William’s First Cardinals Game

William’s first Cardinals game was on July 4th.  It had been raining for the past several days, but seemed to let up a bit on the Fourth.  Sure enough, on our way down to Busch Stadium, the rain picked up again causing a rain delay.  We killed some time at the Science Center which was just as fun for William.  Finally, when it was almost game time, we made it to the stadium.  And who else to take William to his very first Cardinals game, but Yaya and Pops, of course!

cardinals first game july16

William was a champ and made it through seven and a half innings!  Yaya did a lot of entertaining as well as giving him a play by play of what exactly he was seeing.

cardinals game yaya july16

That was William’s face / answer to, “Are you having fun?” as he excitedly shouted YES!  The people behind us even commented how happy he was and how great he was doing at the game.

cardinalsshirt

William wore his very own personalized Cardinals shirt which was made by A Child’s Boutique.  Keri, the owner, is wonderful and said this is the most popular Cardinals design, but she can make any shirt / outfit.  This is who Stephanie always uses to make her kids’ personalized shirts.

William cheered for the Cardinals with Yaya and Pops.

cardinals clap

We had a fourth seat for him to sit on, but he mostly sat on laps.  The extra seat was nice to have a little extra space and it gave him some standing room.  In between innings, we either went down to the dugout to try and catch a ball or Yaya gave him Superman rides!

cardinals laugh

He was seriously so full of smiles and laughter the entire game!

cardinals game july16

Think he had fun?

cardinals game july16

Do you remember your first baseball game?

rainy day fun

Has it been raining continuously for what seems like forever in other parts of the country besides just St. Louis? Most unfortunately, throughout the entire Fourth of July weekend?  Well, my family always goes to Innsbrook (lake resort area just outside of St. Louis) for the Fourth and this year was no different, despite the rain.  We made the most of our time, even braving a constant drizzle just so we could watch the awesome fireworks show on the lake.

innsbrook fireworks july16

Since when do we have to bundle up for fireworks in July?!  Clearly someone still had a ton of fun and loved watching the fireworks!

We HAD to get out of the house, especially the kiddos, so what’d we do?  Gave everyone an umbrella and went for a walk!

innsbrook umbrellas july16

William made it for awhile before he needed a lift from momma.

umbrella july16

I think we both won the “best outfit” award.

Whenever the downpour let up even a little, the kiddos were quick to get outside.  Fishing was the highlight of the trip as William had been talking about it forever.  He would have fished all day and night if we let him!

innsbrook fishing july16

This was at 7:00 am in the morning.  Don’t worry, William didn’t really wear pajamas the entire trip. 😉

The kayaks were brought out for a short amount of time and William went with Yaya for his first ride of the summer!

innsbrook kayak july16

Pops taught the kids how to drive in the mule.

innsbrook pops mule july16

Audrey made sure to keep a tight arm around William the entire ride.  (And I was on the other side of him, as well.)  Audrey literally couldn’t keep her hands off William.

innsbrook aud kiss mule july16

smush face

I love my family.  That’s obvious.  So being cooped up in close quarters with them for a couple days (literally, thanks, rain) is really fun.  A lot of us squeeze in a few rooms to sleep.  This time it was my sister and I in the same room as our kids.  I brought William into bed with me in the morning to try to get him to sleep a little bit longer though he was already excited when he woke up and saw Stephanie’s dog Ellie on the bed.  Within a few minutes, an upside down head popped down from the top bunk.  “Jacob!”  William exclaimed excitedly.   Sleeping in whatsoever didn’t happen.  But the kids were happy to come in my bed and pretend to sleep for a little longer.

innsbrook sleep july16

Audrey: Let’s close our eyes, but still smile!

Big thanks to my parents for having us out at Innsbrook again.  They’re the best Yaya and Pops anyone could ever wish for!

innsbrook yaya pops july16

Seriously, they’re the best.  They do anything and everything for us.

Oh, and right before we left, I had to get outside and do my obligatory split jump by the lake photo while the rain had let up.

innsbrook split jump july16

I hope everyone had a great Fourth of July!

What’d you do for the Fourth?

oh the joys

Oh the joys of summer!  There are so many of them.  Yes, this will be another gushy “I love summer” post.  And today is July 1st?  That means I’m on my last month of summer vacation!  (Ok side note, I started this post last week – clearly – but didn’t have time to finish it this week.)  You better believe we’ll be living up every moment.  We’ve been crazy busy this summer in the best way possible.  Tons of time outdoors, play dates, get togethers with friends, nights out, activities, you name it.  Oh the joys of summer:

aud running june16

Running freely during an outdoor concert.  And if you want to see them dancing freely on stage at said concert, check out Stephanie’s Instagram (@scpstudio).

Meeting friends for lunch dates:

summer16

My hair takes five minutes to blow dry now and no flat iron required. That is AMAZING, especially for the summer!  Thank you again, Preston!

Play dates with friends:

wolf june16

William and Wolf have been playing together since they were babies, but now they’re actually playing together.  Here they were driving the bus to school with their chicken.

Going out with coworkers who have become the best of friends:

mck girls

Girls night outs are always the best, but especially when they don’t happen often enough! So much laughter!

More William and Audrey adventures:

aud sidepony june16

Audrey came over in the morning and needed her hair done.  She requested a side pony, so naturally William needed the same.

aud minipool june16

This mini pool is by far and away the best eight dollars I’ve ever spent at Target.

More play dates:

carly june16

These two lovebirds have been together since they were just a few months old.

Oh the joys of summer!

How have you been enjoying summer?

Blackberry Picking at Eckert’s

Something that must be on your summer to do list if you’re in or around St. Louis is Blackberry Picking at Eckert’s.  Eckert’s is a year-round farm located in Belleville, Illinois that has seasonal crops and a lot more to do than just picking blackberries.  Strawberry picking was earlier this summer, and peaches will be available next week.  William and I went on Sunday with my sister Stephanie and her two kids.

eckerts blackberries

Little did I know that there is so much to do at Eckert’s!  Of course there is fruit picking, but also vegetables and flowers.  There is a country store that is filled with all sorts of fun items.

eckerts2016

To get out to the fields where the blackberries were, we had to take a short tractor ride, which, of course, William was more than thrilled about.  He kept saying, “Bumpy ride!”

eckerts tractor

Then off to the fields we went!

eckertsblackberries

I tried to explain to William that blackberries start off green, then turn red, then finally black when you can eat them.  He liked picking the green ones best.

eckerts basket

This was the first time that he was really able to pick the fruit himself.  It’s so much fun teaching him how food grows from the ground and we can eat it!

eckerts picking blackberries

He really did look thoroughly to find the perfect blackberry to add to his basket.

eckerts 2016

It was a scorcher out there, but there were a few water stations in the fields where we were able to seek shade and hydrate.  After we’d had enough sun, we took the tractor back.  The whole farm is truly breathtaking and such a magnificent place to take photos.

eckerts lake

After we cooled off in the air conditioning, we went back out to explore some more.  On the weekends, there are pony rides, train rides, and carnival rides.

eckerts train

The train was William’s favorite.  Those two could have stayed on there all day.

William also liked playing put-put mini golf and finding bikes to ride.

eckerts bike

And for the first time ever, William rode a horse!

eckerts horse

I had tried before, but he was scared.  This time, he clasped tightly to the saddle with one hand and held on to me with his other.  He loved it!

After we spent a couple of hours doing all the fun activities, we were hungry for lunch.  The restaurant had a 30 minute wait, so we placed a to-go order and ate ice cream first.

eckerts ice cream

We heard no complaints from anyone about that!

all photos by stephanie cotta photography

It was a wonderful day at Eckert’s and I highly recommend making a day of it.  In fact, we may just go back next week for peaches!

Have you done any picking this summer?

easiest pot pies

Who loves comfort food?  <<raises hand>>  Maybe the real question should be who doesn’t love comfort food?  One complaint of comfort food that I hear often is that it’s not healthy.  Another popular complaint is that it takes too long to make.  Womp, womp.  Well, friends, I’ve got a solution for you today.  These are, by far and away, the easiest pot pies ever to make.  Yes, I said ever.  And they’re delicious.  And they come in the most perfect portions, so you don’t have to worry about overindulging.  One option is a beef pot pie made with garden vegetables and flaky pastry crust.

blakes beef pot pie

Want the recipe?  While I can’t quite give you that, I can give you the secret.  The secret is Blake’s.  Blake’s does all the hard work for you.  All you have to do is pop the pot pie in the oven (or microwave!), sit down, relax, and enjoy.  Their pies are made from scratch in small batches by wonderful happy people (not machine) and feature garden vegetables, potatoes, a savory signature gravy, and a flaky pie crust.  Home cooking has literally never been easier!

I’ve made these pot pies both in the oven and the microwave.  The microwave is easier, and I think they turn out great both ways.  I do like to pop it under the broiler for a few minutes to make the crust (best part) a bit crispier.  Blake’s pot pies come in beef or turkey, both the beef and turkey are raised without antibiotics.

blakes pot pie

Other noteworthy facts about Blake’s pot pies:

  • no antibiotics used
  • 0 grams trans fat
  • no artificial flavors
  • fed no animal by-products
  • no artificial colors
  • no preservatives

Yes, y’all, these are frozen meals.  No, I don’t rely on them for daily lunches or dinners.  However, sometimes I am in a pinch or sometimes I am craving something that I don’t feel like making.  That’s when Blake’s comes into the picture.  I feel good about eating these since there are only real ingredients used.  I also love how they are the perfect portions, so I don’t go crazy overboard with these delicious comfort food meals.  I try to compliment them with a fresh side, such as this kale salad I ate alongside the turkey pot pie.

blakes turkey pot pie

Blake’s pot pies are brand new and came to Meijer and Publix stores this month, with more to come over the summer and early in the fall including Sprouts and Acme.  There are many other organic, all natural, and family size meals that come in a variety of options.  Target, Walmart, Whole Foods, and local groceries are just some of the other stores that carry Blake’s.  (Check their store locator to see what’s by you.)  I always keep a few Blake’s meals in my freezer for those emergency, gotta have moments!

What’s your all time favorite comfort meal?  Mine is probably shepherds pie or macaroni and cheese, both of which Blake’s makes!

This post is sponsored by Blake’s.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

AMPLA Fly Your Run

HOLD THE PHONE, I’ve been running.  I know, I know.  How long have I been talking about getting my butt in gear?  Well, I’m doing it.  I’ve been running 3-4 times a week most of the summer.  I’m still only doing two miles each run and I’m having a really hard time getting past that.  I don’t know if it’s the heat, fear, or what.  Last spring, I ran a half marathon with barely any training, and the little running I was doing was just once a week!

You’d think since I’m keeping my distance the same, my speed would be improving.  Unfortunately, that’s not either.  But… I keep running!  For my excuses, I’m going to use the heat and a massive hill at the beginning of my run.  No, not to make excuses or anything, but I do think those factors play a role.  I run as early as I possibly can (accounting for William) and pretty much the first mile of my run is uphill with a giant hill right at the beginning.  It’s hard.  Though it is amazing on the mile run (mostly) downhill on the way back.

running ampla

While I’m frustrated my speed is not improving, I think my distance would / could improve if I just went for it.  It’d be nice if I had a running partner to push me.  (Any takers??)  At least I’m running consistently again; that feels good to me.

Recently I had the chance to try out a brand new running shoe – AMPLA.  New gear always makes running / working out more fun, so I was excited to give these guys a go.  My initial thought is that they are VERY springy!  They feel good to run in and have some distinct characteristics about them.  Ampla has quickly become a trailblazer of “firsts” both in design and business strategy.

Design
  • Full length carbon fibre Forcepower plate that guides foot strike and releases stored energy at toe-off
  • Actively uses a runner’s natural force during foot strike
  • Lightweight cushioning and a seam free Diamond mesh with micro-suede upper
Direct to Consumer Business Model
  • First premium shoe to implement a 100% direct to consumer model
  • No added marketing or sales commissions padding the price
  • Free returns within 30 days, no questions asked

ampla shoe

You can watch this video to learn more about these Ampla Fly Carbon Fiber Plated Shoes.  It features Harvard trained sports scientist, Dr. Marcus Elliot who talks about giving runners a mechanical advantage and getting some free energy based on the design of the shoe.  (Hey, I’ll always take free energy while running!)  The feel of them remind me of Newton’s, how the heel is elevated because of the toe box causing them to feel springy.  On me, these shoes come up a little higher than my other running shoes in the back.  It’s not a big deal, I just wear higher socks.

For additional reading material, check out how Sports Illustrated highlighted Ampla in their latest issue.  Read HERE.  The article discusses how these shoes can help correct running gait.

stop not running right

stop not running right // appropriate motto to support Ampla’s philosophy

What’s your favorite brand of running shoes?  Have you tried Ampla before?

*Disclaimer: I was provided this pair of running shoes free of charge in exchange of my honest review.  No compensation was provided. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Pinterest Craft Wins for Father’s Day 2016

If you know me, then you know I’m the least crafty person ever.  I’m a fourth grade teacher, but have awful handwriting.  If I need to write nicely, I need to write very slowly and make an intense conscious effort.  (I will say, I do have nice cursive, if I take my time.)  My mom is an artist through and through.  My sister got that gene, too.  They both have great creative eyes.  Not me.  Anyway, I’m proud to share some Pinterest Craft Wins for Father’s Day 2016 today!  You’ll see what I mean when I say I’m not crafty.  These Pinterest craft wins were made by my toddler, facilitated by me for the special guys in our lives.

fathersday16 dad

My dad, he’s just the best.  Seriously the best.  And can you see why I’m obsessed with my hair?  This was the first time after I washed it and it took me five minutes to blow dry, no flat iron needed!  Alright, now onto Father’s Day Pinterest crafts!

My dad, William’s “Pops”

fathersday16 pops

William, if there’s one person in the world who I want you to be exactly like, it’s your Pops.  My dad is the smartest, kindest, most selfless, hardest working person I know.  We joke that he’s perfect and never make mistakes and I follow closely in his lead.  He can fix anything and do anything.  In fact, no matter where we are, if something is broken, William tells me, “Pops, fix it!”  We sure love our Pops!

A close-up of Pops’ masterpiece:

craft footprint pops

Made up of four footprints, I had this piece matted.  When I saw it on Pinterest, it was really four separate pieces, but I knew we could squeeze it onto one.  William is very into all of these, fire engines, tractors, dump trucks, and race cars, so it was perfect!

My grandpa, William’s great-grandpa, “Papa”

fathersday16 papa

Papa is the athlete of the family and calls William his number one!  He’ll be fine-tuning William’s skills for all sports soon enough.  Papa’s biggest sport is golf and he’s won some impressive titles during his golfing days!  So his craft:

craft papa

You are the best Papa by par!  Heh, heh.  Hand prints for the grass, golf tees, and colored pom poms for the golf balls.

linking up with katie and erin 

My grandpa, William’s great-grandpa, “Poppy”

fathersday16 poppy

Poppy’s expertise is fishing, boats, and cars, just to name a few.  He tells William to hug him, “but not too tight!”  It’s so funny to hear him say this since they’re the same words we heard growing up.  It won’t be long before William goes to his first circus or rodeo with Poppy, just like I did!

craft poppy

Hooked on Poppy!  Footprint for the fishing pole and hand print for the fish.  William so beautifully helped color in the water.

See?  Even I could handle those crafts!  William LOVED making hand and footprints!  It was fun picking out crafts for each of these wonderful men.  To say William and I are both blessed to have them in our lives would be an understatement.  We love every minute we get to spend with them!

One more bonus photo from the weekend.  Audrey slept over and brought clothes that she knew William could match.  When I did her hair in the morning, she requested a side pony, so of course William wanted the same thing, as well.

aud matching june16

Are they the cutest twinsies or what?!  Possibly my favorite picture of them.

Are you crafty? Do you enjoy making things?

Friday Favorites

This should really be called “Thursday Favorites” instead of Friday Favorites since all the photos are from yesterday, but hey whatever.  Lots of bloggers do a Friday Favorites thing, so here we go.  And let’s not forget that this is the THIRD time I’m blogging this week!  Go figure, right after I write the post about why I’m struggling to blog, I do a halfway decent job this week. Hopefully I’m onto something!

So on Wednesday, I got the express keratin treatment at Preston Salon Spa.  My hair is super frizzy and the humidity in St. Louis is out of control.  I literally cannot even straighten my hair in the summer because it frizzes so much.  I don’t mind curling my hair, but I feel like I always look super done up or not put together at all if my hair is not curled and just thrown up.  Anyway, it’s been years since I’ve gotten a keratin treatment and last time I loved it and this time is no different.  I snapped this selfie at the Butterfly House which is very humid and my hair was still bone straight with no frizz!

keratin june16

And check out my blonde!  My stylist at Preston Salon Spa put tons of blonde in my hair a couple of weeks ago and then did the keratin treatment in my hair this week.  I love her!  Preston is definitely THE place to go to for hair in St. Louis!

William posed by a giant butterfly before heading in.

butterfly house june16

The Butterfly House was shorter lived than I anticipated.   William was pretty tired and didn’t understand that you couldn’t touch and kiss the butterflies and had to stay on the path.  He did fine while we were there, but it was definitely time to go once we made it through.

We went to my parents’ house afterwards for a couple of hours.  We had a blast, as always, but William fell asleep on the car ride home and woke up when I was transferring him.  I couldn’t get him back down which is never a good thing.  My boy needs his sleep!  So I needed to find a distraction and FAST.  Over to my sister’s we headed.

pbk chairs

Jacob and Audrey provided just the entertainment that William needed!  They stacked up their Pottery Barn Kids chairs to make a tower and all piled on top.  All fun and games until it crumbled.  Luckily, nobody got hurt!  We had a fun afternoon over there and did a million things.  We baked a cake, the kids played school, the boys played soccer, and Audrey took several selfies of her and William with my phone.

silly selfie june16

In every selfie, William was mimicking Audrey exactly.  Too funny!

And because we like to stay busy, we met our friends Julie and Wolf out for dinner at Five Star Burgers.  Julie and I actually went there last week and it was awesome.  I had ordered a mushroom and swiss burger that you can see on Instagram.  We went for their happy hour with our little ones because they have $1.50 sliders and sides (sweet potato fries!).  The boys wouldn’t quite cooperate for a picture (hello, two year olds!), so I’ll share a cute one I got of William walking around the fountain outside the restaurant.

walking happy june16

That’s one happy kiddo!

What are your favorites from this week (or yesterday)?

all in a day

Oh summer.  How I longed for you!  I couldn’t wait to have entire days filled of adventures with William.  And while I’m definitely loving and soaking up all this time with my little man, we have GOT to stay busy!  I am so not somebody who can stay in the house all day, not even all morning actually.  Everyday we find new activities to do, both in and out of the house.  We’ve had lots and lots of play dates.  The past two days we’ve had the pleasure of hanging out with Brittany and her two sweet kids!  On Monday we went to a pool and yesterday they came over.

playdate june16

William had a blast!  He was obsessed with this precious little girl.  He wanted to hold her constantly!  He’s been interested in babies in the past, but never for more than a few minutes.  He sang to her, rocked her, kissed her, patted her, literally wouldn’t leave her alone!  It was pretty stinking cute.  They’re going to have to make more regular visits.  Catching up with Brittany was great, too.  She’s one of those down to earth, tell it how it is kind of gals with a heart of gold and the kindest soul.

After they left, William was more than ready for a nap.  He took a decent nap, but was still pretty tired when he woke up.

yawn june16

Once he fully woke up, we played a bit more before heading to Yaya and Pops’ house.  William asks everyday if we can go to Yaya and Pops’ house.  He certainly loves them  – definitely the very best grandparents (and parents!).

Summer in St. Louis has officially begun; this means hot and humid weather!  Pops was watering the yard, and William just loves to help.  Pops taught him how to spray with a hose.

hose pops june16

After they played with the water, we went back to the pond.  Everyday, William pretends to go fishing at our house.  He has a cute magnetic fishing set that he plays with and he also pretends long sticks outside are fishing poles. So you can imagine his excitement when he and Pops actually caught a fish!

fish pops june16

Once everyone had enough sun, we went inside. William ate a snack while Yaya read to him and then they played with all the exciting toys at their house.  William challenged Yaya to an air hockey match.

air hockey june16

Miraculously, he scored against Yaya probably a hundred times.  Then he made Yaya switch sides with him another hundred times.  Yaya is a very good sport.

We came home, took another walk, ate dinner, bathed, read books, and then it was time for bed.  William had to get in a quick cuddle session with Zoey first.

zoey snuggle june16

We were all exhausted after our long day!

What has been filling your summer days?

Why I’m Struggling To Blog

The frequency of my blogging has decreased.  That’s no secret.  I used to be a religious Monday through Friday blogger, and for the past couple of months, it’s been a post or two a week.  It’s not that I don’t want to blog; I DO.  I really do.  I miss blogging, I miss writing, I miss having a routine, I miss the community.

It’s time.  That thing that always passes too quickly and we never have enough.

I’m pretty sure everyone can relate to feeling like there’s not enough time in the day.  It doesn’t matter what life stage you’re in or who you are, I bet you wish there was more time.  I know I do!  I used to blog every evening.  That was my routine; that’s what I did.  Well now, I just started sleep training (again) my little darling.  His bedtime is 8:00 pm, but it’s been taking him a looong time to fall asleep.

sleep june16

But when he does, isn’t he precious?

That means it’s close to nine o’clock before I can blog.  But let’s not forget that most days, when William sleeps this is my only chance to get other things done.  Important things, like showering.  Not to mention picking up the house, cleaning, laundry, eating, you name it.  So lately other things have been taking priority over blogging.  I really miss it though.  I have content I want to share.  I have recipes, workouts, reviews, daily life happenings, etc.

We’ve been visiting splash pads and pools more now that the weather is HOT in St. Louis.  William and I both love being outside, and I love it even more because it really wears William out and causes him to take nice, long naps!

carly june16

This is William and his girlfriend, Carly.  They were being so cute holding hands the other day during our play date!

linking up with katie and erin 

And sometimes life just gets in the way.  I love blogging, but sometimes (many times) life is more important.  I thought I’d have all this extra time now that summer is here, but really I’m just enjoying that time.  Take mornings, for instance.  I wouldn’t call them lazy because William would never let me be lazy, but they’re much more leisurely.  Instead of rushing around trying to get us both ready, we’ve been spending more time outdoors first thing in the morning when we let Zoey out.  William rearranges all the flower pots, uses sticks to go “fishing,” and listens to the birds sing.

smile chair june16

“No shoes on,”  William says as we open the door to let Zoey out.  Then he runs to the kitchen to get his Crocs which are his only shoes to fit over his pajamas.

Last night we picked up my parents from the airport and spent some time at their house.  William helped Pops workout by adding some extra weight to his plank!

pops plank june16

I’m not sure who thought it was funnier!

Yaya has always taught William a million new things each time she spends time with him.  Last night it was the game Hi Ho Cherry-O which she still has saved from when we were kids.  She was explaining to William how you put the cherries on the tree from the basket.  William put one on and shouted, “Did it!”  We laughed as he still had nine others to do.

yaya game june16

So even though I’m not blogging as consistently as I’d like, I’m here.  I do Instagram most days, so definitely follow me there at @itzlinz.  In the meantime, I’ll keep on working on this schedule thing.  And just enjoying life.  You should, too.

What’s been going on with you? Do you feel like you’re short on time?