Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Getting Fit

Somehow over the past 6 years I put on some extra weight.  It wasn't bad at all but I could just tell that I was getting soft.  I hadn't really changed that much in my eating habits but my exercise habits took a complete downward spiral once I graduated college and got married.

I was extremely active in college.  I was in the best shape of my life, I was strong, fit, and had some serious muscle tone going on.  I was always taking a PE class (swimming was my favorite) and if I wasn't at Cheerleading practice, the barn riding my horses or in my room watching America's Next Top Model or Gossip Girl then you could find me sweating it out hardcore in the gym.  I used all the machines, lots of free weights, and logged many hours there.  I sure did get my money's worth ;)  

I have always been somewhat active and figured with that fact I could just keep on eating how I always did. But then something happened, I would get on the scale and see a number that I was not happy with, I tried my best to get out and burn some more calories to offset what I was eating but that wasn't making a difference.  Then last May I decided I needed to do something and had seen some positive results from other friends doing the Bikini Challenge with the Tone it Up girls.  I signed up and started my workouts...but with a 3 year old and a newborn finding the time to get my workouts in was hard.  I stuck with it for a several weeks and loved how sore I was getting from the workouts but wasn't seeing as much of a difference as I was hoping for.

Then my dear husband showed me an App for my phone, the My Fitness Pal by Under Armour.  They have a huge catalog of foods and their calories/nutritional values as well as tracking how many steps you take.  Once you fill out your profile you can set goals and they will give you the recommended calorie intake for each day to help you achieve your goal. Y'all, I taught Health and Fitness for 5 years and I honestly didn't believe what a big role your eating habits and calorie intake played on maintaining/losing weight.  In one year I have lost 14 pounds and managed to keep it off.  I have lost these 14 pounds solely from changing my eating habits and being more aware of how many calories are in what I eat.  I stopped working out with the Tone it Up gals last June and really haven't done much more that walking an average of 6,000 steps a day.  I do all my other regular activities: like weeding, vacuuming and carrying my babies around.  I just can't believe what a difference those 14 pounds have made on my body image and how my clothes fit.  I actually weigh less than I did in College (and probably high school too) and I feel great!  I have met and surpassed my goal weight and I am enjoying ice cream, pumpkin pie, cakes, pasta and pizza.

Here are some comparison shots for you:

September 2015

June 2016

May 2017

I truly believe that your weightloss journey seriously is 80% of what you eat (or don't) and only 20% of the activity you do.

If you have any other questions I would love to answer them for you.  This post is completely unsponsored, I am just loving my results so I wanted to share them with you!!

♥ Ashley

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

{Travel Diaries} Victoria, BC with Kids

We do a lot of traveling and so far it has always been with our girls.  Traveling is something we love to do and want to share with our daughters but we don't want to miss out on all the fun stuff because they are along for the ride with us.  When we travel we make sure to incorporate some fun kid friendly activities as well as some down time to allow for them to either nap or stay a little longer somewhere due to their enjoyment.

When visiting Victoria, BC I was most looking forward to Butchart Gardens but we knew we needed to find some more kid activities.  Thankfully just a few blocks from the downtown area is a giant park, Beacon Hill Park, that has lots of walking paths, gardens, wildlife, and a playground.  It's an easy walk from downtown so we made a couple of trips there during our stay.

(just across the street from Beacon Hill Park was a small school yard...Ellie spotted it so we made a detour.  I forgot that we were there during the week and accidentally joined in one of the classes for their recess but they were so kind to let Ellie play with them and the teachers encouraged us to stay and play!  Ellie had fun playing "bump" on the slide, playing, tag and digging in the sand with her new friends.)

The playground at Beacon Hill Park had two play structures, swings, and other climb on toys.  Ellie was totally in her element and Finnley had a blast swinging and crawling all around.

The walking trails in the park boasted some great city views while having a super cool wild terrain.

Another one of our favorite spots to take the girls was to Indigo/Chapters a bookstore chain in Canada.  I loved looking at all the home decor and the girls had a blast in the children's department.  We had so much fun that we stopped in multiple times throughout our stay in Victoria and neither girl was ever ready to leave ;)

We also did a lot of walking around and sightseeing.  Ellie enjoyed going into all the tourist shops and got a big kick out of this Bear Mountie, right after I snapped this picture she screamed and yelled "ahh it's a bear and he's going to get me!!!"  The imagination on these kiddos is something else.

We happened by a fire station near Beacon Hill Park and they had an old fire engine on display in the window on the right.

Walking the grounds at the British Columbia Legislature building was a great activity.  They had plaques up where you could read the history of Victoria as well as statues that Ellie had fun checking out.  Not to mention the grounds were beautiful and I enjoyed the sunken rose garden.

And finally another great stop is the Royal BC Museum.  It's perfect for inclement weather (or when it's ridiculously hot outside - like anything above 75 ;))  There was so much to look at and explore.  Not only did they have animal exhibits but they had a huge area dedicated to the First Nations.  Additionally they had my favorite part of museums: Old Town where they recreated Victoria circa 1890-1900, complete with a hotel, retail shops, a livery, and a small section of Chinatown.  You could peer in the windows and walk through some of the exhibits and that is just my kind of thing.  Ellie and Finnley had a great time exploring and walking (crawling) around checking all the things out.  Ellie's favorite part was the boat and the gold mining - she was really able to stretch her imagination and get some role playing, though she pretended the boat was a Pirate Ship...

The girls had so much fun on our excursions to all the kid friendly spots that Finnley was able to catch some sleep in the stroller!  Always a win ;)

Have you ever been to Victoria?  What is your must do when traveling with kids?

♥ Ashley

Want to learn more about our trip to Victoria?  Check out Where to Eat in Victoria.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Friday Roundup - the beginning of Summer!

Happy first Friday of Summer y'all!! I can't believe how quickly time is just flying by!  Now it's officially Summer (as of Wednesday) and the livin' is easy.

We've kept ourselves quite busy this week and I cannot complain.  I've crossed off many things from my "To-Do List" (that's actually never ending and has repeat offenders almost daily - I'm looking at you vacuuming) and I couldn't feel more accomplished about it.

Speaking of that To-Do list let me tell you about my vacuum. 
As some of my older readers might know we replaced our lovely cream colored carpet from 1989 in our open living area back in 2015 and then more recently this April we replaced the same carpet in our bedrooms, we now have no carpet in home and just have wood floors, with the exception of a jute rug in our living room and some area rugs in the girls bedrooms (Ellie's, Finnley's).  Since 2015 I've been using our electric broom to do all of my vacuuming since our big vacuum was terrible on the bare floors and spit everything out behind the vacuum.  It was a chore in itself and I had move the plug for every room.  It did a decent job at sucking up the dog hair and rice crispies but I've been wanting something that does a better job.  I picked up this vacuum last week to try out since the one I wanted was sold out and Y'all, I got it because they called it a hardwood hero, I hated it.  The suction was great on it but I had to carry the canister around with one hand all over our house and it was just cumbersom.  So I returned it.  I made my way to a different Target and they had this vacuum in stock (only two left).  I have been wanting a Dyson for forever and I couldn't believe my luck.  They are currently having this model on closeout right now and it's only available "in store" so I couldn't use my beloved Ebates...but it turned out to be an even better deal!! In store they were selling it for $199.98 (a full $100 off the internet price) and with my 5% redcard discount I got a Dyson for like $189!  That is unheard of.  I've been using it every day since and I love it!!  Totally worth it.

On Wednesday we kicked off Summer with a visit to the Splash Pad.  Ellie loved it and Finnley was just fine until she got wet...not surprising.   Ellie saw one of her school friends there and just wanted to play with him the whole time, meanwhile I was trying to hold a conversation with my friend we met up with there as Finnley kept beelining it out of the spray park.  We had a fantastic time and both girls slept for over 3 hours!!  We might have to make visits to the Splash Pad a weekly occurrence this Summer.

Finnley has been a walking machine and is walking about 90% of the time now, she prefers to hold her little bunny (or any object for that matter) as she walks around and it just warms my Mama heart.  She's been getting so much more comfortable walking and I am loving it so much. I can set her down now and she will stand or start walking around and my back is so thankful for that.

Thomas' little brother has a boat, so we took advantage of the beautiful weather we're experiencing right now and took it out on the lake.  Ellie loved it so much, she got to "fish" and drive the boat around...we are going to have to work on her driving skills some more.  Finnley hated the life jacket and was just a crying monster the whole time it was on, once we took it off her she was happy as a clam...little turd.

We were driving in the car the other day and Ellie asked me if I missed my mom.  I said yes and then it got me to thinking about how hard it is to do this motherhood thing motherless,  all these questions I have and things I want to say to my mom.  But also about the relationship I had with my mom and how much I desire to have a more open and communicative relationship with both Ellie and Finnley.  I plan to write a post in the near future all about that so stay tuned!

Happy Summer Y'all!!

♥ Ashley

linking up here

Monday, June 19, 2017

Weekending - the last of Spring, Father's Day and Birthday edition

I am completely bewildered at how we just finished up the last official weekend of Spring!! We're headed into the homestretch this week with it being the last week of school for Thomas and then we get to spend the Summer together as a family.  I love this life.

I mentioned on Friday that I love Spring because all my favorite peeps have birthdays.  Well Thomas and I celebrated his birthday for the 12th time together on Friday and it was so special having our two girls with us.  We met Thomas for lunch and then he spent the afternoon with the girls.  I can't think of anything better.  We went out to pizza for dinner and sang Happy Birthday when we got home while he blew out the candle in his birthday Pumpkin Pie.  He truly is the man of my dreams!

Saturday we got up early (no surprise there) and headed into our town for a delicious breakfast of Eggs Benedict, homestyle fries and a side of bacon!  It did not disappoint but we want to try something new on the menu next time since it all sounds so yummy.  Then we made our way to the farmer's market - which was getting a slow start to the day so the girls played on the playground for a bit.  When the market still was not open we made our way to Costco to get some essentials (toilet paper and hummus) then back home so Thomas could get ready for his High School graduation.  It's been a while since I've shared a photo of our flower bed and I wanted to make sure and document all the peony glory before they're done blooming.  I have 10 plants in all and they are all my favorite ;) While Thomas was gone the girls napped and did some cleaning around the house (#storyofmylife) then we headed out to get a new vacuum, because my current situation is a bit ridiculous.  I'll let you know how I like it after I use it for a while.

Sunday morning also started out pretty early.  We had some breakfast, played a bit and then got ready to go see Cars 3 for Father's Day!!  Thomas truly is the bees knees when it comes to parenthood and being a girl dad.  He totally rocks it.  He is kind, gently, and nurturing while still being tough, and fun with a side of wild.  I always knew he would make a great dad and I am so glad we get to do this parenting thing together.

Ellie and Finnley's behavior during the movie left lots to be desired (but that's probably what happens when you show up an hour early) but the movie was so cute.  I think that it was my favorite Cars movie to date (definitely way better than Cars 2) and I'm so glad we had a chance to watch it.  Surprisingly the theatre wasn't very full despite it being opening weekend.  We've decided that the next movie we go to as a family will not be opening weekend...that way we won't have to show up so early to get prime seats ;)  After the movie we went out to eat at Red Robin and then off to the park.  Parks have gotten a whole lot better now that Finnley is walking.  She is climbing up on everything so she needs a helicopter, but the fact that she is moving around and walking on her own is just the best!  Good timing too since we're nearly into Summer and will be frequenting parks a lot!

we then headed home for naps.  Thomas cleaned his car, I worked with my horse and did some weeding.  All in all a very fun weekend!

Happy Monday Y'all!!

♥ Ashley