5 Things to Know Before You Get Married

A few weeks back, I celebrated my fifteen year wedding anniversary to my high school sweetheart, Rick. We were together for eight years before we married so we’re celebrating almost twenty-five years together. We’ve learned a LOT in that time. We’ve watched nearly all of our friends marry, have kids, and divorce. We’re the last ones standing so-to-speak, and since I’m occasionally asked for marriage advice, I thought maybe I’d share a little bit of what I end up telling those who ask. This mindset is what works for me, but I don’t pretend that I’m an expert an any way, but here goes.

  • Make sure you’re in love with the person and the vision of your future together, and not just in love with the idea of a wedding. If only I had a dollar for all the times I’ve heard young women wax on and on about their wedding and then look like a deer in headlights when I ask “what goals do you have after the wedding?” I strongly feel this is a common mistake with young women. We’re groomed from such an early age to dream about being married to our prince charming in the perfect gown and having our special day where we’re the most beautiful girl in the whole world. The reality is that your wedding day zooms by so fast you hardly remember it later and what’s left is a gorgeous gown, some amazing photos, and that person you wake up next to every morning for the rest of forever. That person is the reason to get married, not the gown, the reception, the gifts, or the attention. And not because he/she will give you a family, your own house, or financial security, or because you were told your whole life that you’re supposed to get married and have kids because that’s what grown-ups do, but because you are madly in love with them. Love is the reason to get married, and it’s the only reason because if you don’t have love, you won’t stay married for long. Promise.
  • You don’t get to tell the other what to do. Just because you got married doesn’t mean that you get to tell your husband where he can go with whom and for how long any more than he can tell you what to do, how to dress, and that you can’t have guy friends. To be married, you must trust. You must trust your husband to make the right choices, and when he fails (like we all do), be there to help him through that and recover from his mistakes. That’s the “better or worse” part of your vows. You don’t surrender your free will or agency when you get married. He is his own person and so are you. You each have your own identity. I don’t care where my husband goes or with whom, just as long as I know whether or not he’ll be home in time for dinner or if I should just pour myself some cereal because I’m lazy.
  • Don’t ever make your spouse choose between you and their family. Sometimes loyalty can get tricky. When a situation arises that puts your spouse in a tough spot, don’t make it harder by putting them in the position of having to take sides. No one will win this way. I’m not saying you have to swallow genuine feelings to maintain harmony, but there is a graceful way to let your feelings and expectations be known without making your spouse feel like they’re being pulled in two directions. There are times to let it go, and there are times when you must quietly and firmly stand your ground and say “I am your wife/husband, and I deserve xyz. I need you to back me up this time.” Choose your battles, and choose diplomacy over war every time you can.
  • It’s going to be fucking hard sometimes. Marriage is work. For some, it’s constant work, for others it’s easier. I had a friend tell me once after being married for a short time, “This is too hard, it shouldn’t be so much work. He should just sweep me off my feet all the time.” Um, NOPE. I wish, but no. All these RomComs  and Disney movies have addled our female brains about the nature of true love and commitment. I guarantee you will have to put in effort to make your marriage happy and to make it last. Some days you won’t like your spouse at all. Sometimes, things are said and done that take a long time to heal and be forgiven for. We’re human after all, and sometimes we hurt those we love the most. My advice here is to be present, be accountable, and be compassionate. Own up to your half of the argument. Validate your spouse’s feelings. Listen to them. Support them, and help them grow and change to be a better person. Recognize when YOU need to grow and change to become a better person. We all need those closest to us to call out our bullshit and help us see ourselves for who we really are. The trick is to come out of that process with the love you took into it. Being humble in marriage is key.
  • Never stop talking and sharing. It’s cliché, but love, trust, and communication really are the bedrocks of a happy marriage (in my experience anyway). You need to laugh together and hold space for each other. You need to be emotionally available to your spouse and be comfortable sharing any and all feelings whether good or bad. You need to be able to hash out the hard stuff and appreciate the accomplishments. A strong foundation of love, trust, and communication will help you build a true partnership, and give you comfort in that you have a partner that you can always count on no matter what happens in life. As long as you’re both committed to the marriage and have love, you can work through the tough times and come out stronger and more in love than before. That’s a reward I feel many marriages don’t experience because we are a culture of giving up. I’m certainly not saying you should stay in a relationship that’s abusive in any way, but you must be honest about what marriage is really about. Sometimes it’s painful and uncomfortable, but if you have a core of love, trust, and communication, you can overcome as a team. Together. And believe it or not, your love for your spouse grows even deeper after you weather the trials together.

Then and Now, Prom ’94, and October ’14

What relationship advice has worked for you? Do you have wisdom to share? I always have something to learn, so share your tips in the comments.

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Made (and Remembered) With Love

On Tuesday, I found out that a good friend of mine – someone I’d known since middle school, who I’d skiied with, gone to school with, laughed with, learned with – was killed by a predatory bear while doing field work in Alaska.

Every day, I open Facebook and another one of Erin’s many friends or family members has written something beautiful about her. They’ve shared happy memories, amazing pictures of her adventures… and it’s at once so sad and so comforting to know that she was so well-loved.

She brightened so many lives and it’s just effing awful that she’s gone because the world is missing out on the incredible person she was and had yet to become.

Erin was always cooler than all of us.

Tuesday evening, I needed to do something with my hands so I could think about something else for just a little while. Tuesdays in the summer are also traditionally pancake nights in our house, so I pulled out my sourdough starter and got to work.

This starter is special to me for a couple of reasons. One, it was a gift from my mom for my wedding. Two, it’s starter she made in Alaska and feels like home. I needed a little bit of home this week. 

Along with the starter, my mom gave me a few of her sourdough recipes: brownies (omg), biscuits (below), and pancakes. The biscuits might be my favorites, but they’re all delicious. 
The sourdough pancake recipe as become my go-to this summer, though. One batch makes a huge stack of the most delicious ‘cakes ever. Clay likes his with chocolate chips, I take mine plain, and lately, my mom has tried making them with slices of apple baked in. As is the case with most pancakes, the possibilities are nearly endless.

My mom’s pancake recipe is as follows, for anyone interested in trying for themselves. If you want to try your hand at making sourdough (if you don’t have some already), it’s actually pretty simple. King Arthur Flour has a great post about how to do it.

I usually add a little flour (around 1/4 cup, maybe less) to the batter, because I like my pancakes a little thicker, but the recipe as-written is generally perfect. Seriously. Look at these.

Mom’s pancakes this week became comfort food – and I’m okay with that. They reminded me of home and home is where I want to be right now, to be close to the community I grew up in, and to give hugs to those who need them.

Erin was a little spark of magic on earth.

This weekend, Clay and I are going to go climb some mountains I think – feels like an appropriate way to honor Erin and remember her adventurous spirit. <3

 

Road Tested: 2Toms FootShield (with coupon code)

Disclaimer: I received 2Toms FootShield to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews! All opinions are my own and no further compensation has been given.

There’s no nice way to say this so I’m just going to…

Runners smell.

We just do. And in the warmer weather, woo-wee, it gets so much worse. Seriously. SO. MUCH. WORSE.

As much as I like working up a good sweat, I am also well aware that people around me don’t want to smell me. Heck, I don’t want to smell me. Plus, extra sweat equals higher chances of chafing and blisters. No thank you!

Must haves at Ragnar – 2Toms FootShield, Knuckle Lights, Road ID

When BibRave mentioned that they were looking for BibRave Pros to test out the 2Toms FootShield, it stands to reason that I jumped at the opportunity. I’ve had my share of blisters from wearing the wrong socks while running and if there’s something on the market that can help keep my feet dry, odor-free, blister free, and happy – I’m definitely interested!

2Toms FootShield was one of the first things in my bag while packing for Ragnar PA. Spending over 35 hours in a van with 5 other people while running can definitely get smelly and I wanted to be sure that I did my part to stay as odor-free as possible.

The roller ball applicator made it easy to roll on my feet and I remained blister free and fresh smelling. (Well, at least my feet did! I used wipes to help the rest of my body.)

What I love about 2Toms is that it’s not just for when I’m running or working out. I’ve been using it while wearing my flats or summer sandals daily and there’s a noticeable difference when I take my shoes off at the end of the day. Is it the jojoba (what a fun word!)? The grape seed? The tea tree oils? All I know is that it works and I like it!

*Warning – foot picture ahead. I know some people are squeamish when it comes to feet.*

Honestly, I think my kids and husband might need bottles of their own. They develop “foot crud” (as they refer to athlete’s foot) and 2Toms FootShield is known for alleviating that! Such a simple fix!

Want to try it out? The bottle costs $15 and the discount code 2Toms20 will save you 20% off online purchases. (expires 9/30/17). Join us at the BibRave 2Toms FootShield Twitter #bibchat on June 27th at 9pm EST.

Oh, and also, BibRave is accepting applications for new BibRave Pros right now! If you’re interested, be sure to click on the link at the top of this post. I’ve been involved a little over half a year now and it’s been a fantastic experience. Love the BibRave community!

You Know You’re a Ragnarian If…

Mer and Cam here! Mer is a recent first time Ragnarian, while Cam is our seasoned pro with more than 10 Ragnars under her belt with her first back in 2012.

While Ragnar PA presented its own unique course and yes, set of challenges, we are both of the opinion that Ragnar is one crazy good time (emphasis on the crazy).  Besides the awkward post-race walk and the huge medal, there are a few telltale signs you’re now a Ragnarian.

You know you’re a Ragnarian if…

When you used to see white vans, you thought there were strangers that were going to lure you with candy and going to kidnap you.

Now you think that there are strange people that you may have just met who will give you candy… and drop you off in the middle of nowhere to run.

RagnarPA2You know you’re a Ragnarian if…

You spend the days leading up to Ragnar buying random props and costumes off the internet and practicing your stealthy ninja ways… and fighting off your children from playing with your props. They are NOT toys, people, they are props!

You know you’re a Ragnarian if…

If anyone says anything resembling a song lyric, there will automatically be a sing-along.

You know you’re a Ragnarian if…

When setting up a ninja star assembly line four hours before you’re supposed to get up to run 200ish miles becomes a priority.  Furthermore, when only sleeping four hours before running 200ish miles is the “good” plan.

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The early ninja gets the kill!

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It seemed like a good idea at the time…

You know you’re a Ragnarian…

When you start sharing toilet paper with your new friends. Also, when you’re moved to tears by the sight of indoor plumbing.

You know you’re a Ragnarian…

When you all of a sudden need not one, but two new Ragnar sweatshirts… in June.

You know you’re a Ragnarian…

When you develop the ability to sleep anywhere because even concrete has to be more comfortable the van.

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You know you’re a Ragnarian if…

You never see another hill again in your life, you would be a-okay with that.

At least you get an extra medal for running straight up a mountain! Poc-o-nooo he didn’t!

You know you’re a Ragnarian if…

Even though you hate them, you can still appreciate those hills because at least it gets you views like these:

You know you’re a Ragnarian if…

You can’t help but question your sanity but then you see this sign and it makes it all better.

You know you’re a Ragnarian if…

Even after all this, you start planning your next Ragnar because as soon as you’re apart, you miss your relay team.

And even when you’re still together but know you’re going to be apart.

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It’s so hard to say goodbye!

You know you’re a Ragnarian if…

You know that you can do anything because, after all, you’ve done a RAGNAR.

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Have you done a Ragnar Relay? If you have, what would you add to this list? If you haven’t, does this make you want to do one or have we scared you away? 😉

Race Recap: Vacation Races Yellowstone Half

Last weekend, amazing races took place all over the country. Maybe you even participated in one. (If so tell me allllll about it in the comments!) I was lucky enough to be one of those people, and I can’t wait to show you all the pictures from  the Vacation Race Yellowstone 5k and Half Marathon. I had dreamed of doing the Caldera Triple this year, but other obligations (tickets to see Roger Waters) kept me from the mother of all medals. Next year, it’s on!

Disclaimer: while I am a Vacation Races Ambassador, I did pay for my registration for this race and I didn’t receive any compensation for this race review.

I live about ten hours from Yellowstone. Honestly, when the scenery is as beautiful as it was and you’re driving your Mustang, ten hours feels like five.We drove up last Thursday and got into Yellowstone at around seven o’clock in the evening. Along the way, we stopped at an overlook to take in the most beautiful mountain range I’ve ever seen, and keep in mind, Rocky Mountain National Park is my backyard. If you’ve never been to the Grand Tetons, you need to add it to your bucket list.

Jackson Lake and Grand Teton

We came from the south which meant we had to drive through Grand Teton National Park to get to Yellowstone. We decided to buy an annual park pass since we’ll soon be living so close to a national park ourselves. Eighty bucks to support our national treasures was money well spent in our book.

I had signed up for the Bison Double, which meant I was running the 5k Friday night and the half marathon on Saturday morning. My husband and I decided to get up before dawn on Friday to see some of Yellowstone while the light was still good for photography. It was the right choice!

He was the only other guy on the road at 5:30 am. Also, he wasn’t moving for us.

Sadly, the Grand Prismatic Spring was too steamy to see.

Kepler Cascade

Yellowstone Lake and Thermal Vents

A real life postcard.

After a morning of exploring the park, we headed back to the hotel to take a nap and prep for the 5k. The weather forecast at race time was less than dry. I was volunteering at the race expo before the start, so I headed over a little early and met up with the rest of my team at the start. My husband, sisters-in-law, and their husbands all ran the 5k, and exactly none of us were looking forward to running in rainy drizzle and 42 degrees.

There’s some first timers in this pic!

The course was beautiful despite it being wet. I don’t have many pics of this race because the conditions made it hard to snap shots. We started on paved town roads for the first mile then transitioned to gravel trail riddled with puddles and mud for the rest of the race. We had to watch where we stepped so we didn’t slip in the mud. I’m glad I’d packed so much gear, options are so important when the weather is unpredictable. Plus I’d bought an emergency poncho for which I was so grateful! I was slow because of the conditions and I wanted to be sure I was okay to do the half the next morning. My husband and I crossed the finish, then waited for the rest of our team. We were disappointed to learn that the 5k medals had been lost in shipping, but we were assured that they’d be mailed to us once they were located.

The next morning, I woke up to a weather forecast calling for hail and more rain before the half marathon. Yes, hail. Well, tiny little pellets, but still, when they hit your cold cheeks, it hurts! I shook out my disposable poncho and layered up. With some fleece lined leggings, a Lioness skirt from Skirt Sports, and three layers on top, I was as ready as I could be for my first wet, cold trail half.

I knew this race was going to be my hardest one yet going into it. I knew the elevation gain was no joke, and that it was mostly on a trail. I also knew I wasn’t able to train for this race like I wanted to. Since February, I’ve had to focus on selling my house, moving, and finding a new place to live.  Doing all those home improvement projects did get me into better shape than I was in after the holidays, but I was no where near where I wanted to be for this race. Getting a PR wasn’t my goal, not getting hurt was. My strategy was to do walk a brisk pace with some splashes of running until the big hill. Then, I’d walk as briskly as I could up that bish.

Around mile five, it started to get steep. The course was still thick with mud, and I tried to stay on the edge of the trail to keep from getting bogged down. Mile six is where it started to get nasty. Hence my face in the photo below. It was yucky, but at least the sun had come out and the rain/hail stopped! Once I got over that hill, I found one of my Skirt Sports sisters on the course, and I couldn’t have been happier! Kim is the best. We’d run the Skirt Sports 13er together last year and running with her is always so much fun.

After I’d made it over the hill and found a friend, the race took on a new feel. The course turned technical with large rocks as we began to descend in elevation. I took my time through the rocks but still stumbled a few times. The views were completely worth it, though, as the course took us beside the river and through pristine forest.

As I was out there feeling better than I expected to be at mile nine, I took a moment to appreciate my body. I have ridiculous expectations of it. I ask it to do amazing feats of endurance without ever putting in the 100% training I should. As I climbed that hill and listened to those around me struggling to breathe due to the altitude, I sent my body some messages of gratitude and I promised to not ask it to do this again without the proper preparation.

We counted down the miles together, stopped for orange slices at the mile 11 aid station, and were fueled by the thought of our medals waiting for us. Unfortunately, the Bison Double medals and the Caldera Triple medals were lost in shipping along with the 5k medals. But we did get our half marathon medals, so it was great to have that waiting for us at the end along with the always yummy post race fuel box and bananas.

It hurt so much but we did it!

Kim and I hugged goodbye before I took a few family photos with our race team. I think some of them may have caught the race bug! I’m already planning to come back for the Caldera Triple next year, maybe we’ll make it a tradition!

It was a fabulous race in one of the prettiest places I’ve ever been. Aside from the medals being lost, everything went smoothly and we all had a blast. This race may not be an annual one for me due to traveling, but it’s certainly one I’d like to do every few years. Vacation Races didn’t disappoint, they really now how to pick their locations! It was so gorgeous everywhere you looked that I wanted to share a few last photos with you of your Yellowstone National Park.  Enjoy!

Elk buck

At the Grand Prismatic Spring

Bison herd

You could literally reach out your car window and touch them. But DON’T.

Half medal with Old Faithful erupting in the background

 

As a safety reminder, I ask that when you read my recaps of high altitude races to not underestimate the affects of altitude. I’ve lived at over 5000 feet elevation all my life, and soon I’m moving to 8500 feet. My lungs and muscles are acclimated to the elevation despite having asthma. If you do a race at altitude and you aren’t already acclimated, be sure to train appropriately, take precautions against altitude sickness, and be kind to yourself on the course if you don’t hit your pace goals.Save

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SPARK Crew at Ragnar PA

At the beginning of June, I embarked on an adventure that was a long time coming. RAGNAR, PENNSYLVANIA. 

Since I’ve known Cam, she’s been talking about participating in Ragnar Relays and finally, I was able to join her and 10 of our teammates at Ragnar PA. We’ll be writing about the experience as soon as we get our collective act together, but for now, I need to tell you about Momentum Jewelry’s SPARK Crew.

I’ve been a Momentum Jewelry fan since I first saw their wrap bracelets right around the time we began our blog in 2013. A few years ago I was fortunate enough to be chosen as a brand ambassador.

You will never find me without at least one (usually multiple) pieces of their jewelry somewhere on my person. The company’s mission is to inspire and motivate and encouraging you to “living your passion”; that’s something that the jewelry does for me on a daily basis.

It only stands to reason that when I first heard about Momentum’s SPARK Crew, I knew that it would be a great fit with Ragnar. For those of you who don’t know what a Ragar Relay is, it’s when a team of 12 people (or less, if you’re an ultra runner) do a 200(ish) mile relay from point A to point B. It’s about runner camaraderie and “a free-spirited desire to get out there and experience an outdoor adventure with friends.”

Passion, adventure, friendship? Check, check, and check!

My van mates and I decided that we would morph from Ninjas (our team’s theme) into our SPARK Crew gear just before leg 13 of the race.

It was getting close to dark on the first day and we knew that many people would need an extra boost to make it through the night hours. Our task as the SPARK Crew was simple: to share the SPARK(lets) and encourage our fellow runners.

Donning our bright green shirts, we approached folks left and right, handing out the SPARKlets. At first we all felt a little awkward walking up to people but that quickly dissipated once we saw how well received and excited runners were to get the “you got this” SPARKlets.

We briefly explained our mission and wound up having some great conversations along the way. Some teams even gave us little things in return (not at all what we were expecting!).

Proceeding to the next exchange and we continued to hand out SPARKlets there, along with holding on to a few for when we saw someone struggling or just looking like they needed a boost.

We cheered “you got this” out of our van windows to runners as we drove to our next exchange. It became our van’s mantra as we wound our way from the hills of Lancaster to the hills of the Pocono Mountains. Are you sensing a theme here?

If you thought I was kidding about the hills, Ragnar even shared 50 Photos that Show How Ragnarians Tackled the Hills of #RagnarPA on their site. The picture above makes an appearance! But seriously, look at those hills. Insanity.
I loved having the chance to make an awesome experience even more awesome for others. When we push ourselves to our limits, that’s when great things happen. Thanks to Momentum Jewelry and of course, my ninjas. Cam and I will be back more with Ragnar thoughts ASAP. And remember… you got this!

Road Tested: XX2i Bahamas1 Optics Sunnies (with coupon code)

Disclaimer: I received XX2i Bahamas1 Optics to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro, and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews! All opinions are my own and no compensation has been provided.

The summer is quickly approaching and with it, the end of school is less than a week away. As a stay at home mom, I have mixed feelings about this because while I’m able to get a lot more accomplished during the school year, I do love summertime with the kids.

The summer bucket list runneth over with fun activities we just don’t have the time, or weather, for during the school year. Lots of swimming in the pool, gardening, going to Six Flags Great Adventure (we have passes this year!), and hopefully lots more.

I feel like the past few months have been a whirlwind of activities and while I know that summer will be as much, if not more so, filled with things – I’m going with the thought process that they’ll be more enjoyable and less stress inducing.

About a month ago we were having a particularly stress filled week and I received a delivery from XX2i! It was the Bahamas1 Optics Sunglasses with tortoise frames. These sunglasses were a reminder to hang on, summer’s just around the bend.

XX2i are traditionally known for their sports sunglasses. Now, when I’m running I need to wear my regular glasses. It’s just a fact that if I want to be able to see and not trip, my vision needs to be 20/20.

However, the Bahamas1 are casual wear and therefore I can rock them when I’m throwing caution to the depth perception wind. Of course, before I could even put them on my face… the boys asked if they could try them.

Two thumbs up from the 12 year old. Lucas says, “I like how they’re brown inside and they’re comfortable. They’re stylish and look good… I look pretty rad with them, huh?”

Gabriel, age 8, says: “The clouds are orange. I like being able to look up at the sky without it hurting my eyes.”

What’s great about these is that even though they’re casual, they still have the polarized lenses which means that there’s little to no glare. I never had that with casual sunnies that I’ve owned in the past (although to be fair, many of my casual sunnies are the cheap ones from the drugstore).

Your eyes can actually sunburn and while I take great precautions when it comes to my skin, I never really thought about my eyes before. For shame! As I get older, I’m trying to get better about doing the little things to protect myself.

In the short month that I’ve had them I’ve worn them in Disney, at a Ragnar relay, and of course, in my yard.

Memorial Day weekend

My favorite time to wear my new sunnies is while I’m relaxing in and around my pool in the backyard. We opened our pool a few weeks ago and since then I’ve been outside nearly every day, whether it for vacuuming the pool, swimming, or the most necessary, being lifeguard/referee for the kids. (Next I need to get a whistle.)

The Bahamas1 are durable and while I try to treat my glasses with care, accidents do happen. These seem like they’ll stand up to the Daniel family lifestyle. However, if they get scratched or damaged, there’s a lifetime warranty!

Personally I’m a fan of the matte tortoise rims but there’s a few to choose from: crystal/black, matte black, and white/black. Which would you choose?

If you’re considering getting a pair of your own, code “xx2irocks” gets you 50% off purchases on XX2i.com. Sweet, right?

Also, mark your calendars! The Twitter BibRave #BibChat with sponsor XX2i is on June 20th! I’ll be there (@scootadoot) and they’re always a good time. Make sure to swing by and say hello!

Check out other BibRavePro reviews: Tedrick – Danielle – Angie – Matt – Vanessa -Nicole – Emily