Tuesday, July 19, 2016


I have never been a runner. In fact, I always sort of prided myself on hating exercise.

At the beginning of this year, though, I felt a very strong push to be more physically well. I didn't make a New Year's resolution to work out every day, or anything like that (because that never works for me), but I started by seeing a chiropractor for the first time, getting some massage therapy, had some other stuff taken care of, and went to the dentist again (which I hadn't done in a couple years). I was motivated all around to get in better health. I was tired of having problems and not feeling great. I was tired of my back aching and pulling muscles when I would pick up the kids. Little by little I am figuring things out and setting goals and making plans. Each month it seems I have tackled something new, and I am seeing some great results and feeling better about my direction. I have even tried to get outside more, as much as possible! The kids and I go on long walks and just stay in the sunshine as much as we can. Rexburg winter really hit us hard this year. The cabin fever struggle is real.

Exercise was still in the back of my mind, and I had reached out to a friend who is a Beach Body coach and asked about her routine and joining 21-day fix. I wasn't worried about losing weight, but I knew that I wasn't in shape, and after having 2 kids I just felt squishy. I wanted to feel toned and physically fit so that I could keep up with my kids and myself. We talked about options, but we didn't have money in our budget to start a workout plan. I know that exercising really doesn't cost anything, but sometimes it's hard to be motivated. By yourself. In an apartment with toddlers.

Then in May I was informed that I had severe depression.
Does this look like the face you would expect for someone with depression? I didn't.
This is not something that I have taken lightly talking about, because I didn't want to seem that I was "just another person" talking about their depression or using it for attention. Believe me, it is not that at all. This wake up call was not something that I was expecting, but also wasn't completely surprising. I've always been a pretty introspective person, but this made me reconsider how I was approaching my life. This year had started off with me trying to take care of my body and help it run as naturally as possible, so I felt again this big push to tackle exercise.

I decided immediately to start working out like I hadn't done in years. At the peak of my life's physical shape (age 17-18) I was in marching band, spent the fall season as drum major, and had taken weight training. I really took my health for granted. After high school I stopped working out completely because I was working full-time (not that this is a good excuse) but I coasted on my petite build and great metabolism.

Off and on over the years I have exercised here and there, but never totally consistently. I found a great love for yoga, and I do ride my bike in the summer. (Believe me, pulling kids in a bike trailer is no easy task!) But I've just never caught the workout bug. I watched my friends doing Cross Fit and marathons, and just thought, "They are so inspiring! But that is not for me."

Now, exercising has become a great outlet. I have even woken up early to go running before Jon leaves for work, or before we go to the temple. Who is this girl??

Our apartment community has a great workout room, so I'm able to have some alone time in the morning while Jon is with the kids before work. I started by running for 30 minutes. I took it slow and ran a 15 minute mile. I'm pretty sure my fastest 2-mile time in high school was 16 minutes, so I realized that this was sort of pathetic, but the point was that I was doing it. The next day I did some weights. I combined my exercising with listening to some awesome Christian rock like Five Iron Frenzy, and it was amazing how the combination of working out to beat my depression combined with uplifting and positive music became an incredible spiritual experience.

When I beat my distance goals today by running 3 miles, I did a fist pump in the gym! It felt amazing :D Since I knew the record break was coming up, I put on Cake's "Going the Distance" for the last couple minutes of my run, and I felt pretty rad. ;)

Then I had this CRAZY idea that I could run a half-marathon. Let me tell you, running in a marathon is something that I never ever wanted to do. Ever. Not interested. I even own a book on "non-running". I am very serious about it. But I thought that maybe working toward something crazy that was totally not my natural inclination might be really good. So...

I have seen my friend Morgan Joyner run in the Tinkerbell half-marathon at Disneyland before and have loved her posts. It became a goal burned into my mind that I would do this. Because it was a sacrifice. Because working out had suddenly become my way to beat Satan. I was going to round house kick him in the face with this marathon. The ladies-themed marathon weekend in Disneyland happens every May, so I had exactly a year to reach this goal. I decided on the more realistic 10K (also because that race is on Saturday, vs the half-marathon run on Sunday). It's definitely happening!

I've been working out now for a couple months and seeing some great results! Of course it is hard to work out for a few weeks and not see the 6-pack I was expecting ;) haha, but seriously I'm already so pleased with how I feel about my body, realizing that this is a long term adjustment and a slow climbing health goal.

When I started:
Plank 30 seconds
5 lb weights
15 sit ups
Run 15 minute mile

Plank 2 min
12-15 lb weights
40 sit ups
Pilates/ab workouts
Run 9 minute mile
Longest distance so far: 3 miles!!!! (farthest I have ever run at one time)

I even rewarded myself with some "new" workout clothes from D.I. ;)

It's a long process, but I've been happy to get started, finding my comfort zone and pushing myself a little bit. The main goal has been consistency! I work out every day except Sunday, for at least 30 minutes. Usually I do stretches and warm ups with sit ups/abs and planking. Then I lift weights for at least 15 minutes every other day (mostly small sets to work on my arms/shoulders) and then I do the elliptical or treadmill for 15-30 minutes.

I have also found that certain music is way better for me to workout to than others. Relient K is a huge favorite. I also am still enjoying Five Iron Frenzy, but "The End is Near" has always been my favorite album of theirs (not live, prior to the double release combo of The End is Here-which is also good), so I find myself listening to it on repeat. Some days I sprinkle in a little non-religious music like Arcade Fire, Cake, or Coldplay, but I have found myself just so much more motivated when listening to songs that remind me of WHY I am doing this in the first place, that I just go back to Relient K the most (they have a good album spread on Spotify).

While that is probably more than you really wanted to know about my exercising experience, I just wanted to share in case it helps motivate someone else who has been in my position. I never loved seeing others post pictures of themselves at the gym everyday, but now I get it. I feel so pumped and I'm actually sad if I miss a day or two. It's been a huge milestone for me, and an enjoyable experience that I never thought I would have. I can't wait to see where I am next May in Disneyland!

Sunday, July 10, 2016


My favorite season ever is hands down Summertime in Idaho.

It's warm enough to go swimming and be outside, but there is usually a breeze, and rarely (if ever) gets above 90 degrees. I can go biking with the kids, there is a stellar splash pad at the nearby park, and endless outdoor activities.

One of our favorite pastimes is to take daily excursions to the playground at our apartment community:

Is it just me, or does it look like I suddenly have a 17 year old??

Comparing lollipop tongue colors ;)

That Idaho sky, tho...

Little handsome :D

This past month has been incredibly packed with fun things to do, exploring new places, and having our niece come to visit from California. :)

One of my greatest accomplishments in June was that I finally made a new wreath for our front door:

Front entryway be like WHAT??! New wreath, new doormat, AND flowers in a cute pot? Heck yeah. Homemaking success.

The kids also took swim lessons in June from the local community pool/water park:

It was so fun for us to see Kate gain new skills and be more confident in the water. She loved the Nemo water plush toy they got to practice with, and singing, "I'm a little pancake" when they learned how to float.

Kate's teacher, Chelsea, was such a sweetheart. Kate absolutely adored her, and still asks if we can go back and play with her all the time. :)

Brave little man jumping into the pool:

Blowing bubbles with daddy:

*Pop* goes the weasel!

Edwin had a mommy-and-me class which Jon was able to participate in quite a bit. Wynn told me his favorite songs to do in the water were: "If you're happy and you know it" and "Motorboat". :)

June also brought Father's Day celebrations complete with pictures and muffins for the Bishop, and molten chocolate lava cakes for our dessert!

 I was so happy that these turned out since it was my first time making them.

We've been able to spend lots of time outside this month, which has resulted in an abundance of sidewalk art and me getting gloriously tan ;)

Our garden is also coming along nicely. The kids love to help us water each morning and check for weeds and new blossoms on the plants:

Kate's potty skills are going strong! She still has a sticker chart up in the bathroom (just for when she really feels like she needs a reward, haha) but the coolest part was when she wrote her name for the first time ALL BY HERSELF. I know the letters are sort of out of order. She started with a solid K, then drew an A (that looks more like a Q) and realized she was running out of room so she worked her way to the left with a T and then a loopy E that sort of resembles a deflated balloon. But the point is that she remembered what we have worked on together, and she DID it without any coaching! This was a proud parent moment, for sure.

At the beginning of July our niece AnnMarie came to visit from California. Jon's brother Mike and our sister-in-law Amanda were awesome to drive her all the way out here to spend a couple weeks with us. :) Kate was SO excited to have AnnMarie sleeping over in her room. It was all she talked about for weeks!

When AnnMarie arrived, we went to The Burg for dinner and met Jon at Porter Park to show the other Alstons some of Rexburg:

Kate could not contain her excitement and hardly slept at all that night. She just wanted to be with AnnMarie constantly!

The next day was 4th of July prep, grocery shopping, and playtime at Porter Park!

Edwin really wanted to splatter paint at the bottom of his shirt like the girls:

The poor little guy was so wiped out by the afternoon, he just slept in his stroller at the park:

That night we enjoyed the sunset while watching the neighbors launch fireworks.

AnnMarie was able to bring her bike on vacation and loved riding it around the field. Mike and Amanda surprised Kate with her very own bike as an early birthday present! I just love the look on Kate's face as she tried so hard to keep her eyes closed. :)


Her very own bike!

We've been working with Kate on learning to ride. It has training wheels, but her little legs are still a bit short for the pedals. ;)

On Sunday Mike and Amanda headed back to California. AnnMarie and I went out for an early morning drive before the kids were up and checked out all the farms surrounding Rexburg:

We girls had a makeup and hair party before church :D

Then we took a picnic up to the Rexburg Temple for lunch. There was SO much wind that day we had to modify it into a back-of-the-car picnic :D

Jon also handmade this really pretty journal for AnnMarie to use during her trip. I remember finding a love for journaling close to her age, and we hoped that she would put all her best memories from Idaho in here to take home with her. :)

Again, the day's festivities were just too much for little Edwin, who we found passed out that afternoon on AnnMarie's bed in the kid's room ;)

We started our 4th of July on Monday morning with the parade in downtown Rexburg:

The girls all got to wear red lipstick!

And we got to sit with our friends, the Sansoucie's :D

Kate wanted AnnMarie to hold her pretty much the whole time she was here...

Handsome boy!

The kids spent most of the parade time hunting for candy that was tossed from the floats passing by. I was really impressed that they made it through the whole parade with great spirits and attitudes!

The candy haul. Better than Halloween!

That afternoon I biked with the girls over to Porter Park while Jon and Edwin stayed home to nap.

Snowcones and cupcakes! (You can tell where Kate's loyalties lie...)

Pink mermaid hair!

It was a breezy day at the playground with some intense clouds overhead! But still a perfect afternoon to be outside.

That evening we got all dolled up with colored hair chalk and glitter for fireworks in Idaho Falls! These following pictures really sum up Kate's personality right now...

My mom was able to come with us too. It is so great getting to spend holidays with Gram!

 We brought a classic 4th of July dinner of spaghetti and meatballs with us to the Snake River. HAHA

Then the kids got to open surprise 4th of July presents!

I picked up these glow flags from the Dollar Tree so that they had some fun things to wave around during the firework show :D

The kids entertained themselves with some pretty crazy snapchats while we waited for the show to start:

Meanwhile, Edwin was looking handsome as ever. "Ladies..."

Our view was pretty spectacular, even before the fireworks started.

"America, America, God shed His grace on thee, and crown thy good with brotherhood, from sea to shining sea."

The next few days were a lot more calm without running around to events and fireworks! Since Jon had to work all week, the kids and I planned great activities to occupy our time.

I snapped this awesome picture from around the corner while Kate and AnnMarie laid in the living room eating cookie dough and reading together Tuesday morning. :) It's probably one of my favorite moments from the whole trip.

On July 5th we celebrated my mom's 61st birthday!
(not pictured: Kate, who passed out early)

Having my mom living close has been such a nice blessing. We get to see her more often and celebrate with her! Kate and Edwin love their Gram :D

On Wednesday we decided to go to the Zoo! The girls got matching hairstyles:

And their coordinating black shirts and blue visors were part of a police game they were playing throughout the week. AnnMarie has a great imagination, and decided to have her bike all decorated with construction paper signs and lights, along with a mini license plate she designed that said "Idaho Kid Police" on it. She wanted Kate and Edwin to match with her, and wear police uniforms. So I took them to the Dollar Tree where they found matching shirts and visors to wear. The plan was to paint them (I think inspired by the 4th of July t-shirt project), but we had so much fun doing other things that we never got around to it, haha. :)

I even got into the fun of dressing for the Zoo with a side braid ;)

At the Zoo we got to see lots of fun animals! We talked about what they eat, how they take care of themselves, and the places they like to live in the wild.

The wild "stone tiger". Very elusive.

At the Idaho Falls Zoo they have a little chicken playground which Kate is obsessed with!

My little chickens!

Petting goats:

Along with the animal sightings pictured above, we also saw monkeys, giant tortoises, fed the ducks, watched the penguins, saw bears, camels, lions, crocodiles, and a HUGE python eating a 15lb rabbit. I won't include the picture for this blog post, but seriously it was one of the most simultaneously fascinating and borderline disturbing things I have ever witnessed.

The highlight of the day was the photo booth :) I just wanted the kids to have cousin pictures together. They got to pick the animal on their photo strip, and then I coached them a little for each pose HAHA. First smiling, then funny faces, then kissy lips, then at the end I asked them to hug (intending on a group hug), but instead they all gave themselves bear hugs! I laughed pretty hard at that one ;)

The photo booth was perfect and automatically prints 3 photo strips together, so each of the kids got to keep one! $5 well spent.

Not pictured: watching Zootopia that night in the theater room at our apartment clubhouse with a gigantic bowl of popcorn ;)

On Thursday Jon taught the girls some simple bookbinding techniques:

I don't know why this picture came out sideways. Anyhow, this is AnnMarie's finished and decorated scrapbook that she made with Jon and Kate, next to the journal Jon made for her visit, and the printed snaps that I gave her to take home from the 4th of July. :)

That afternoon we went to Rexburg Rapids for some water park fun! Gram got to come along, too. :)

Rexburg Rapids is sort of like a mini Sunsplash (for any friends in California). There isn't a big arcade and mini golf, but they have a concession stand, a lazy river, a couple water slides, a pool with lanes, a rock climbing wall that comes out of the big pool, and a shallow area with a water playground for smaller kids.

Kate, Edwin, and AnnMarie waded around, exploring together. This was the best picture I could get of the three of them, even though Kate and Edwin were totally distracted with all the water and kids around HAHA

I just love this one of them all holding hands:

That night we had Little Caesar's pizza for dinner and went up to BYUI campus for a bit. Back at home we watched the Lego Movie and ate mango ice cream out of fancy bowls :D

Instax for AnnMarie to take home in her scrapbook:

AnnMarie went back to California the next morning. Kate and Edwin already miss her a ton! Since we didn't end up going to Yellowstone this weekend, our little family had a weekend staycation and participated in a luau lunch party at our apartment community, and went bike riding to feed the ducks at our local Nature Park. :) But I'll save those pictures for another time.