William’s First Flight

William’s first flight was last Wednesday as my family traveled from St. Louis to Cleveland for my little brother’s wedding.  While I was a little nervous bringing my almost three month old on the plane, I’m happy to report he did great!  But I’m so not surprised; William is seriously the best baby ever. I’m working on a “tips for flying with a baby” post as I took several suggestions from my mom and sister to make the trip as seamless as possible.  For now, some pictures from William’s first flight experience.

We got to the airport around 7:15 in the morning with lots of stuff.  Two large bags to check, one carry on, a stroller, car seat, diaper bag, and baby.  Then we saw this pretty lady who had beat us to the airport with her husband and two kiddies.


Starting off the trip with a sister selfie.  Typical.

Followed by an Audrey selfie shortly after.


My mom was there, and like always, a HUGE help with baby William.

mom airport

Jonny and Jacob entertained themselves by being best buds, hanging out, and throwing up the U sign.

jonny jacob

I failed to get a picture of my dad, Poppy, Mama, Papa, or Phil.  But they were there, too.  It was a family flight, y’all.  The very best kind!  Quick funny story: the plane we were on was very small and all of my family members were in nearby rows.  Right when we landed, Jacob stood up on his seat and with the biggest smile announced, “We have arrived in Cleveland!  Hello, Yaya!  Hello, Mama!  Hello, Poppy!” (and to everyone else he could see)  Hilarious!

Eventually, we boarded the plane and I had William asleep in my ring sling.


My mom sat next to me, so naturally we had to do a plane selfie of the three of us.

mom plane

Jacob was a row in front and Audrey a row behind me and they kept peeking their heads through to talk to me and William.  It was adorable.

jacob audrey

William woke up mid-flight, and after I nursed him, Stephanie demanded I pass him back.


Another William selfie for the books!

Check out this awesome picture Stephanie took of Audrey peering out the window:


William’s first flying experience was a positive one! I’m grateful for all the help my family always gives us!  Here’s one last picture of him on the plane with his growing cheeks:


He’s a champ!

Do you know what your first flight was? I think mine was to visit my cousins in Houston.

Puerto Vallarta Wedding

Thanks for all your well wishes on my post from yesterday.  I’m definitely starting to feel better.  Still coughing a lot, but on the mend, for sure.  And when I look back at pictures from the weekend, I can’t help but smile as my brother’s Puerto Vallarta wedding was just absolutely beautiful.  Not just the beach, the ocean, the sunset, but truly the coming together of two people, two families so in love and ready to start this new chapter in their lives together.  While there’s probably over a thousand pictures from the weekend, I’ll leave you with a few favorites to bring a smile to your face on this lovely Friday.

beautiful sunrise, palm trees, & ocean waves

sunrise mexico

jonny, me, & baby itz – LOVE

jonny linz

my dad and poppy – two very handsome, intelligent men – and my little stinker brother justin photobombing in the background

poppy dad

jason & amy’s new blended family with three smiling children

jason amy family

the remaining photos were taken by the infamous Stephanie Cotta Photography

the bride & groom’s first look

jason amy wedding

jason & amy – so happy, so in love, so beachy

jason amy

my wonderful parents who are still so obviously happy and in love after 35 years

mom dad

two gorgeous beach babes

jacob audrey beach

and me with my baby bump during another beautiful sunset

linz beach

plenty more photos to come… including a maternity beach session!

Where’s the most beautiful place you’ve ever been?

Phoenix Hot Chocolate Race & Weekend

Well happy Monday and how’s the weather where you are, friends?  Like I mentioned Friday, St. Louis got our first snow over the weekend, but Jonny and I were in sunny and warm Arizona where you’d think it’d be nice and toasty.  Not so much the case surprisingly, but the weekend was marvelous nonetheless. Linking up to Healthy Diva’s Marvelous in my Monday today.  

Because I had so many referrals to the Hot Chocolate race (THANK YOU!), I was able to travel to a destination in addition St. Louis to do the race.  Since my brother and Jonny’s brother both live in Arizona, it was a no-brainer to choose the Phoenix race.  The Hot Chocolate team kindly put us up at the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Gainey Ranch which was absolutely beautiful.

hyatt arizona

It was truly a wonderful hotel – the kindest staff, clean rooms, and gorgeous views as you see in the picture above that Jonny snapped during one of his morning walks.  We didn’t get to enjoy any of their many outdoor amenities, but that’s alright.  Alright, I’ve got so much marvelous to share from the weekend, let’s get started!

Justin recently bought a house, and this was the first time we got to see it.  Itz awesome though we didn’t expect anything less.  The coolest part is definitely the orange trees and lemon tree he has in his backyard!  I picked a whole basket and ate several oranges and drank fresh lemon water all weekend.

arizona lemon orange trees

Totally jealous.  When we arrived in town on Thursday evening, Becca and Robbie picked us up from the airport and Jonny and I grabbed dinner from My Big Fat Greek which is always a favorite when we visit.  During the day on Friday, everyone was at work, so we hung around and took some walks in the chilly weather.  Friday evening is when we met up with Justin, and the five of us went to Tommy V’s for dinner.  It had a nice ambiance, and we all enjoyed the food (especially the Kobe meatballs we got as appetizers!).

robbie becca

Robbie and Becca are getting married February 2015!

On Saturday, Justin and I picked up our Hot Chocolate race packets which included the performance fleece hoodies.  The hoodies were really nice and it was cool that the expo had an area for you to try on the hoodie and exchange the size if necessary.  And we obviously enjoyed a mini cup of hot chocolate at the expo!  Later, the five of us went to Blue 32 Sports Grill to watch the Mizzou football game (which sadly did not end in our favor), but it was a fun sports bar.  There were a million tv’s and the grub was tasty.

The boys were drinking and were pretty tired four hours later when the game ended, so we laid low Saturday night and ordered takeout from Tottie’s Asian Fusion.  We laughed since itz not typical pre-race fuel, but we weren’t too concerned.  Sunday morning came which meant – RACE DAY!  Justin and I bundled up.

justin hot chocolate race

Since I’m still not running, I would be walking the race which meant I had on extra extra layers.  The race was well organized and we never felt like we were extremely crowded.  Justin is not a runner; instead, he’s a CrossFit buff which is why his bulging muscles show through so nicely in his Under Armour compression shirt. 😉

hot chocolate run

And maybe I pretended to run as I began to cross the finish line… Justin never runs more than a mile at a time since he does CrossFit, and without any training for the race, he still finished in 22:24 (7:13/mile) which meant he came in seventh in his age group, 43rd overall, and 30th out of 709 men – quite impressive!

Not being able to run during the race was hard, if I’m being honest.  While I knew I was doing what was best for my body and Baby Itz, it made me itch to run even more than before.  I crossed in 47:16 – gah!  (that’s 15:13/mile)  My time to run will come again and I often keep that in mind.  Since I wasn’t competing for time (obviously lol), I did stop and take a few pictures throughout the course.  Running (walking) in Arizona sure is different from St. Louis!

arizona view

The official hashtag for the race was #willrunforchocolate which meant plenty of hot chocolate and chocolate goodies post-race.  Instead of receiving a medal, you got a mug filled with hot chocolate, warm chocolate fondue, and dippables.  This made us both happy and was a delicious breakfast post-race treat.  I even commented that there should be spoons in there; Justin went savage and used his fingers.

hot chocolate mug

Everyone’s happy when chocolate is involved!  The mugs did include a wet wipe for your hands which was super convenient.  Afterwards, we headed back to the hotel so I could shower, pack our belongings, and checkout.  We went to Butters Pancakes & Cafe for brunch which totally hit the spot.  We all cleaned our plates to say the least.

jonny robbie

Robbie & Jonny both still love their college gear!  Proud alums!

We had a couple of hours to kill before heading to the airport.  The boys watched Sunday football (no surprise there!), while I wrote this blog post for today.  Everyone was happy.  I did manage to break Jonny away from the tv for a moment for a picture.  We both love the giant cactus that is in Justin’s front yard, so it was the perfect photo opp!

jonny me arizona

And that’s a wrap, folks!  Long post filled with my favorite pictures from the weekend.  Going back to work today will be a bit tough as it always is after a vacation, but itz fun to look back on such wonderful weekends – especially when they’re filled with family, fitness, and food (particularly chocolate!).

What was marvelous about YOUR weekend?


So I’ve got a funny story for you on this lovely Monday.  (Itz a short one, no worries.)  When I was in college at Mizzou, my parents occasionally came up for football games.  Well one particular afternoon, my mom was reading the big screen and asked if I’d ever been to, “Mutigers.”  I hadn’t heard of it, so I peered in the direction she was looking and realized she was reading MUtigers (MU tigers) as one word.


My dad and I got quite the laugh and we still tease her to this day.  (Love you, Mom!)  Anyway, this past weekend Jonny and I went to Mizzou with our best friends Diana and Andy.  Diana and I were people watching (aka paying really good attention to the football game) and Diana asked, “What’s O-B-E-Y?”  Again, I was confused so I glanced in the direction where she was looking.  I replied, “You mean ‘obey?'”  Instantly, we busted out laughing as it was just one of those moments.  So funny.  Diana definitely won’t live that one down for quite some time.  😉

As we headed to Mizzou, we packed our bags, filled the coolers, and attached the tiger tail.

tiger tail

A tiger tail is a must when driving to Columbia and we saw tons of other cars with them.  We had such a fun day and night at Mizzou.  Diana, Andy, and I all went to Mizzou for school and Jonny has always been a fan just being from St. Louis.  Not only did the Tigers win, we had a blast, as always, with DiAndy.  We had a wonderful dinner at Sophia’s followed by frozen custard at Andy’s.  It was marvelous indeed!

Marvelous in my Monday hosted by Healthy Diva Life!

Itz awesome being in Columbia on game days because literally 99.9% of the people are sporting their black and gold.  The only thing that’s different now compared to when we went to Mizzou, is that now a lot of people get really dressed up for games.  Like, heels or boots and dresses, something we would have never worn to a football game in our days (yes, a mere five years ago!).  Apparently itz because Mizzou is now part of the SEC.

Diana Andy

Diana & Andy

We all still dressed pretty casually to the game.  Plus, it was 95 degrees outside under the blazing sun, so wearing anything remotely nice was not appealing whatsoever.

jonny mizzou

What’s your alma mater?  Did/do you tailgate and go to the football games? MIZ!

Eating at Innsbrook

Last weekend, Jonny and I went with my parents to their beautiful home in Innsbrook.  Innsbrook is a resort on 8,000 acres of land with over one hundred lakes located about forty-five minutes outside of St. Louis.  Itz so relaxing yet there are a million ways to stay active (which you know I did the whole time!).  There will be many more trips to Innsbrook with the family, but this short twenty-four hour trip was perfect.

Innsbrook weekend

I learned how to stand up paddle board (or “surf”), we all went to a Jake’s Leg concert (a St. Louis cover band that plays Grateful Dead), and Jonny caught a big ugly catfish. 🙂  Of course, we enjoyed lots of delicious food.  There are restaurants at Innsbrook, but my parents typically bring their own food to cook while they’re there.  That totally suits me as we ate all of our meals outdoors right by the lake.  It was lovely.

Today I’m linking up to Peas and Crayon’s What I Ate Wednesday to show you all of our eats at Innsbrook.  Food just tastes so much better and looks so much prettier lakeside.

I’m going to show you our meals in breakfast, lunch, and dinner order because that makes the most sense to me, although really we ate them dinner, breakfast, lunch since we arrived Saturday afternoon and left Sunday afternoon.  Bear with me.

Coffee: Since we were technically on vacation, coffee was a must.  However, my parents didn’t have any milk or creamer and I just can’t do black coffee, so I had to make do with what we did have.  A scoop of ice cream serves as a wonderful creamer. 🙂

innsbrook coffee

Breakfast: One of the goals at Innsbrook is to eat all the food you bring.  Not stuff yourself, of course, but more as a convenience factor because whatever you don’t eat, you have to bring home.  So for breakfast I used leftover steak from our dinner the night before and made a skillet with steak, eggs, and spinach.  We also had leftover roasted potatoes and a fresh fruit salad with watermelon, strawberries, nectarines, bananas, and grapes.

innsbrook breakfast

Lunch: My momma prepared quite a tasty lunch.  Salmon on top of a fresh bed of spinach, fruit salad, broccoli, and a few avocado slices.  A balanced and colorful lunch – the best kind!

innsbrook lunch

Dinner: Oh me oh my we had so much food for dinner!  Nobody goes hungry when my parents are cooking, that’s for sure!  My dad grilled steaks (to perfection!) and mushrooms, and my mom made a salad, roasted potatoes with a little Parmesan cheese, and steamed broccoli.  A glass of Castle Rock wine was enjoyed with our steaks.

innsbrook dinner

Dessert:  When you’re out by the lake and your husband and your father like to make the biggest fires EVER, there is only one option for dessert: s’mores!  They’re messy, they’re gooey, and they’re oh so delicious.  I like my marshmallows totally charred.


Are you a s’mores fan?  How could you not be?! When’s the last time you had them?  How do you like your marshmallows roasted?

Eating in Columbus

Itz Wednesday which means itz time to link up to the What I Ate Wednesday party over at Peas and Crayons hosted by the lovely Jenn.  Itz Eating in Columbus!

Breakfast:  The hotel where we stayed (the Hyatt Place in Worthington/Columbus) provided a continental breakfast every morning which was very convenient.  It was adequate and did the trick.  Most mornings looked the same with fresh fruit, an oatmeal bar, sausage links, eggs, and egg sandwiches.

hotel breakfast

I’m so not a sausage eater usually, but I did have some each morning while in Columbus.  Food always tastes differently while out of town, am I right?  A couple mornings I ate fruit and coffee while Stephanie ate breakfast, then she left so I worked out and went back for breakfast #2. 🙂 I may have snagged some apples and yogurts to eat throughout the day.

Lunch: There was only one day where I ate an actual lunch.  Saturday was when I went to the Worthington Farmer’s Market, so I noshed my way through and that sufficed for lunch.  I brought a ton of snacks which were definite lifesavers as were my second breakfasts. On Sunday, Steph and I went to the mall and grabbed a quick bite in the food court.  The options were limited and I ended up going to some Japanese place and getting teriyaki chicken, fried rice, and vegetables.  It was less than stellar and exactly what you’d expect from the mall food court.  Blech.

Dinner: Dinner felt like the only real meals while we were in Columbus.  Sunday night was spent at J. Alexander’s.  I would have preferred to go to a local spot, but J. Alexander’s was within walking distance to the hotel and we went with a couple of photographers who were attending Stephanie’s newborn photography workshop.

J Alexanders

Fire grilled asparagus for an appetizer and a salad with grilled chicken, tomatoes, field greens, cucumbers, fried croutons (ridiculous. good thing there were only 4), cheese, avocado, and honey mustard on the side.  It was a great salad and I was pleased.

Other dinners included an airport dinner on the way to Ohio where I built my own salad. It was actually really good and totally loaded with goodness.  On Saturday night, we went out to a sushi dinner.  I started with a seaweed salad and we ordered a huge plate full of sushi to share between three people.  Monday night dinner was eaten at the airport at Chili’s To-Go. We split the southwestern eggrolls (so good!) and then I got the grilled chicken salad (nothing to write home about).


Dessert: If you know me, you know that getting ice cream is a must on vacation (ok, at home, too).  Everyone in Ohio raves about Graeter’s so you better believe we went there to see what all the hype was about.  This should tell you:


Yes, I feel like I’m 5 years old cheesing at the camera holding my ice cream cone.  But for reals, Graeter’s is legit.  Itz real, rich, and creamy.  After tasting several flavors, I went with the blueberry pie and seriously it didn’t just taste like blueberry.  It was blueberry pie and I even licked the melted drops off my shirt hand.  Graeter’s needs to come to St. Louis.

Jeni’s is another local ice cream joint that I wanted to visit, but there was not one close to the hotel.  Instead, we found a nearby frozen yogurt place called Josie’s.  I combined four flavors: cake batter (obviously), cookies n cream, raspberry (not good – tasted like chapstick), and peanut butter.  Topped it with sprinkles and a couple chunks of cookie dough.  I’m not going to lie: after having real ice cream the night before, this just couldn’t compare.  Real ice cream is so much more satisfying than frozen yogurt.  However, Josie’s did have a fun statue to pop my head in, so it made up for it.  Kind of.

Josie's froyo

Which do you prefer: real ice cream or frozen yogurt?  Ever had Graeter’s?

Sisters in Columbus

Hey there friends and happy Monday to you!  Today I’m blogging from Columbus, Ohio during our “Sisters in Columbus” weekend.  My sister (and pro newborn photographer) is teaching workshops this weekend and wanted a travel buddy.  Actually, I think she just wanted to use my suitcase space as she filled my entire bag with blankets and props.  Itz a miracle I was able to fit in my toothbrush and clean underwear!  Our adventure began Friday evening just before the terrible storm hit St. Louis.

steph me airport

I don’t think Stephanie and I look anything alike.  Do you?

Actually, an hour after we left ALL flights out of St. Louis were cancelled.  We got out of there just in the nick of time and my thoughts and prayers go to everyone affected.

Itz a shame Stephanie and I hate spending time together…


We may not look alike, but we sure act the same!

I’m linking up to Katie’s Marvelous in my Monday today as a sisters weekend in Columbus is most definitely a marvelous thing!

We pretty much hit the hay right when we got to the hotel, since Steph had a big day ahead of her.  As we laid in our respective beds that evening, Stephanie asked me to please not forget to wake her up in the morning.  We laughed as I asked her why else would I set my alarm for 5:45 in the morning while on vacation?

So it turns out, I did not forget to wake her up and I headed downstairs with her to visit the continental breakfast (love those!).  I ate a mini-meal while Steph ate breakfast and waited for her ride.  Once she left for the day, I changed into workout gear and checked out the fitness center in our hotel.

hotel gym workout

It left a lot to be desired, but it did the trick as I knocked out thirty minutes on the elliptical.  Then I headed back to the continental breakfast (don’t judge!) to eat my real breakfast.  I had the whole day to myself, so I went to the cutest farmer’s market in Worthington.

farmer's market oh

I kind of wish I lived here just so I could actually buy some of the local goodness, but I had to make do with just the samples (oh darn!).  I tried honey, cheese, sausage, bread, coffee, pie, brownie, and more!  Ok that sounds like a lot, but they were seriously teeny tiny bite sizes.  The coffee was my favorite as I sampled Chocolate Cherry; I would have bought a bag, but I don’t drink coffee that often while not on vacation.

The rest of the day was a lazy one as I waited for Stephanie to return.  I tried to lay out by the pool, but that lasted about ten minutes as it was windy and cloudy.  I napped, took a shower (be impressed), and hung out on the computer.  It was lovely. 🙂

We ended up going out for a delicious sushi dinner before taking really great pictures…


In the middle of the street.  You know I can’t pass up a handstand opportunity!  Ok, we took some normal pictures, too.

steph me

We clean up nicely, eh?  Sunday entailed a coffee date at Starbucks with my roommate from freshman year of college.  (Fun fact: I went to Miami of Ohio for one year before transferring and graduating from Mizzou.)  It was great to reconnect and catch up!  Then, Steph finished up work for the day and we did a bit of shopping.  I bought a new headband (shocker!) and a couple new tops.

We head back to St. Louis this evening and itz back to the grind (well, not really since I’m on summer break – but, my one summer school class that I’m teaching starts today).  Our sisters weekend in Columbus has been so much fun.  I think we need to plan a sisterly trip every year.  What do you think, Steph?

Do you think we look alike?  Do you look like your siblings?  Ever been to Ohio?  Do you take trips with your siblings?