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?

perfect fall weekend

It was the perfect fall weekend. It was cool enough to where you knew it was fall with winter right around the corner, yet it was warm enough to where you could be outside all day without a jacket… or many clothes at all, according to my niece Audrey who demanded to wear her SWIM SUIT to play in the sand.

sand innsbrook

A bikini in November in Missouri.  Interesting.  Hey, whatever works.  The kids had an absolute blast as we spent most of the weekend at Innsbrook.  It was the first time we’ve been since the Fourth of July, and it was just as awesome as it always is.  We arrived and Jacob and Audrey were already in the sand, so William wasn’t far behind.  This was his first time playing in the sand, and he just loved it!

William also had his very first fishing lesson, given to him by his cousin Jacob.  Jacob is basically an expert.  He caught three fish in the first five minutes of fishing!

first fishing lesson nov15

Everyone loves being on my parents’ deck at Innsbrook.  It’s such a beautiful view of the lake, it’s so peaceful, and the changing color of the leaves confirms that fall is here.  There are always many, many hours spent out there.

Another popular place is around the fire pit.  William and Audrey enjoyed sitting in the over-sized chairs, while the adults enjoyed the warm fire once the kids were in bed.

aud innsbrook nov15

They’re just best buds.  They loved playing in Pops’ mule and telling each other secrets.

aud mule

Then I took everyone for a ride as we explored the neighborhood.

linking up with katie and erin

Even the dogs joined us.  William loves Zoey and she… tolerates him.  Ellie, my sister’s dog, is SO good with kids.  William showed her lots of love by hugging and kissing her and Ellie just sat there the whole time. So stinkin’ sweet.

ellie nov15

I’m always hesitant when kids want to hug dogs.  Even the best and most well-trained dogs are still dogs.  They are animals which means you should always be a little cautious around them.  However, William was so gentle the entire time and I was right there just to be safe and ensure he didn’t squeeze too hard.

We ended the weekend with a ton of errands and a fun family dinner.  It was a busy yet restful weekend that ended on the most peaceful note.

sleep nov15

Now that’s a sign of a good weekend!

Time to start the week off on a healthy note.  Move your body everyday.  Nourish yourself with mostly healthy foods.  Hydrate with plenty of water.  Get plenty of rest.  Reduce stress.  And surround yourself with those you love.  That’s all there is to it, folks!  Genius, I know! 😉

What were you up to this weekend?

‘Merica Y’all!

The past weekend, the Fourth of July, can be summed up with ‘Merica Y’all!  It was said, shouted, screamed, and shrieked dozens upon dozens times with the happiest smile on whoever it was coming from.  I’m pretty sure my sister Stephanie is who got everyone started on the ‘Merica Y’all train.  Check out her Instagram to see her adorable three year old daughter (my mini me) yelling it between giggles.  My family headed out to Innsbrook, which is always a blast.  We had a good-sized group including my family and many friends.  The crew:

4th of july group

All photos in post by Stephanie Cotta Photography.  Big thanks to Stephanie for taking out her big camera, editing, and sending them our way!  We always love your pictures!  I posted a million candid iPhone shots on my Instagram.  (Follow me – @itzlinz)

Just the kids:

4th of july kids

Hey, it’s hard to get everyone smiling!  Ok, maybe it was just William who wasn’t having it.  But how cute is that pouty face?!

There was lots of water play on the lake, tons (TONS!) of good food, smiles, laughter, running (especially by William!), playing, and an unbelievable fireworks show!  All thanks to my wonderful parents who graciously hosted our big group:

mom dad fourth of july

Beyond grateful for them, not to mention they throw the best parties.  And I love how festive they are.  They got everyone in our family new Fourth of July shirts.  Everyone we saw was decked out in their red, white, and blue.  ‘Merica Y’all!

My cute little firecracker:

4thofjuly

William’s shorts, which I’m obsessed with and are actually “bloomies,” are from one of my new favorite Instagram shops called FuzzyPeachThreads.  I had him in them all weekend long, because why not?  They were so festive and so stinkin’ cute!  Oh… and they were just ten bucks!  I got a couple pairs for him!

Check out these sassy girls:

4th of july girls

And these boys riding in style:

4th of july boys

Linking up with Katie & Erin.

I love this image Stephanie took of Jacob:

jacob four of july

When we woke up in the morning, I promptly changed William out of his sleeper and into this amazing outfit.  I think it really shows off his bod! And those rolls… 😉

4th of july morning

Seriously, I love those shorts.  And those curls.

And to end the post, a shot of pure happiness from him and me both:

4th of july happy

Freedom.  ‘Merica Y’all!

What did you do over the July 4th weekend?

Summertime at Innsbrook

Summertime at Innsbrook is the best.  It includes family and tons of outdoor time.  What could be better?  Some photos from our trip last weekend:

It was William’s first time on a boat.  He was so ready for it!

william ready for boat

The beautiful lake on a gorgeous day.

lake

We had the cutest drivers and best looking crew.

boat

Steph and I with our babies.

aud steph boat

Audrey has to be touching William AT ALL TIMES.

But if you’re going to spend a day in the sun, you obviously need proper protection.

block island sunscreen

my attempt at posing with the sunscreen. errr……

Block Island Organics recently sent me a bottle of their sunscreen to review.  This was the perfect weekend to try it out. I’ve been hesitant to wear sunscreen this summer because whatever I wore would most likely get on William and I didn’t want that to include chemicals.  So I’ve pretty much stayed out of the sun to avoid needing sunscreen.  However, Block Island Organics is different.

Their philosophy is to actively enjoy the outdoors with the motto “Play Smart. Play Safe. Non-Toxic Suncare.”  As such, they strive to make safe, effective and lovable suncare products.  Their sunscreens are non-toxic mineral based (zinc and titanium), as opposed to chemical based.  Their products are non-comedogenic, vegan formulated, paraben free, phthalate free, nano particle free, artificial fragrance free, non-eye irritating, not tested on animals, made in the USA and highly rated by the Environmental Working Group.  They even have a Baby SPF 30 which will come in handy once William is in the sun more.

Since I lathered my arms and chest in this, it obviously touched William’s skin, but I felt ok about it.  This sunscreen is a bit pricier than other brands, but you have to consider what it is (really, what itz not! Chemicals!).  For one week, Block Island Organics is offering readers a 20% discount code valid from August 1-7, 2014.  Get it while itz hot! (Get it? Ha.)

A weekend at Innsbrook is not complete without cousins and a campfire.

innsbrook

And roasting marshmallows, ooooobviously.

My dad and Jonny (aka pyros) got the fire going once again in the morning.

dad jonny innsbrook

Lots of babywearing happened, too.  Actually, it happened most when my family went out on the boat for the first time.  Rain was in the forecast and I didn’t want to get caught on the lake in the rain with William, so we stayed back.  While babywearing him, I decided to do a little workout and walked up and down the stairs 30 times.  Fit momma for the win!

babywearing innsbrook

What does summertime look like for you?

Memorial Day Weekend 2014

Memorial Day Weekend 2014 was wonderful. Part of it was spent with friends, part of it was spent with family, part of it was spent in Innsbrook, and part of it was spent with just William, Jonny, and myself.  Of course, we remembered the amazing heroes who gave their lives to protect our country and give us our many freedoms that we’re so lucky to have as that’s what Memorial Day is all about.

William american flag baby

photo by Stephanie Cotta Photography

My little American flag baby. I actually spent the majority of the weekend unplugged and didn’t take a ton of pictures.  Luckily, Stephanie always loves to pose and photograph William, so we did get that one beauty.  Alright here’s my recap with just a few photos scattered throughout.

Friday: We went to my grandparents’ house as some of our out-of-town family was in town. It was good to visit and our night was low-key and ended early.  Perfect.

Saturday: Jonny, William, and I hung out in the morning and afternoon.  I did capture a couple of adorable pictures of Jonny and William.

jonny william holding hands

Holding hands – melts my heart.

jonny william

So happy!

Saturday night we had our friends Diana and Andy over for dinner.  I followed several recipes and dinner came out fantastic, we all agreed.  We started with a huge salad including spinach, romaine, cherry tomatoes, avocado, honey goat cheese, sunflower seeds, walnuts, apples, cranberries, and balsamic.  Dinner was Copycat Chick-Fil-A Sandwiches (SO GOOD!), corn casserole, and garlic parmesan green beans.  Dessert included french vanilla ice cream with this cookie dough mixed in.  That eggless cookie dough is dangerous stuff.  I could have eaten the whole bowl on my own.  I may have finished what was left for breakfast.  Oops.

Sunday: William and I said good-bye to Jonny as he had to work, and we headed to Innsbrook with my family.  Even though it poured on the way out there, it turned into a beautiful day and lots of time was spent on the lake and in the sunshine.  In the evening, we went to the first concert of the summer.

mom william

William slept through the entire thing, mostly in his Yaya’s arms.

Monday: We enjoyed more time outdoors at Innsbrook before cleaning up and heading home.  Stephanie took a gorgeous shot of her daughter, Audrey Rose, that I must share.

audrey

The rest of the day was spent at home unpacking, doing laundry, and hanging out together.  One last picture of our baby William.

william4

Love that face.

How did you spend your Memorial Day weekend?

Hanneken’s at Innsbrook

Ok, I promise I don’t eat cereal every morning.  I’ve been much better about cooking eggs, steaming spinach, or making smoothies to get in some fruits and vegetables for breakfast.  I literally eat cereal maybe once a week, and like last week, it just so happened to be on Tuesday.  Again, I went with a bowl of Attune Foods Quinoa & Chia cereal with sliced bananas and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

cereal

Bananas in cereal are such a childhood memory for me.  We used to eat them with rice krispies and sugar sprinkled on top.  Anyone else?

Today, I’m linking up with Peas and Crayons’ What I Ate Wednesday.  Nom nom.

Over the weekend, I was at Innsbrook (lake resort area just outside of St. Louis), and we decided to go to Hanneken’s for dinner.  There aren’t many restaurants at Innsbrook, and Hanneken’s is located on the ninth hole which overlooks the green and fairway.  However, it was dark when we went, so we didn’t exactly get to enjoy the scenes.  My mom and I ordered three dishes and split them all: Wheat Berry Salad, Harvest Wrap with Sweet Potato Fries, and the Roasted Vegetable Pizza.

hannekens

  • Wheat Berry Salad: Salad greens topped with a harvest mixture of wheat berries, celery, red bell pepper, carrot, dried cranberries, and granny smith apples.  Tossed in sesame dressing.
  • Harvest Wrap: Warm wheat berries with grilled squash, peppers, onions, asparagus, and dried cranberries, topped with spinach and drizzled with sesame dressing.
  • Roasted Vegetable Pizza: Carmelized onions, red bell peppers sliced mushrooms, diced tomatoes, artichoke hearts, and spinach.

What can I say? All the dishes with wheat berries totally appealed to us and they definitely delivered. I’d like to recreate the wrap and the salad with wheat berries at home.  The salad and the wrap were very similar as you can see by the ingredient list, and that’s not a bad thing.  Since we ordered so much food, I was actually able to take half the wrap to school for lunch on Monday.  (The sweet potato fries were long gone!)  My mom and I ordered the pizza vegan which meant it came with no sauce or cheese and instead a white bean hummus.  It wasn’t bad, but we probably wouldn’t go that route again.  It was just a bit dry and bland.  All good though!

Dinner included leftovers… you know how I roll. 🙂

dinner

My mom sent us home with leftovers of her pasta con broccoli and I couldn’t be happier!  Plus, we had a few slices of pizza left and I steamed some frozen broccoli.  Oh, and don’t be fooled.  While this was being reheated, I finished off the last few bites of cold pasta and ate another slice of pizza.  Blame it on the pregnancy?  Ha.

Have you ever eaten wheat berries?  Any good recipes to share?

Friday Fun

Happy Friday, friends!  Itz time for some Friday fun around here as itz been a long week and I am so ready for the weekend.  Let’s first talk about today… at approximately 7:37pm I’ll be downtown St. Louis in Busch Stadium cheering on the Cardinals during Game 1 of the NLCS.

zoey

Of course Zoey won’t really be with me, but I couldn’t resist using this cute picture again.

Keeping with the St. Louis theme, Dimvaloo is having an awesome sale this weekend!  As a refresher, Dimvaloo is my most favorite store ever.  They’re the only store in the United States, besides California, to sell Lorna Jane.  Itz better than Lululemon, seriously.  This weekend is your chance to go as they ordered too much from Australia, so they’re selling product at discounted prices during their “Oops” sale!  You must check it out!

dimvaloo

Laura Beachy, the lovely PR Coordinator of Runner’s World, sent me an e-mail yesterday that read, “I spy with my little eye a familiar face on the cover of this year’s RW Half participant guide,” with the following attachment:

runner's world participant guide

Do YOU spy me?  Itz a glamorous picture, for sure. 😉 The Runner’s World Half & Festival is next weekend and I’m sad to be missing out on it this year.  Last year was seriously the best running weekend EVER.  I blogged about it a million times, but itz the last race I ran before my huge running break and I PR-ed throughout the hat trick of the weekend (5k, 10k, and half marathon all within two days of each other).  If you’re anywhere near Pennsylvania I highly suggest you get involved with the weekend!

Sometime on Saturday, Jonny and I are heading to Innsbrook with my parents, brother, and nephew.  It should be pretty low-key which will be nice and will include walking through the woods, sitting by the fire, and, of course, time on the lake.

backbend innsbrook

This picture was from our summer trip with the whole family.  My sister and I had fun trying out poses on the paddleboard.  Clearly I had to rock the backbend… 🙂

What are your plans for the weekend?

The 2013 Family Jump

I’ve already shared much of my family’s summer vacation trip to Innsbrook.  The food (four cuisines cooked by four Williams) and about a million and one yoga poses (Flying Cosmic Dancer, Double Straddle Throne, and a 22-month-old doing Tree Pose plus tons of others thrown in the mix).  What I haven’t shown you yet is our infamous family jump.  Last year in Cancun we had the best family jump picture ever, but this takes a close second.

Williams jump

In one of our many group family texts, I asked my family to caption this photo.

“That’s right, kids.  Mom says ‘jump’ and you say ‘how high?'”

“Oh no! Phil farted again!”

“U already know itz a Williams photo.”

And the best one of all…

“Ahhhhh!  The ant came back!”

Yes, we are a special, special family.  If you’re wondering where we get our jumping skills from, wonder no longer…

mom jump

Itz from our momma!  During one of our tennis games, Stephanie, my mom, and I took a break to take pictures (obviously) and we captured my mom and her mad jumping skills!

And if you’re thinking in the first jumping pictures that our shirts look oddly similar…

Williams

You’re right!  Last year my sister designed our “Williams Family Vacation” shirts and this year my sister and brother designed our “Think Innsbrook” sailboat shirts.

And just for fun, I’ve got one more picture for you.  It, too, took place during our tennis break.  My sister was laying on the court and I told her I wanted to try to do a cartwheel over her.  (Why? Why not?  This is what we do.)  Stephanie expressed how nervous she was and I remember telling her, “I really I hope I can do this…”

carthwheel

Success!

What would YOU caption our family jumping photo?

Double Straddle Throne Yoga Pose

My family is crazy.  Crazy in a totally awesome crazy way.  We do some crazy fun things in our free time.  We’re crazy and I love that about us.

Williams Pyramid

Don’t all families build pyramids together?  By the way, Stephanie, Dana, and Amy in the middle row were supposed to all be doing downward dogs, but I suppose they were a bit restricted with the space.  We wanted to get little Audrey on the way top, but since there were a few stairs leading to the lake directly behind us, we figured it may be a safety concern.  Maybe next time, Aud.  😉

Oh, and yoga or building pyramids aren’t really Jonny’s thing.  But did you know he’s basically a tennis pro?  Seriously, he whoops my butt every time (which isn’t saying all that much), but he’s got a mean backhand… and forehand… and every other tennis shot!

jonny tennis1

More yoga on the deck continued as Jacob showed everyone what Floating Padmasana looked like.  He’s a pro, after all.  Dana took a turn…

dana floating padmasana yoga

Floating Padmasana

Dana had success, as usual!  Next, we wanted to attempt the Double Straddle Throne yoga pose.  Remember when Jacob, Audrey, and I did this one?  (If not, look HERE – itz pretty stinkin’ cute!)  Dana, Jacob, and I did a pretty good job of this at Innsbrook last weekend.  I held Dana up with my feet and Jacob up with my hands.

double straddle throne - dana jacob yoga

Double Straddle Throne

Believe it or not, I do still have several more really fun pictures to share from our latest Innsbrook vacation, but that’s all I’m going to give you for now.  Gotta keep ya wanting more so you come back! Heh heh.  Happy weekend, friends! xoxo

Japanese, Italian, Mexican, & American Dinners

Amanda from Run To The Finish is hosting an online bake sale beginning August 6th.  100% of donations go to FEED project to help feed children in the US.  All the details can be found here – check it out to see some of the goodies!

Itz no secret my family likes to eat.  There’s never a shortage of food, there’s always plenty of variety, and itz usually pretty healthy with some darn tasty treats.  As we’ve been on vacation at Innsbrook for the past several days, there has been an abundance of good food.  Since we’re at the lake house and not super close to a grocery store, we had to plan accordingly from the beginning.  My parents went grocery shopping in St. Louis and hauled the grub here.  It took more than one trip.  Mind you, there are thirteen of us all together.

My parents put together the most magnificent spreads.  It was never just one option for our meals; it was a million!  They spent a lot of time preparing food and we are definitely grateful that they filled our bellies and made so much food available.  While I did not capture every single meal we ate, I grabbed a few good ones and am highlighting the dinners as itz something different for today’s episode of WIAW.

Matzo ‘n Eggs by Father – Daddio – Pops

breakfast

Itz a must in our Jewish family to have matzo ‘n eggs at least once!  They’re dipped in plain greek yogurt and jelly with a little fruit salad on the side.

Noodles, Spinach, & Fresh Sauce by Mom – Yaya – Mother

lunch

Usually we snacked throughout the day and we didn’t always make a formal lunch, but whatever it was, there were always plenty of options.

My parents had the great idea for each of us four children to be in charge of dinner one night.  That meant planning, grocery shopping, preparing, and cleaning up.  This was the best idea of the whole trip!  For one thing, we were all more than happy to be able to contribute and it also allowed for lots of creativity between the meals (and the leftovers that followed!).  Itz funny because without realizing it, the dinners were cooked in our birth order: Jason, Stephanie, me, and Justin.  Here they are:

Japanese by Jason – Eldest – The Wise One

jason sushi

Jason spent over four hours preparing this massive sushi feast and we all unanimously decided it was the favorite of the trip!  We started with edamame and miso soup before diving into the California Rolls (x2), Philly Rolls (x2), Spicy  Tuna Rolls (x2), Tuna Avocado Cucumber Roll, Salmon Avocado Cucumber Green Onion Cream Cheese Roll, Rainbow Rolls (x2), Big Daddy Rolls (x2) – inside out California Rolls plus cream cheese topped with wasabi, tuna, and salmon, and 20 pieces of Tuna and Salmon Nigiri.  It was a lot and it was freakin’ awesome!

And if anyone didn’t care for sushi (cough cough Phil – weirdo), Jason also made a wonderful chicken stir fry.  Itz hard to be stuffed from sushi, but we were!

Italian by Stephanie – SCP – The Photographer

Stephanie dinner

Stephanie made baked chicken stuffed with spinach and fresh mozzarella, lasagna with Italian chicken sausage, steamed broccoli, and meatballs for appetizers.

Mexican by Lindsay – Linzaloo – Itz Linz – The Favorite

mexican dinner

I made turkey meat and ground beef with taco seasoning, corn casserole, and all the fixings I could think of including black beans, refried beans, Mexican rice, shredded cheese, tomatoes, avocado, lettuce, cabbage, sautéed onions, red onions, corn, sautéed peppers, jalapenos, nacho cheese sauce, mild salsa, hot salsa, guacamole, and spicy black bean dip.  There was the option of making tacos, burritos or soft tacos with corn or flour tortillas, or a taco salad.

American by Justin – Boy – The Grill Master (and The Real Favorite)

justin dinner

Justin made salmon with brown sugar and orange zest, burgers, corn, roasted potatoes, and tomato – mozzarella – sticks drizzled with balsamic.  Another feast, indeed!

In addition to all the aforementioned food, my mom always made sure there was homemade chocolate crinkle cookies, cream cheese brownies, and a freezer stocked full of ice cream.  And obviously there were s’mores eaten almost every night with our huge bonfires.  Big thanks to my parents for keeping us well fed!

If you had to cook dinner for a large group, what would you make?  Which dinner of ours sounds the best to you?