5 tips to get started running

As my upcoming knee surgery gets closer (we're under two weeks now), I've been thinking a lot about running - and waxing nostalgic about how I got started with a sport I used to hate. I'm by no means a great runner. I don't think I'll ever be anything to write home about when it comes to running, but I love it. It's therapeutic. It's a challenge. It's something I never thought I could do, but I do it, and I love it. I've run seven half marathons to date, as well as one full marathon. And, once I've recovered from my MPFL reconstruction, I want to get right back it.

For those curious, no, running is not the reason I need knee surgery. I talked a little about it on my instagram, but this is an issue I've had for a long time. My left knee likes to subluxate and dislocate, and I've done it about 20 times in my 32 years. In December, it happened randomly, and I wasn't able to bounce back. This surgery should tighten my ligaments and kneecap back up, and I should be able to run pain-free - finally! Basically, my point is that running isn't the cause for me...it's the cure, and I can't wait to get started again. Here are five tips to starting from zero like I did (and will do again) soon.

1 // Set a goal. I like to think that being intentional helps in any regard, but especially with fitness. My first goal when I started running was to stay fit through my first pregnancy. I ran for the first 32 weeks, and it was incredible. I was out running again just three weeks after giving birth, and we set big goals. I wanted to do a half marathon, so we ran Lake Placid. It doesn't matter how big your goal is, honestly. Just set a goal. Whether it's to be fit, do five miles a week, run your first 5k, or beyond, your goal will be your driving force.

2 // Invest in proper running gear. One of the biggest mistakes I made when I got started was not investing in good gear - mainly shoes. Running is hard on the joints. However, great shoes absorb a lot of the shock, and actually protect your feet and joints from damage. I got fitted for shoes at Fleet Feet Syracuse, and I fell in love with Adidas Supernova running shoes. They fit my neutral stride, and I learned a lot about how my knees and feet track when I run. Quality athletic gear is also important. I wear a reflector vest (regardless of the time of day) from Nathan. I also invested in great headphones, and I have this hydration belt for longer runs. Buy gear and clothes that you will be comfortable in for a long time. Remember, it's an investment.

3 // Focus on time over distance. This was a hard one for me when I started. I'm an all-in kind of girl, and I wanted to start off running three miles. Some people are able to. Others, like myself, are prone to injury if they go from zero to 60 too quickly. When I started running, I ran for a certain amount of time versus a certain distance. I started with 30 minutes, and as I progressed, I was able to run further in that amount of time. Only after about a month of running 30 minutes consistently four-five days a week, did I start to focus more on distance.

4 // Choose a running app. Regardless of your goals, a running app is a great way to visually see just how far you've come through the process. Two of the most popular running apps are Strava and Nike+ Run Club. I, personally, prefer the Nike app. I like that it pauses if I have to stop my runs, and I've been using it since the beginning, so it's familiar. Both offer ways to connect with other runners, too, which is motivating. Nothing beats a sense of community.

5 // Train your brain - and your body. Your brain will tell you that running is too hard. It'll convince you that you want to stop. Here's the thing. When you first start, running is uncomfortable. For me, it was so far beyond my comfort zone that I really didn't want to do it. Teach yourself to shut off that negative voice, and convince yourself that you can and you will do it. A great way to do this is to listen to postive podcasts while running. They encourage you to get out of your own headspace. Ultimately though, remember that your body is the boss. Listen to your body. Know the difference between discomfort and pain. 

I hope that these five tips help someone get started running because I really wish I'd known more when I began. Running might not seem like a feasible goal or solution, but if you want to start, you can. It's transformed so much of my outlook on fitness, as a whole, and I've truly fallen in love with running.

Are you a runner? What are your favorite tips to give those hoping to get started?

spring is in the air

tricycle - schwinn by ll bean (available here) // toddler racoon hat - cat & jack by target (similar here)

You know it's been a long winter when a 39-degree morning feels like springtime. It's sunny this morning though, and the wind feels positively balmy compared to the cold temperatures we've been wrestling with the past few months. It was a fun weekend here with the Moore's - a weekend that started with my 32nd birthday. It's funny. Once you have children, your birthday isn't so important anymore, and that's a good thing. Nevertheless, my boys spoiled me and loved on me, and we had a great time.

Saturday was spent relaxing with my men. We went to the mall to run around for a little bit and burn off some steam because it was freezing outside, then we came home for naptime. Another sign of being an adult? It's exciting when a property manager comes to see your home on your birthday. But truly, it was such a good experience. We'll be renting our house when we move this summer, and she confirmed a high rent, which is great for us. She also helped us find some much-needed contractors for a few projects, which helps a ton. It was a huge relief. 

After she came, my boys took me out to dinner, where my little men indulged in some super-creamy mac 'n cheese, which they call "monkey monkey," and they were happy as can be. We capped off the evening with some great wine and snuggles on the couch. Who can complain about a birthday like that?! Oh, Ryan spoiled me. He framed some of my absolute favorite pictures from our trip to South Africa, and I can't wait to hang them in our new home. He also bought me a Tyme iron, which I've been coveting for a while. Do any of you have one? Would love to hear your thoughts!

We actually went to church on Sunday...I know, shocking. I didn't really go while Ryan was deployed because it was too hard between Porter's GI issues and Spencer not wanting to go to nursery. But, we went, the boys did great in nursery, and it was so wonderful to see friends and fellowship again. After naptime, it was nearly 50 degrees, so we enjoyed the sunshine outside and walked to the river!

toddler oversized pom-pom beanie - made by molly morehouse (sold out - shop here)

Spencer is getting so big for his bike. He hasn't quite figured out the pedals, but we're getting close, and he feels so big. Mamas, is there anything better than watching your little ones learn and grow?

There is something so special about the first touches of spring in the North Country. It's been so dang cold this year, and getting outside, breathing fresh air, and walking as a family is one of those simple pleasures we love so much. We're excited for all the changes coming. We can't wait to explore our new area, visit the cities, and take the boys to experience a lot more. But, for now, these springtime vibes make my heart so happy.

I'm linking up today with B Loved Boston for Weekending.

simple moments stick

Happy Friday, friends! I swear this has been the longest and shortest week of my life. You know those weeks where you're insanely busy, accomplish a lot, and feel like you get nothing done? Yep, it's been one of those weeks around here. Remember that judgment call we made the other day about where we were going to live? We heard from housing at Fort Lewis on Wednesday that the current wait time after signing out of post is about 4-6 months. MONTHS. So, while we'd hoped to snag a house on post, we're back to plan A, and we're going to look for a rental off post instead. Wish us luck. Yikes. 

This has been a week of little moments; little victories, little giggles, little tragedies. But it's been one of those weeks of transition, too, as we move one step closer to our move. We're getting things done, and we're working to enjoy the process as we go. I'm linking up today with Momfessional for Friday Favorites and Smidge of This for Five on Friday. 

1 // Daddy/Son Days. I had to work on Monday while the rest of the world (aka the Army) had a day off. Daycare was also closed, so Ryan got to spend the day with his boys. It makes my heart so happy to see my little guys having fun with their Daddy, and it makes me love Ryan even more. He took them to the mall to blow off some steam, and this picture melted my heart. Love.

2 // Change of Command. This actually happened a couple weeks ago, but it's finally going into effect, and I'm free of my FRG duties as of today! It's been a long time coming, and I'm thankful that this chapter is closing, and we're going to be moving to a new place and a new unit. Change is good, friends - as scary as it may be.

3 // Getting Older. My birthday is tomorrow. 32. It's not even a big year. I'm over 30, under 40, and kind of that young middle-age, what the heck am I kind of place. I don't usually love my birthdays. There's no reason really, but I'm working to enjoy it, no matter what.

4 // Adulting Victories. We did some serious adulting this past week and had our windows replaced downstairs. Now, we bought this house because we loved the light from all the windows. We didn't think we'd have to replace eight of the nine downstairs. We did though since our house was bleeding heat, and it's amazing. It might have cost an arm and a leg ($4,000ish), and it will be well worth it. Oh yeah, and our house is warm. Finally. Now we need to re-paint :(

5 // The Home Search. Looking for houses is in full swing here. No, we're not planning to buy, but we do have some strict considerations on what we're looking for in Washington. We need four bedrooms, we need a fenced-in yard, and we absolutely need an open floorplan. I actually don't mind the search...it's fun. It's also nerve-wracking though, so here's hoping it goes well! Oh yeah, and moving boxes are the best...just ask Porter.

These days go by so quickly, and I'm working to remain intentional about everything. It's about enjoying the little things - the simple moments - and stop looking ahead to the future. Easier said than done though, right? Baby steps! Have a great weekend, friends!

be bold, take risks

One of the hardest things about being a military spouse is the realization that there are three entities in your marriage. You have your spouse, of course, but you have another ultra-needy and demanding player in the relationship, as well. Whether it be the Army, the Marines, the Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, or beyond, the tough reality for military spouses is that we often come second.

Most military families know and understand that this means that their service member is, for all intents and purposes, married to the military. It defines their schedule, their hometown, their lifestyle, and so much more. Many people forget, however, that it also affects military spouses. We, too, are owned by the military.

When my husband and I first started dating, there was such a blissful allure to the prospect of moving around, seeing new places, and discovering new things. That remains the same five years later. I love that part. However, there’s an undertone of difficulty that many people overlook.

As many proud, hardworking military spouses can attest, too often our careers are put on hold. We’re overqualified or underpaid. We simply can’t find jobs.

In an already volatile job market, it’s a terrifying concept to be years into a career and suddenly forced into a holding pattern. We are lucky that more companies are learning to open their doors to the possibility of remote employees. We are even luckier when employers are willing to take a risk on the uncertain life and fluctuating career of a military spouse.

But, you need to remember this: luck should never have anything to do with it.

Risk goes hand in hand with reward. Every new hire is a risk. Every new duty station offers a risk of a deployment, or a hardship tour, or a new familial challenge, all of which we’ve come to accept over time. What shouldn’t be a risk is the fact that we are employable. We are a desirable pool of candidates from all walks of life whose experience should be viewed as an asset, rather than a liability.

Whether you are employed but seeking new employment, unemployed and desperate in your search, new to the area, or simply so defeated by the search that you don’t want to continue, there are options. There are a lot of companies and organizations today committed to banding together for the advancement and betterment of military spouse careers. Having done ample research, here are a few things to aid you on your search.

Hire Heroes USA – This nonprofit exists solely to empower veterans and their families secure proper employment in the civilian world. They’re not your traditional job board. They won’t find you a job. They will, however, help you get the one you want, and they do have partnered companies.

FlexJobs – This is a well-known job board for those seeking work-at-home options. There is a minimal sign-up fee that gives you access to hundreds of job calls. Some are freelance options, while others are contract roles. Sift through them, and you’re likely to find something that works.

Serving Talent – This is a relatively newer career matching organization designed to support military and foreign service spouses. You apply much like you would to a normal company. Submit a cover letter with their requested information, as well as your resume, and they’ll work with you to find great matches.

The biggest thing to which I think many military spouses can attest is that we don’t want to be boxed in anymore. There are so many sites out there that give us a list of 5-10 careers that will move wherever we go. That’s great…for those individuals in those career paths. We don’t represent those 5-10 careers though. We represent so much more. We’re doctors, nurses, educators, writers, designers, business professionals, engineers, and beyond. We are exemplary.

We’re also an entire group of untapped and relatively unexplored career potential.

Whether you’re days, weeks, months, or years into your job search, don’t lose faith. Don’t lose your drive to succeed. That’s how you became the asset you are. Be bold. Take risks. Contact company after company. Put those proverbial ducks in a row and send out every cover letter you can. Remember that every single rejection is one step closer to that “yes” that you want.

Whatever you do, don’t devalue yourself. You are worth the effort. You are worth the risk. You will reap the reward in your search.

tamiflu, moving prep & brunch for days

Happy three day weekend, beautiful people! Well, if you're like me and you work in marketing, it's likely not a three-day weekend for you. Otherwise though, happy three day weekend! There's no daycare today, so my little men will be home and playing with Daddy today while Mommy works and dreams of having a proper office (soon). I swear our weekends just keep ticking by way too fast lately. It's probably because we don't have beaucoup time left here, and fate wants to kick us in the behind, but we're making the best of it.

On Saturday, we laid low. The boys, though they didn't catch the flu, seem to be nursing little colds, so we didn't want to do too much. They're on preventative Tamiflu, and their appetites are down, so I've been bribing them with any food they'll eat...read: ice cream. Our giant adventure for the morning was the car wash and the local Stewart's for an oversized sundae, which they devoured.

On Sunday, we did brunch again with Phil and Loralee. Rather than going to Kingston this time, we went to a local place, Skewed. Watertown has very few local joints that are really good, but this is one of them. It's randomly placed in the mall by the movie theatre, and it looks like it would be a weird little chain, but their drinks are fantastic, they're great with the kiddos, and their prices are fair. The boys ran the length of the mall multiple times before breakfast, worked up an appetite, and ate their fair share of the delicious food, which made my mama heart happy.

Ryan and I have been attempting to get off our butts and get stuff done, but it's hard motivating ourselves with things like his training and my knee surgery on the horizon. Speaking of my knee surgery. I gave a little backstory about it on my instagram yesterday, and I appreciate everyone's thoughts and well-wishes! On the plus side of moving though, we've cleaned out two closets, and we're making headway with the third. I know we'll get it all done, but dang, it's not easy when life likes to get in the way!

We've decided to move ahead with a full DITY here, as well. For those non-military folk, that's a full, do it yourself move. Rather than have Army packers/movers show up and break all our stuff again, we're going to pack and load our own truck, and we're going to move it across the country to Washington by ourselves. This really deserves a post of its own, so I'll do that later, but for now, we're trying to knock out the planning phase before anything else.

Friends who've recently moved...any tips or tricks you want to share?! Happy Monday!

when the flu strikes

Happy Friday, friends! We're over halfway through February, and that's absolutely crazy. Time is flying now that we have orders, and it seems like time can't go fast enough - or slow down enough - for us to get everything done. We had a bout of flu in this household this week, sadly, hence my absence. On Monday, my head was a little foggy. I felt a bit like I was coming down with a nasty cold, but it wasn't too bad. By Tuesday though, I couldn't get out of bed. 

I'm not a weakling. I can tough it out like a champ - but I literally couldn't get out of bed. I felt like my body weighed a thousand pounds, and I was lightheaded every time I stood up. So, Ryan got the boys to daycare then took me to urgent care. I obviously have the flu. I started Tamiflu, and I've been getting progressively better each day, thankfully, but it's been a rough week. So, needless to say, I'm seriously thankful for Friday! I'm linking up today with Momfessional for Friday Favorites and Smidge of This for Five on Friday. 

1 // The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. I'm re-reading this novel in anticipation of the upcoming movie, and I'm as completely absorbed by it as ever. If you haven't read it yet, you should. It's a historical fiction novel taking place during World War II, and if you've yet to dabble in historical fiction, now is the time. Take my word for it!

2 // My boys. These little men have no idea how sick mama has been this week, but they keep me smiling (and pulling my hair out) all the while. Gosh, I love them and their sweet hearts. Thankfully, both of them are flu-free, and they had a blast at their respective Valentine's Day parties in school this week.

3 // Frozen. Okay, so in my flu-induced fog, I finally watched Frozen. While my children were at daycare, mind you. I have some serious thoughts. First, yes, I thought it was a great movie. Second, why does everyone love Elsa so much? I thought Anna was a much better character, far more heroic, and one hundred percent more charming than her silver-haired counterpart. Also, where can I find a Sven of my own?

4 // This job search. Guys, job-hunting sucks. Like, it sucks a lot. I've had interviews with two companies the past week, both of which are for remote opportunities. I made it to the final round with the first, and I was passed over for the other candidate - found that out yesterday. I've made it to the second round with the other company, and I'm cautiously somewhat optimistic. It's been pretty crappy, to be honest, because I'm really struggling with the company I work for right now, so I have to take a heavy dose of humility every single day. Cross your fingers for me, please?

5 // A surgery update. Okay, so we had another consult with my surgeon regarding my knee yesterday, and because of our timelines with Ryan's training and our move, we decided to opt for the soft tissue surgery vs. the bone cut. So, on March 12th, yours truly will undergo an MPFL reconstruction. Good times ahead...

military balls + brunch in canada

Happy Monday, friends! Is that a thing? Are we ever truly happy it's Monday? I took a personal health day today, so I'm pretty happy. The boys and I are all slightly under the weather, and I've been fighting this nasty cold for two days now, so I decided to use a sick day. Yay for adulting! We had a busy (and fun) weekend, and I think that's what caught up to me, but I wouldn't trade it in for anything. 

On Friday evening, Ryan and I had our final Army ball here at Fort Drum with the 3-10 GSAB. It was by far the best one we've been to, as well, because there was no endlessly long receiving line, the speeches were short, and they had live music with the Dueling Ivories. Does it get better than that? Nope! We stayed 90% keto, but we had a bit of wine - all things in moderation, right? I rented my dress from Rent the Runway again, and I have to say it's my favorite rental yet! I'd originally picked something slick and tight, but with my giant brace, I chose to go with more of a ball gown, and I'm so glad I did! And, as always, Ryan looked positively dashing ;)

dress - rent the runway (monique lhullier navy j'adore gown - available here)

On Saturday, we were both nursing little hangovers (what can I say? we had fun...), but we decided to head to Kingston, ON with our friends, Phil and Loralee, for brunch. We've been hearing about a place called Chez Piggy for a while, and we decided it was time to try it out. So, after shoveling the entire driveway because, yes, the snowblower broke, we headed up to Canada. 

Chez Piggy was worth every penny. It's a bit on the pricier side even with the exchange rate, but it's French and bohemian influence made it the perfect little brunch spot. Brunch is actually served on Sundays, so we technically did lunch, but it was delightful nonetheless. And, I can't thank the waitstaff enough for being so sweet and patient with the boys. I was afraid it would be too fancy for them, but they had boosters, plastic cups, and plenty of decor details to entertain the boys. It was fantastic.

And, of course, no trip to Kingston is complete without a stop at the boys' favorite toy store, The Rocking Horse. Each time we go, the boys are just mesmerized by the Thomas the Train setup, and they'd gladly stay all day if I'd let them. This time, we managed to extricate them after getting them each a little train part so that they can start building their collection. It's well worth it!

This was probably our last trip to Kingston before our move, so we did our best to soak it up while we could. I'll miss it, to be honest, but we'll  be closer to Vancouver when we're out in Washington, so I can't complain!

I'm linking up today with B Loved Boston for Weekending.

home office makeover inspiration

Is it just me, or is this winter never going to end? But seriously. Okay, I realize that it's still just February, but I've been getting that itch for spring lately like crazy. I think it's all the transition on the horizon for us, which is so scary, but so exciting. Ryan and I made a judgment call the other day. While we'd love to live off post in Washington, the housing market there is awful in terms of rentals right now. From what we've seen and heard from those already stationed there, houses are snatched up within hours of being listed, which really provides no wiggle room. Furthermore, for the type of house we want to rent, we're looking just above Ryan's BAH (basic allowance for housing), and we're not sure we want to go that route just yet.

So, despite my desire to live off post, we've sent in our paperwork to apply for housing on post. Since Ryan will work on main post, we've decided that (barring my getting a job in Seattle/Tacoma), we're going to live on post and assume I'll still be working from home - either with my current company, or for another company. You might remember it's kind of up in the air from this post, but I do have some prospects on the horizon, so please cross those fingers for me! Since I'm still slated to work from home though, I've been dreaming of how to make this office mine. Today, I'm linking up with  Momfessional for Friday Favorites and Smidge of This for Five on Friday to share my top home office inspo.

1 // Mixed Woods and Whites. I love the idea of keeping my office bright and clean, but with plenty of workable space. In our current home, I don't actually have a dedicated office, which we knew when we moved in. I work in a corner of our living room. It hasn't been bad, but it's crowded, and I'm ready for space. I love a space that offers shelving for storage and inspiration, plus a lot of places to move and create...I am a writer, after all.

2 // A Pop of Color. I've never been a girly girl. Okay, that's a lie. I was a girly girl when I was younger. Over time, I've come to love practicality over girlish things though. What I love about this idea is that it adds a pop of fun color, which marries the need for space with the desire for something aesthetically pleasing. Plus, it's more feminine than the dark woods I usually go for, which I love.

3 // Let in the Light. As most of you probably know, it rains a lot in Washington. Like, a lot. We're moving to Western Washington, too, so we're looking at more gray days than I'd love. My goal is to bring as much light and brightness into the space as possible. I think that a bright, happy place inspires, and that's what I hope to go for above all else. White might not be the best idea with two little boys, but bright definitely is!

4 // Function & Form Above All Else. As a mother of two little boys, I know they'll inevitably make their way into my office at some point. Because of this, I really want to make sure there's a corner of the space that's dedicated to their needs. Crazy, right? Not really. I figure that if I take the time to make something that's fun for them, they'll be occupied there, and they'll be uninterested in the cords and computers they could destroy. I love the idea of a chalkboard area where they can create while Mommy's working. 

5 // Keep it Simple and Straightforward. I've mentioned before that I'm fascinated by the concept of minimalism. Look, let's be honest. I'll never be a minimalist. I like things. I also like order though, and I love the idea of marrying simplicity with chic. Will it be as empty as the picture below? No. Will it offer less clutter and more room to breathe, be inspired, and work? Heck yeah! I also love the stark contrast between black and white. Is that weird?

Having a dedicated office is one of the most exciting parts of this move for me. As of right now, I'm still going to be working from home, so that means I need space to breathe and create. I'm hopeful that we'll be able to make a fun, inspiring, and beautiful home office - finally!

impromptu family date nights

One of the hardest things as a parent (and I'm sure all parents can attest to this) is finding the time for real fun amidst the daily grind. From work to daycare, household chores, and beyond, it's hard to make the time for quality moments together. We're trying our best to minimize the stress for each other, as well as our boys, so we're being proactive and actively trying to do all the things. Last night, we decided to have an impromptu family date night.

Since starting our ketogenic diet last month, we've been minimizing the number of times we eat out each week. After weeks of stress and constant meal prep though, we decided to have some spur-of-the-moment fun and go to Five Guys in Watertown. I've found some great keto dining out tips, and we knew we could easily eat there (without breaking the bank) and stay within our diet parameters. 

Our boys loved it. It was a change from the ordinary. We don't eat too many sweets in our house, so splitting a chocolate milkshake was like the holy grail to them, and they preferred that to their hot dog and fries. Also, I think Porter would subsist only on ketchup if we'd let him. He uses his hot dogs and fries as ketchup receptacles, and when all else fails, he sticks his whole fist in the ketchup container and licks it off his hands. It's gross - and hilarious.

Honestly, it wasn't even the best food that mattered. It was the fact that we did something different together. I think that family date nights are going to be a thing here, and I'm excited to do some more in the coming weeks...especially as this endless winter drags on. Here are some great ideas for other family date nights that I'm looking forward to:
  • DIY "drive-in" movie night (planning to do this on Saturday evening)
  • Finger food fun
  • Living room fort and indoor s'mores
  • Indoor bowling
There are so many things we can do as a family and for very little money. Plus, with the weather like it is, we really want to share this time together all warm and cozy inside. I can't wait to get started on these little family date nights - and hopefully start doing some more for just Ryan and myself, as well!

Do you do indoor date nights? What sort of activities do you love to do together?

pcs woes & winter blues

Yes, that picture is an accurate representation of my face lately. We had a busy weekend up here in northern NY. We're doing our best to tackle everything that needs to be done around the house before we list it for rent. And, because Ryan will be heading to training for 6 weeks prior to our move, we're on an even tighter timeline. Oh, and add in the fact that my knee surgery has been scheduled for March 12th, and our timeline is even tighter. The stress here is palpable right now, and the best we can do is try to manage our expectations, conquer our to-do list, and keep our little men happy and sane through the process.

We were hit by some intense lake effect snow on Saturday, but we decided to brave it and head out to Adams to a little Amish furniture shop called Painfull Acres. One thing we've wanted since we arrived at Fort Drum three years ago is some proper, Amish-made furniture. We decided that, since our time here is dwindling, we should bite the bullet, so we ordered a custom-made dining table with two benches. It should be done mid-April, and I can't wait! We spent nearly 2 hours there picking our design, our finishes, etc., and the boys had a blast with the little Amish-made marble toy while we were there. Pro tip - spend enough money and make enough racket, and the sweet owner will give you the toy for the boys to keep ;)

Toddler Fleece-Lined Jacket - Carters (similar here

On Sunday, we spent the morning at Lowe's. While Ryan was deployed, our cats successfully managed to rip a hole in the carpet on our stairs. So, we needed to go pick out new carpeting, and we wanted to pick new paint, as we'll be having the interior of our house redone prior to our move. The boys were patient, and we got it done, but dang, this is overwhelming!

I know this post may seem like a bit of a bummer, but let's be honest, the winter blues are hitting me hard up here right now. I always strive to be authentic, and it doesn't get more authentic than that. The deep midwinter months at Fort Drum are cold, endless, and tiring. And, while there's an end on the horizon for us right now, everything is also in flux. We're trying to figure out housing - do we rent on post or off? We need to find new daycare in Washington, and we all know how fun it was to find it here. We're trying to sort out the process of moving, itself. Ryan wants to do a DITY. I'm really not down for it, so it's been hard all around. 

Things will work out, life will fall into place, and everything will eventually resolve itself, but dang. It's been one of those weekends over here! Add in the fact that my fruitless job search is getting me down, and I'm a basket case.

I hope you all had fantastic weekends, and I'll do my best to be a bit more enthusiastic next time :)

I'm linking up today with B Loved Boston for Weekending.

valentine's gift ideas for him

Ryan and I don't always go big on Valentine's Day. We're firm believers that you should share the love with your partner every day of the year, and that a greeting card holiday shouldn't be the day for you to really go big. That said, I love spoiling people (especially my husband), and I really wanted to make sure he is extra spoiled this year. Buying gifts for men is hard though...amiright, ladies? Seriously. Men either A) already have it, B) will think it's cliche or C) think it's a waste of money. Maybe that's just my husband but, regardless, I wanted to make sure I had some good options this year, so I found some great ideas I wanted to share!

Just a head's up - this post is not sponsored in any way by uncommon goods, where I found all these products. They don't know I exist, but I sure know that they do! So, I'm linking up today Carolina Charm for Five on Friday and Meet at the Barre for Friday Favorites to share 5 great Valentine's Day gift ideas for him.

1 // For the world traveler. I love unique gift ideas, and this one is so fun. We actually have a push-pin map downstairs (two, really) that we've been pinning for the past couple years. This interactive World Scratch Map is a fun alternative to that though, and I love that it's colorful and interactive. Dress it up with a frame, and it's perfect for that man cave or study. Find this product here.

2 // For the beer connoisseur. Ryan's never been particularly interested in brewing his own beer, but my brother in law is a huge fan. The Texas Chipotle Amber Beer Brewing Kit is highly-rated and, apparently, super easy to follow. If you've got a man in your life who loves trying new flavors and seeing what works, this could be a great option. Find this product here.

3 // For the gadget geek. We all have that guy in life who literally has everything...but they geek out over new tech and fun toys. This 5-in-1 Tool Pen is just that, and at just $25, you really can't go wrong. Honestly, I think Ryan would even like it. This pen doubles as a screwdriver, a touch stylus, a bubble level, and a ruler. Does it get better than that for the handyman on the go? Find this product here.

4 // For the game lover. This is actually one of my favorite products that I found when I browsed the site. We're huge fans of board games and game nights. We love getting together with friends and finding new games to play - whether traditional board games or otherwise. Game of Phones is, obviously, punny...so it got me on that first. Plus, it's a scavenger hunt with your smartphone? Sold. Find this product here.

5 // For the fan of self-care. I don't know about your men, but my husband is a huge fan of personal care (and hygiene)...thanks for that, honey. But seriously, he loves to find great products that smell nice, groom well, and last a long time. Uncommon Goods has a ton of options, but I think he'd really love the Hard Working Man's Hygiene Kit. It features a walnut scrub, soap, hand salve, deodorant, foot salve, hand lotion, and lip balm. Basically, it has everything your guy could need to feel fresh and clean. Find this product here.

I really love that this site features so many truly unique options for gifts. I've always been a big fan of Etsy, too, but it's often a bit overwhelming - especially when you're searching for one particular product, and you come up with 100 options just for that. I found about 20 things I think Ryan would love in about an hour, and I know there's more.

Do you give Valentine's gifts to your spouse or partner? What sort of things do you give one another?

All images in this post were sourced from and credit is due to uncommon goods.