don’t overthink it. My pace for shorter distances is closer to 8 minute miles so I usually run one of my shorter runs around there. But I’m slowly learning that faster is not always better. Like my good friend who is a tri-athlete likes to say, “I train slow and race fast!” You should practice running at the pace you want to run your race, but not every time you run. Do what works best for you, but don’t over think the pace. As a busy mom, just feel good that you are getting the miles in.


I’ve allowed for two or three “cross” training days because those are a little more flexible and can potentially be done at home before the kids wake up or during their nap. For me, cross training includes either a 30 to 40 minute elliptical workout, a spin or circuit/”boot-camp” class or (don’t laugh) a workout video plus I always do some training with weights. I like to mix things up and keep things fresh. My fear is that if I run too much I will get bored or burned out. I enjoy too many other activities to only run and I feel strongly that cross-training helps me run faster. As the miles build and my runs get longer I begin to stick to “safe” cross training activities that will not leave me feeling sore and unable to properly accomplish my runs.


You’ll notice I have only included one or two days of rest here in my plan. Here’s why. With kids at home, I know that when I get the chance to run or get any workout in, I’d better take it. Because there is no doubt that some unforeseen event will arise on a day when I have a workout planned and that will become an unscheduled rest day. Like I always say, “Seize the Day” or really it’s more like “Seize the Hour” when you’re a running mommy. However, if I have cross training scheduled on a particular day and haven’t had a rest day yet that week and/or can tell my body really needs it, I sometimes use a ‘CROSS’ day for rest instead. One or two rest days a week are very important for me.


Just a few years ago I hadn’t run more than a mile and really had no desire to do so. If you haven’t read about how I began running and how I built up to my first half marathon a year later, here is a post with a little bit of my background, 10 Reasons Why I Run.

Many people say that 13.1 miles is their favorite race distance. I suppose I’d have to agree. After running two full marathons now and training for my third this fall, there is a big difference between the amount of time and effort required to train for a half versus a full. Training for and running a half marathon is a nice challenge that takes determination, strength and mental toughness without beating up the body the way 26.2 miles can. Yet finishing 13.1 miles offers a wonderful boost in confidence and empowerment.

My next half marathon is coming up on September 13, the River Run Half Marathon here in Cleveland, Ohio. It happens to be the same race as the first half I did back in 2013 (pictured above) and is still one of my favorite courses. Then it will be on to the Chicago Marathon on October 11. Sharing this plan with you has got me excited to get out and run some more races.

Good luck to you as you embark on training for 13.1 miles. If I can do it, I know you can too.


PLEASE NOTE: I am not an expert. Just an average mommy and an average runner. This is simply my personal blog where I’ve captured my own training plans. Please consult your doctor before training for a marathon or beginning any new exercise routine.

My Busy Mom on the Run Training Programs are modification of programs created by Hal Higdon. All of his programs are available for free on his website. Hal also posts tips and answers questions on Facebook at Hal Higdon’s Marathon.

River Walk

Yesterday I took the kids just across the street for a river walk. “What’s a river walk?”, you might ask. Well, walking in the river, of course! It is one of my favorite ways to spend a Sunday afternoon. I could tell you all about the beauty we saw and the fun we had there, but first I’ll let my photographs tell the story.

Into the Woods

Here we go

Water Boy



Triangle Trunks

Look at this one!

In Awe

Stone Sculpture




As we tromped through the water, searched for the perfect walking sticks, maneuvered under fallen tree trunks and held hands to step down trickling waterfalls, I soaked in the magic of the moment. Elizabeth, who fussed and crabbed when we first began bringing her here, afraid of the water and the bugs, today cried, “Mommy this is better than a playground!” “I couldn’t agree more,” I replied. With each curve of the creek that revealed a new vista, she reminded us to “say thanks to God for this pretty river.”

When my kids look back at their childhood, I hope they’ll remember outings like this one. The times when we were explorers, together setting out on adventures to discover the world around us. But most of all, I hope that these times we share together will instill in them the desire to live their entire life as explorers, always setting out to discover new things they enjoy and new things for which to give thanks.