Sante Fitness and Wellness GIVEAWAY

A couple of weeks ago I had the awesome opportunity to participate in a rooftop twilight yoga session at the Chase Park Plaza in St. Louis, hosted by Sante Fitness and Wellness, with other local influencers and friends.

yoga-chase-group

All photos in post taken by local photographer Megan Magray.

The view was spectacular, the yoga was relaxing, and the entire experience was perfect.  I love love love being outside, and I definitely don’t make enough time in my life for yoga.  It was fun to see a couple of familiar faces, Clare and Katie, who I hadn’t seen in awhile.

clare katie

We reconnected and took obligatory blogger photos together.

linking up with healthy diva life

Our hosts really went all out for us. They provided a lovely spread of fruits and vegetables, had refreshing cucumber water, made delicious smoothies that are offered at Sante (the “thinny mint” was the best!), and ensured each detail was attended to for making our visit unforgettable.

santewellness

Sante Fitness and Wellness focuses on Fitness, Wellness, and Balance for their members.  They have state-of-the-art fitness equipment, wifi, complimentary locker service and covered parking.  Their facility is exquisite and spacious with 18,000 square feet.

It was the perfect night for yoga.  It was a clear evening with temperatures celebrating the end of summer and the beginning of fall.  We had time before yoga began to enjoy the views, stretch out, and chat with one another.

chase-rooftop

The energy was casual and relaxed, just as yoga should be, and our instructor from Sante, Ashley, did a great job feeding off the mood.  She let us know this would be an average yoga class; it was fine for beginners, and more advanced yogis had the options to take the poses to the next level.

yoga-rooftop

Being so busy with the beginning of school, yoga felt particularly good to be able to focus on nothing more than breathing, stretching, holding poses, letting go mentally, and taking in the beautiful scenery.  It was just what I needed!

yoga-pigeon

As class continued, the sun was setting which was magnificent from the rooftop.  Apparently Sante Fitness and Wellness hosts rooftop classes every month, and not just yoga either!  Spinning is another option that would be a lot of fun to take.  For my participation in the event, I received a free week at Sante. I’m trying to figure out a good time to utilize it, so I can go a few times.  There are additional group fitness classes that they offer that I’d love to try including yoga, pilates, kettlebell, cycle, aqua, and more.  The facility is beautiful and they have a few different membership options, as well as student rates.

sunset-chase

Our view on the rooftop by the end of yoga.

One lucky Itz Linz reader will win a one-month Gold Membership at Sante Fitness and Wellness at the Chase Park Plaza.  All you have to do to enter is leave a comment on this blog post telling us why you want to try Sante (mandatory).  Additional optional entries include:

Be sure to comment on this post to have the extra entries counted!  This giveaway will be open until Thursday, October 6, 2016 at 8:00 pm CST.  A winner will be chosen at random and announced on Friday, October 7, 2016.  Winner must be a local resident, age 18 or older, and be able to redeem membership by 12/31/16.

Congrats to Drew! Enjoy your month at Sante!

Disclaimer: Through my partnership with ALIVE Influencer Network, I was provided the yoga class and one week to Sante free of charge.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

friends are important

Friends are important. All the time, no matter who you are, how old you are, what stage of life you’re in, how long you’ve been friends, or how the friendship developed; the bottom line is: friends are important.  Friendships develop very early on, but just because you grow older, they don’t stop.  Friends change, just as people do, but true friendships last no matter the time that goes in between seeing or talking or the distance that may keep you apart.  I have friends that I’ve known my entire life and also friends that I’ve made in the last year.  I have friends from my childhood, high school, college, previous jobs, current coworkers, playgroup, etc.

As I was scrolling through the photos in my phone, I was smiling remembering the time spent with my friends throughout these past couple of months when I wasn’t blogging and thought today was a good day to share some of these snapshots.

steph sara julie

On Saturday night, a few of us had an impromptu girls night out.  I picked up my sister Stephanie on the way out, and as she entered my car, she said noticed, “Do we have the exact same outfit on?!”  Not planned!  Then, when we met Sara and Julie out, we saw their outfits were almost identical, as well.  Not planned either.  Friends who stick together dress the same?  Or something like that.  We had a wonderful evening, talking, and laughing until there were tears in our eyes.

mck-gno

I’m lucky in that I get to teach with ladies who have become some of my closest friends.  It’s funny to spend over 40 hours a week with each other during the school year, and then not see them very often over the summer.  We planned a couple girls night outs, so we didn’t go the entire two months without!

caitlin july16

Caitlin and I met when we were 15 hostessing at First Watch.  Despite going to different high schools, colleges, and living in different states the last ten years, we’ve remained close as ever.  Now that Caitlin is back in St. Louis, it’s like we were never apart, and we get to have as much fun now (or more?) than we did when we were 15!

linking up with katie and erin 

mara rachel julie steph jen

When I became a mom, I knew I wanted to join a playgroup to be able to connect with other women going through the same thing I was.  Little did I know, these girls would become some of my closest friends.  Two and a half years later, we continue to plan play dates, celebrate special occasions, share / question / discuss the ins and outs of being mommas to our littles.

caitlin heather angel

Another amazing thing about friends is when friends from different areas of your life get together.  These were some girls during my birthday celebration and they only know each other through me.  We had such a fun night and everyone got along great.

julie mara sara jen

Maintaining and making time for friends can be challenging.  Everyone is busy, so putting in time and effort is required.  It’s not to say that you’re not friends with those who you may not speak with on a regular basis.  I have many friends who we have phone dates every so often or we see each other maybe just once a year due to location, but it’s always as though no time has passed.  Friendships are strong and I’m grateful to have so many important friendships in my life.  Obviously, many of my friends are not pictured in this post, but looking through past pictures was a nice reminder of how I’m surrounded by loving, smart, caring, and inspiring ladies.

In a time where the world can be a scary place, friends (and family) are more important than ever.  Reach out to those you love and keep in touch! 🙂

back to school 2016

School has been in session for about a month now, so I thought I should finally get around to blogging about it.  Blogging has obviously taken a bit of a hiatus recently.  I’ve missed it but have had little motivation to blog, if that makes sense.  I miss writing, I miss sharing tidbits of our lives, and I miss being held accountable for living a healthy(ish) lifestyle to post about.  Last night I decided was as good of a time as any to get started again.  Right when I opened up wordpress, it felt as though I never “left.”  I’m excited to start blogging on a somewhat regular basis again.  I’m not exactly sure what that will look like, but more than once every month or so, for sure.

(Over the weekend I blogged about a sweet and salty fall trail mix that I did for Brach’s, in case you missed it.)

Let’s talk about back to school 2016.  Summer flew by, as always, and the new school year approached quickly.  William is almost two and a half now.  Little man on the first day of school:

first day of school aug16

How is he already acting embarrassed of his momma taking first day of school photos?  Baby, this is just the beginning, so you better get used to it!  We actually took a photo the first few days of school, and you’ll see he was all smiles for those.  William is thriving at school!  He has been at this same place since he was a baby, so he’s definitely familiar which is a good thing for him.  He’s been with most of the kids in his class for a couple of years, too.  It puts me at ease knowing he is at a place where he is so well taken care of and learning everyday.  It’s even more fun now that William is talking so much, since he can tell me specifics about his day!

The beginning of my school year is going well, too.

first day of school 2016

I’m teaching fourth grade for the fourth year in a row and am at the same school I’ve been at for eight years.  I love love love the school and my team.  Nichole, Kristen, and I are just missing Maggie who is still on maternity leave.  It’s hard going back to work after having summer off, but there’s nobody else I’d rather spend it with than these gals!  And my darlings this school year are pretty great, as well.  The beginning of the school year is always so refreshing and I really enjoy getting to know my students and building the community in our classroom.

William has turned into a real little boy.

school aug16

When I call him a baby, he tells, “Not baby, Mommy.  I’m a big boy!”  Oh, be still my heart.

Most days, he’ll smile for a photo for me before walking into school.  Some days he even requests that I go in the picture with him.

smile aug16

I’ll never say no to that!

William went through a phase where he was bringing his sunglasses into school.  Later, I found out he was literally wearing them all day long.  Silly baby.

sunglasses aug16

He’s just so darn cute!

Life is good for me and William.  We’re crazy busy now that school is back in session, but we’re finding our balance and getting into our routine once again.  And we’re happy.

smile sept16

We’re so happy.  Because life is good.

What’s been going on with YOU? I’ve missed hearing from all of you!

sweet and salty fall trail mix

This sweet and salty fall trail mix is the perfect treat for when the weather begins to cool, the leaves start to change colors, and pumpkins begin appearing every time you turn.  Heck, this sweet and salty fall trail mix is good any time of year, but it’s especially festive in the fall.  How ’bout that?

sweet salty fall trail mix

When Brach’s candy corn miraculously make their way to store shelves letting the general American public that Halloween is near (just two months away), it’s no surprise that a bag (or eight) make it home with me.  However, I’ve always been a big believer in practicing moderation.  So instead of downing the whole bag in one sitting, I mix the sugary goodness with a few other items.  Then, it takes longer for me to finish my stash and run back to the store for more.  Genius, I tell ya.

sweet salty trail mix

This particular sweet and salty fall trail mix has the perfect combination of sweet and salty and chewy and crunchy to satisfy any and all cravings.  Brach’s has a “mellowcreme autumn mix” bag that is seriously the best of every world.  It has regular candy corn, chocolate candy corn, and those cute little pumpkins.  So much goodness in one bag.

fall trail mix

Sweet and Salty Fall Trail Mix

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups popcorn
  • 1 cup pretzels
  • 1 cup Brach’s mellowcreme autumn mix
  • 1/2 cup dry roasted peanuts
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Directions:

  • Combine all ingredients.
  • Store in an airtight container.

sweet and salty fall trail mix

That, my friends, is how we kick off fall in the sweetest way possible.

What’s your favorite part about fall?

Macy’s Back To School Shopping Party

How is school starting already?!  I know, I know, I can’t complain too much since I, as a teacher, actually get summers off to enjoy,  but still!  I know my other teacher friends and mommas sending kiddos back to school feel my pain here!  I’m back in my classroom today unloading boxes, putting up bulletin boards, writing on name tags, and getting everything organized for the upcoming year.  While I have been cherishing every moment of summer, the new school year does bring lots of excitement, as well.  I’m not ready to leave my William to go to work again, but seeing the faces of my new students eager to learn does make me feel good.

Luckily, this awesome Macy’s Back To School Shopping Party is here to make the end of summer a little more fun.   William and I will be attending the St. Louis event since our clothes during the summer are a bit more casual than school. 😉

running july16

William will need something a little more substantial to wear to school, even though his ‘smile’ onesie is too cute.  And even more so with his curls flying while he runs full force through the neighborhood at 7:00 am!

So what exactly does the Macy’s Back To School Shopping Party consist of?  Well, clearly Macy’s wants you to do your back to school shopping at their store, but they’re going to make it way more fun than usual.  It’s 90’s themed (OH YES!) and they’ll have beauty makeovers, they’ll give styling tips, and they’ll show you all the new fashion must haves!  There will also be some sweet treats and a photobooth, which you know William and I will be all over! And… it’s a FREE event!

The St. Louis Macy’s Back To School Shopping Party will be held on Saturday, August 6, 2016 at 2:00 pm at the West County Mall.  But, there will be these events nationwide, so be sure to find out when it’s coming near you!  (See a full list HERE.)

I’ll be bringing along my own personal fashionista.

steph july16

My sister Stephanie.  I’ve been stealing borrowing her clothes since they 90’s, so it only makes sense I bring her to this event.  I’m sure she’ll pick up a few back to school outfits for Jacob and Audrey, too.  (Though the real reason I’m bringing her is so she can tell me what to buy.  Obviously.)

Here’s the official photo for the event:

macysbts

So I guess overalls are back in?  See?  I know nothing about fashion or “what’s in.”  I’m always late to the game in that department and sometimes never hop on the latest trends.  Hopefully Stephanie and the style experts at Macy’s can help guide me in the right direction.  For now, I’ll leave William to be the one sporting overalls until I can get some more clarification.

william 2 years old

St. Louis friends, I hope to see you there!  (HERE is all the information & details!)

Is school starting soon for you or your kids?  Are you ready?!

This post is sponsored by Everywhere Agency on behalf of Macy’s; however, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

introducing kidzxplor

Moms!  (And nannies and grandmas and aunts and friends and anyone else who is a caretaker for a kiddo or anyone who needs the best gift ever!)  I have literally discovered the coolest thing for kids and moms alike.  You all know me.  You know how active I like to stay.  Especially during the summer when we have more free time than usual, I’m always looking for new and exciting activities and events to bring William to.  We’ve done our fair share of exploring St. Louis this summer, but it just got easier and less expensive, believe it or not.

Introducing kidzxplor!

kidzxplor

kidzxplor is a simple way for parents to expose their children to exciting new activities and experiences, like art, music, fitness, open play, cooking and theater, all included in a low monthly membership fee. This web and app-based service allows a member to book classes with no long term commitment, when you want it, helping you to unlock your child’s passion and potential.

I love signing up William for various classes and events around town, but let’s be real.  That can add up very quickly!  Not to mention hidden membership costs on top of the fee of each class!  This is one of the reasons kidzxplor is so amazing and so worth it.  You pay $99 per month (and siblings receive a reduced rate of $59 per month!) and receive unlimited classes for the many businesses that have partnered up with kidzxplor.

As a BETA tester, I received a few classes free of charge, but next summer, you better believe I’ll be signing up for all three months I’m off school.  Since I’m a working mom, I probably will not sign up throughout the year, especially while William is so young, just due to time restraints as we would probably only be able to do one class a week (on the weekends).  However, as William gets older and is able to stay up later and more classes become available, it is definitely something I would consider.  However, in the summer or for stay at home moms, I cannot recommend it enough!

So far, we’ve done two classes.  The first was at Gymboree which is a kid’s gym.

gymboree july16

During the class, there was plenty of time for free play on the equipment, but there were also parts that were structured and led by a teacher.  Gymboree really encourages imaginative play, so the kids pretended to ride a horse, have a horse tail, and feed the horse.  (Obviously, horses were the theme of the day.)  It was fun to see William use his imagination.  His “horse tail” kept falling off, so he was constantly checking to make sure it was still there.  So funny!  Usually with Gymboree (and other gym classes), you have to pay a membership fee on top of the cost of class.  Plus, you commit to every week, and if you need to cancel you have some restrictions for rescheduling.

Kidzplor is awesome because you can check out a place like Gymboree without paying the membership fee and without committing.  Of course if you end up loving it, you are more than welcome to sign up on your own, or you can do a few classes each month while still maintaining your non-committal schedule.  Even better, you can sign up for a class through kidzxplor as soon as two hours prior to the class starting.  So one Sunday when we had no plans, I checked the schedule and saw Gymboree was available early in the morning.  It was perfect to get out of the house, stay active, and have fun!

Another place we checked out thanks to Kidzplor is Little Fishes Swim School.

littlefishes july16

Little Fishes has been our favorite so far!  They have three salt water pools and teach kids to swim.  William and I do the classes together right now until he is able to master a few skills; then he will level up and be in the water on his own with the instructor.  William is usually VERY clingy to me in the water, but did AWESOME during his first class!  He was swimming to and with his teacher, jumping off the side to him, and was smiling the whole time!

At William’s age, Little Fishes mission is to get kids to be comfortable in the water and teach them basic skills, so they are able to stay safe in the water.  Most likely, we will be signing up for classes to Little Fishes on our own.  If it weren’t for kidzxplor, I’m not sure we ever would have tried a class or made the commitment.

Right now, kidzxplor is launching in St. Louis on August 1, 2016.  Soon, it will be launching in other cities nationwide.  Be sure to like the kidzxplor Facebook page to stay up to date on information, see when new partnerships are made, and to learn when kidzxplor is available elsewhere!  Mommas in St. Louis, you HAVE to sign up for kidzplor in a few days.  I cannot recommend it enough!

What activities are your child involved in?

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?