A Birthday & A Serious Question

Happy Tuesday! I have two topics to discuss with you on this fine day.

– Jake’s Birthday –

I love both of my brother’s birthdays almost more than I love my own. It’s so fun to celebrate people! 17 words that describe this awesome kid:

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And 17 of the cutest pictures ever (because Jake was the cutest baby ever):

 

– Race Shirts –

In the running world, there’s a bit of an ongoing controversy. Do you wear your race shirt TO the race, or are you the kind of person who can only wear the shirt post-race? I fall into the latter category, and I have very specific reasons why!

  1. I don’t like to wear anything new on race day. I want to wear the clothes that I know fit and feel the best. This new random race shirt hasn’t had time to pass my tests yet!
    2. I spend a lot of time selecting my race outfit! Beyond feeling good while I run, putting together a race day outfit is kind of like a reward for all of my hard work.
    3. Everyone knows where we are and what race we’re running. If I wore my race shirt, I would feel like a running billboard. Plus, I might blend in with other people who decided to wear THEIR shirts! Have you ever spectated a race? It’s quite the parade and you need to wear something obvious so that you stand out to those looking out for you!
    4. If you run in your hometown, you will most likely lounge around the day after the race. If you’ve traveled to your race, you’ll most likely be traveling home. In either situation, you will want to wear something comfy and casual, and a new race shirt fits the bill. Plus, it’s a subtle way to humble brag. 😉

So which side are you on? Race in your race shirt, or save it? Share your thoughts with us here!

Monday Memories [21st Birthday Edition]

It’s a happy Monday over here for the McGraw family! Someone we all know and love is turning 21 today…

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…is he not the cutest thing you have ever seen?!
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My brothers are so very important to me and I am glad that we grew up with parents who cherished their relationships with their siblings. If we didn’t see how important that was, maybe the three of us wouldn’t be so close. Somehow, we have learned that no matter what is said and no matter what happens, we will be there for each other. That is the best gift ever.

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If I had to be stuck on a desert island with two other people, I would pick my brothers. The funny thing is, the three of us are nothing alike and I think that is why we get along so well. Jake is adventurous, Alex is hilarious, and I don’t really know what I have to offer…I’m just along for the ride. 😉 Alex and Jake have a special bond because they are brothers and Jake and I have a special bond because I was the oldest and I liked “taking care” of him when he was younger (hey, I still do that now…). But Alex and I have a special bond because he made me a big sister. I was 3 years old when he came along and I was so excited to have someone to play with. I have vivid memories of making him watch “Wee Sing” sing-a-long VHS videos with me and playing all of my imaginary games…house, school, the whole nine yards.

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Alex was just the person I needed because while he was adventurous and loved playing outside, I was a total girly girl and would have rather played indoors! My favorite memories are the many hours we spent outside drawing sidewalk chalk roads for our bikes, playing in the creek behind our house, and getting all the neighborhood kids together in our front yard to play kickball or hide and seek.

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While we definitely had our own friends, sometimes our friendships overlapped. He called my best friend Stefanie “Fluffy” and I loved playing with his best friend Nick’s little twin sisters. 🙂

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When we were at the beach this summer, our family kept telling lots of “Remember when…” stories because we have been to Wildwood, NJ so many times! Alex and I were trying hard to remember life without Jake, but it was really hard! Jake was born when I was 7 years old and Alex was 4 years old, so we should have lots of memories just together…but somehow, they all include Jake. Which he is totally fine with. Hahaha

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When we were in elementary school, we bickered like cats and dogs. We were part of an after school bumper bowling league and I remember my mom always reminded us to be nice to each other “in public” because I guess she was afraid we would be mean to each other in front of people. We always told her, “But we’re nice to each other there. We take care of each other and share our french fries.” Hahaha

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One of Alex’s favorite pastimes was hiding behind a door…standing in my closet…laying under my bed…sneaking just around the corner…and then jumping out and scaring the shit out of me as soon as I entered the room/stairwell/bed. To this day, I am easily startled, so needless to say, I wasn’t a fan of his favorite game way back when. 😉

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My very favorite memory with Alex is making our Dad hate the movie “The Parent Trap”. When Alex was 5 years old, he and his best friend were racing their bikes around our driveway and Alex turned too wide and ran into the small strip of brick in between our garage doors. He tore his lip and messed up his teeth pretty bad. He needed stitches! In his school picture that year, you can tell something happened to him! But I am pretty sure for the next week after that little accident, we ate our body weight in Welch’s grape and raspberry popsicles and we watched “The Parent Trap” over and over and over again. There are some movies you can just do that with. 🙂 To this day, I love it, and I’m sure if you ask my Dad, he would probably say he hates it! Haha

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Once I got to middle school, Alex and I had totally different social lives. I was my regular introverted self and he was his regular outgoing self. Luckily, we were always the best of friends when we were together. We spent a lot of time with our family and I was his number one fan at baseball and basketball games. 🙂

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We even got to spend one year together in high school! I was a senior when he was a freshman. We both went to Homecoming that year, too!

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He got really tall and most people thought that he was older than me. When I went on college tours, the tour guides ignored me and would ask what he was going to study. But my very favorite were the people who would mistake us for dating. Ha!

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Once, we were riding this Surrey bike in Wildwood and Alex was driving us down a ramp from the Boardwalk to the street. Though this bike has two steering wheels, only one of them ACTUALLY steers the bike and that person also controls the bike. Lucky me, Alex was driving. In his brain, we were going to go full speed ahead down the ramp, but I was having a fit and trying to slow us down before we crashed. As we argued and I tried to reach across him to control the brake, someone commented that we were too young to already be acting like an old married couple. Hahaha!

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We did not die. We made it to dinner that night:)

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Alex has a huge heart, is so smart, and has that extra little dash of confidence that lets him do what he really wants to do no matter what anyone else thinks. I envy that and wish I were more like him in that respect!

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He loves driving (his car and anything else)…

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He loves his dog, Amigo…

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…and he loves Pittsburgh sports. Steelers games are our happy place. 🙂

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The day is finally here, Alex! You have been waiting for your 21st birthday forever. You are now officially an adult. I love you so much! Happy Birthday! Have the best day!

Friday Favorites: Surprise Visit Edition

Happy Friday, friends! This week was actually supposed to be my first week of work, but somehow I ended up in my favorite state…

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…good ol’ Pennsylvania. 🙂 So what brought on the sudden road trip?! Well, first of all, road trips are fun. But second of all, I was supposed to take a four day class this week about classroom management and climate, and last week I got an email that the instructor was on medical leave and would be unable to teach. I really thought nothing of the email…I was happy to have an extra week of summer! But then on Sunday night as I was falling asleep and NOT setting my alarm, I had the bright idea to show up in Pittsburgh on Monday. And by show up, I really mean show up.

As in no one knew I was coming.

As in I texted my brothers this picture of the PA sign and they said, “OMG you’re here?!”

As in I walked up behind my mom in the store she was shopping at with my aunt, and she did this…

My Dad’s first question when I sent HIM the picture of the PA sign was, “Did you tell your mother?” He knew she would freak out. I was so happy she was so surprised. And I intended to catch this whole thing on video, but once she said, “OH MY GOD!” and hugged me, I accidentally stopped recording hahaha!

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Alex was also super happy to see me. 🙂

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Jake tried to kill me with his Fast and the Furious driving habits. Just kidding. 😉 He’s actually a good driver. Now if we could just stop “changing songs” on the iPhone while behind the wheel…and to be clear, I feel bad yelling at him for that because I do the same thing. But OMG it’s scary when the sixteen year old does that!

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And I taught my Dad how to take a good selfie. Skills that everyone should know. He said every time he turns the camera around, his face looks weird. Don’t we all know that struggle?!

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And all the selfie takers of the world said Amen.

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The most important moment of the week was getting my hair “fixed”. I am the kind of person who waits until she wakes up one day and says OMG I HATE MY HAIR before I get my hair cut. Therefore, I hardly ever make appointments. Also, I know 2.5 people in DC so I don’t have a new go-to person to do my hair yet. Michelle, the stylist I went to this week, has cut and styled my hair many times in the last ten years and she is my favorite. In fact, she cut my hair when I was thirteen and changed me from long straight hair with a part down the middle to side bangs and side part. And obviously I have never strayed from that style. 😉 But then I went and got my hair cut short. Which I like (most days). I saw my mom a few weeks after I got my hair cut and asked her if she thought the layers in the back looked choppy or sloppy…because there is a difference and that difference matters. We decided it looked fine and I moved on. Lately, my hair is at that awkward in between stage. It’s not short, it’s not long, it’s just there and not doing much for me. So I went to Michelle because she is the only human I trust to put color in my hair (it’s called caramel) and I was SO afraid of what she would think of the choppy layers in the back because she is good at her job and I just knew she would have an opinion. 🙂 Let’s just leave it at this: the girl who cut my hair a month ago had lime green hair and lime green fingernails and Michelle has been cutting hair for twenty years. Now I have nicely cut short hair AND some color!

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#model #lol #not

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I ate lunch at my favorite Pittsburgh restaurant, Eat ‘N Park, and since I’m not young enough to get a free Smiley cookie with my meal anymore, this chocolate covered pretzel had to do the trick. Do you ever just NEED something sweet after a meal? That’s me all the time. 🙂

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I perused books about my new favorite age group…second graders. I am a naturally curious, inquisitive person, and when my principal offered to give me some books to look through, I had no idea what I was in for! There are just a FEW in that stack. Ha!

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Found my favorite coffee mug. Can we talk about how many ounces of caffeinated goodness would FIT in that mug?! Keurig, let’s talk about making that fit under your machine. Thank you.

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I suffered and had to eat Hunt’s ketchup with a meal last week…then I accidentally went shopping at Trader Joe’s and had to buy their version of ketchup. Let’s just identify that there is no better ketchup than Heinz ketchup and Sam’s Club now has me set for life. JK. More like set for the next three months. 🙂

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Shopped at my favorite store (aka Target) and tried on clothes that didn’t match. Does that bother you? Sometimes I honestly pick out a neutral piece that I have no intention of buying just for the purpose of trying on clothes so I can get an idea of what the outfit would look like. Not the case on this night!  I (or should I say my Dad) bought the pants because they were on sale for $11, they have pockets, and they are dressy enough to wear to work. I hope I can pull off the slouchy trouser trend! Reasons I doubt myself: my Dad asked if these were pajama pants. He is also a guy, so he doesn’t understand. And he is color blind, so did he even know what he was looking at? I hope he is reading this right now. 🙂 I danced around in this plaid top because I love the buffalo check pattern on the cuffed sleeves, but I put it back on the rack and now I’m having buyer’s remorse. Target, I will be back.

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I spent twenty minutes of my life whitening my teeth every day this week. I still have 7 more days to go. 🙂 In this picture, I have the white strips on my teeth. The strips come in trays that look like retainers and you just kind of place the tray over your teeth and push up or down so that when you pull the tray out of your mouth, the white strips stick to your teeth. My favorite aunt is a hygienist and she always has the latest and greatest products for us to try. These white strips are like Crest, but 100 times better. I also like them because they taste like mint and if I recall correctly, Crest White Strips taste disgusting. My aunt is having me take before, during, and after pictures throughout these ten days and after only one day, her coworkers in the dentist office were freaking out about how much whiter my teeth were/are. So either my teeth were really bad before, or these strips really work!

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I found my new favorite shirt at Sam’s Club. Yes, you read that right. Sam’s Club. What the what?! I also bought a slouchy Calvin Klein sweatshirt and the cutest pair of running tights for only $9. Who knew Sam’s Club had such great picks?! Not I!

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Let’s talk about moving. I seem to do it a lot, do I not? There are some clothes in my closet at my Mom’s house that I just want in my closet in DC even though I am probably not going to wear them tomorrow. I just don’t like my wardrobe to be spread out all over the map. 😉 In an effort to NOT pack 107 duffel bags or 1 large box (that I do not have room for in my car because I have too many other things), I looked to our favorite friend Pinterest to help me pack hanging items in my closet. Ain’t nobody got time to take all those clothes off the hanger just to put them back on! Enter: the garbage bag. Pick a section of clothes that will fit the width of the bag. Slide the bag up over the sides…

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Take that section off the hanging rod and set it on the floor. It pretty much stands by itself. Slide the garbage bag up over the ends of the hangers so that it is more enclosed, then wrap the ties on the garbage bag around the tops of the hangers. GENIUS. I CAN’T EVEN.

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As if I didn’t love Pinterest enough before. If my description confused you, find the original pin here. And follow all of my boards here! I’m a big fan of the “Is It Fall Yet?” board right now. 🙂

Have the best weekend! 🙂

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Bloggers, looking for a link-up? Click over to any one of these amazing blogs to join us for Friday Favorites!

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Friends + Fruit + Favorites, Oh My

Like Jamie over at The Celebrating Momma, I believe that you should do a little celebrating every day…not just when Friday rolls around. Although Friday usually does bring some pretty fun times. 🙂 My favorite day of the week is actually Thursday because it’s full of anticipation of good times ahead and everyone is usually still super productive. Even ABC jumped on board with their super amazing TV shows. #TGIT

Anyways, Jamie’s post this week really spoke to me. I was feeling all kinds of anxious and overwhelmed about certain decisions in my life and I kept going back to God asking…what are you doing? Why aren’t things happening? Where are you going with this? Why isn’t it happening MY WAY?

I was sort of asking the right questions. But I wanted to be in the driver’s seat of life, and I am not. I should have been saying…show me what I can do here. Let things happen in your time. Here are my fears…you will make them right. I trust you.

Instead of beating myself up for not trusting the Lord earlier, I’m going to celebrate my favorite moments. 🙂

– ONE –

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It could be argued that my favorite food is peanut butter, but is that really even a food? 😉 Come summer, I am all about the fruit. Put pineapple and strawberries in the same container and I am in HEAVEN. The juices mix together and taste so fresh and delicious! Last weekend, my mom and I made these fruit kabobs for me to take to the Kenny Chesney tailgate. Tailgates are also my favorite because they usually include chips and buffalo chicken dip, but I’m that friend that shows up with fruit kabobs and a vegetable tray and turkey burgers. Yes, yes I did.

– TWO –

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On the note of Kenny Chesney, these are my favorite people. A big group of us tailgated for a few hours before the concert…eating, drinking, playing corn hole and Kan Jam…there was also laying in the grass (as seen above) and ten people in my Jeep Patriot at one point. Ha! It was HOT and sunny last Saturday but there were scattered torrential downpours. Not scattered showers. It would go from sunny to literally WATCHING the clouds roll in…and then it would pour for a solid ten minutes…and then it would get sunny again. An adventure for sure. 😉

– THREE –

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If you follow me on Instagram, you might have seen me geeking out about my succulents the other night. I found these little beauties at Trader Joe’s the other day and I was SO HAPPY because from what I have heard, they are pretty low maintenance…as in, I don’t need to water them 24/7 for them to survive. If this is inaccurate, please don’t burst my bubble. Hahaha

Fresh flowers in my apartment is my favorite, but I don’t like how quickly they wilt and die. Hopefully I have better luck with these plants!

– FOUR –

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National Running Day. Need I say more? Running is my favorite. If running isn’t your jam, today is National Donut Day. Krispy Kreme and Dunkin Donuts are giving out free donuts. You’re welcome. 🙂

– FIVE –

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Throwback pictures are my favorite. Do you have the Timehop app on your phone? You can link it to your social media accounts and every day, you can see what you posted on that exact day in previous years! I love checking it out every morning. 🙂 This picture was taken five years ago…I can hardly believe it. My little brothers are both 6’5″ so seeing Jake (my youngest brother) looking this little makes me feel all the feelings! Ha!

I remember this was during the last week of school…you know, those days when you don’t want to go because everything of importance is over?? My mom is a teacher so she went to work but I was allowed to stay home because I was a senior and we LITERALLY had nothing to do except practice for graduation! Somehow, the baby of the family convinced my mom he should also be allowed to skip school. I guarantee when I was eleven years old this never would have happened. #babychildproblems But since I was essentially “babysitting” and my friend and I wanted to make plans, we took this cutie to the Pittsburgh Zoo. Our other brother was hanging out with his friends on this day…but we had so much fun at the zoo and we took so many pictures! I hope my brothers both love hanging out with me as much as I love hanging out with them. 🙂

– SIX –

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Last weekend, my dad, my brother, and I went to brunch at Eat ‘N Park. It’s definitely one of my favorite restaurants! I love their omelettes, their salad bar, and of course, their Smiley cookies. I guess you could call this a chain restaurant because there are several locations…but it’s kind of a Pittsburgh thing! Randi will know what I’m talking about. 😉

When you’re a kid, this restaurant is the best because you get a FREE Smiley cookie after you’re done eating. Me and my brother Alex definitely tried to pretend Jake was a “kid” for a lot longer than he actually was so we could get free cookies! Recently, I bought a Smiley mug (in Pittsburgh colors, of course) so I can represent my favorite place while I’m at school…but last weekend, I discovered Eat ‘N Park now makes K cups and my day was made. I might have to go back and stock up! I don’t usually like black coffee, but this is so good with just a little bit of Splenda!

– SEVEN –

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One of the first Pinterest snacks that I pinned many moons ago was a such a success that now my mom and I have the recipe memorized. Energy balls are my favorite. Energy balls that aren’t rolled into balls yet are just plain dangerous.

– EIGHT –

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Summer gives me a lot of time to shop. This is not a positive. One positive thing is my tank top from Target was on clearance…so that makes it all okay, right?! Jake is super into brand name clothing. I like nice clothes. I don’t really care where they’re from as long as they’re pretty and they make me look good. Ha! Anyways, when I was in Atlantic City recently, I went to the True Religion store to browse around for him. While my mom and I were sending him pictures of clothes in the store (yes, we were those people), the sales woman was accosting me because all the shorts and pants were $50 off for Memorial Day.

Well. True Religion clothing is expensive and even at $50 off, I am not spending that much on shorts. It’s just not enough fabric to be worth it. Ha! So this woman convinced me that I needed to try on these jeans and really all I wanted to was go shop at the boutique next door. But I tried the beloved jeans on, and as Sheaffer would say, “they’re like buttah.” My new favorite.

Tell me about your week!!!

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Linking up with these lovely ladies. If you’re a blogger, join us in sharing your five favorite things from this week!

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AndreaNarciErika

Show N Tell Tuesday: Name Edition

 Happy Tuesday, friends! Today we are talking all about how we got our name. I always love when there is a reason behind a person’s name…it makes that person even more unique!

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My full name is Kylie Elizabeth and I think I really know all the details behind my name because in my high school AP Psychology class, I had to make a Baby Book about myself. Ha!

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I am the oldest of three and my parents decided they didn’t want to know if they were having a boy or a girl, so they made a list of names for both!

Boy
Alexander Newton
Kyle Jeffrey

Girl
Rebecca
Valerie

Now that I look at those names, I cannot imagine being called Rebecca (Becky) or Valerie (Val)! My parents settled on “Kylie” for the simple reason that it was unique and they could not agree on many others, even the ones they had listed! It truly is a unique name because for most of my life, I was always the only Kylie around and I was one of those kids who could never find a keychain with her name on it. Ha! I think the name has gotten more popular in recent years, though. Usually when I hear someone say, “Hey Kylie!” and I am out an about, it is a parent calling after their little girl. 🙂 The best story I have about my name is that one summer when we were on vacation at the beach, I was playing with a girl at our hotel’s pool, and her name was Kylie Elizabeth. WHAT?! I know.

My middle name, Elizabeth, is a variation of my great-grandmother’s name, Beatrice. Although now, my mom tells me that she wishes she had picked my middle name after her sister, Elaine. After all, when I am home, I see her almost every day. Her plea of “It’s the same initial and everything!” is not convincing me I need to go about changing my middle name in my 23rd year of life. 😉

On the subject of names…not that I am getting married anytime soon or I am even dating anyone…but I always wonder what my married name will be. Will I be Kylie Elizabeth McGraw fill-in-the-blank? Will I drop McGraw? Will I drop Elizabeth? WHO WILL I BE?! Hahaha

Now I am going to tell you about my cute brothers…

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…in 1994, I became a big sister. Again, my parents decided to be surprised, so they were thinking of names for boys and girls. The brother who is closest in age to me is named Alexander Newton. Does that sound familiar?! It was one of the boy names my parents had thought of with me! It is actually a family name, but apparently many years back, this person’s name was Newton Alexander. For some reason, my mom thought her child might be made fun on the playground if his name was Newton. I have no idea why?! We have always called him Alex, never Alexander…and my dad’s nickname for him when he was younger was Newt. He went with it until late elementary school when we were going to one of his basketball games one night and he said, “DAD! Do NOT call me NEWT from the stands! PLEASE!” Poor guy;)

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Then, in 1999, Alex and I got a baby brother! I remember my mom being pregnant with Jake much more than I remember her being pregnant with Alex. It’s much easier to remember things at 7 years old than it is to remember things at 3.5 years old! Alex and I were so excited to have a baby in the house. He, of course, wanted a baby brother, and I, of course, wanted a baby sister. Hello, I already had a little brother…I didn’t really think I wanted another one of those. 😉 My mom found out that she was having another boy but my dad didn’t want to know so she kept that secret for five whole months! Because she had to keep up appearances, her and my dad kept thinking of names for boys and girls.

For a girl, they were thinking of the name Delainey…a unique spelling of that name because my grandma’s name is Dolores and my aunt’s name is Elaine. For a boy, they were thinking Jacob or Patrick with the middle name Jeffrey (my dad’s name). My mom was kind of leaning towards Patrick because she was due in March around St. Patrick’s Day…but on March 22, she had a little boy and named him Jacob Jeffrey. 🙂 Jake has always been just Jake, never Jacob…but we were thinking that when he got a little older, we would call him JJ. That didn’t work AT ALL because by the time he was a toddler, he was used to being called Jake and he cried every time we called him JJ. It probably also didn’t help that there was a cartoon on TV at the time named JJ the Jet Plane. Hahaha

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So, what is the story behind your name? Does it have a story? What crazy names did your parents think of?!

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If you are linking up, click on over to Andrea’s blog and add your post! Then join us for the next Show N Tell Tuesday. 🙂

Rain Can’t Rain On My Friday Parade

The 10 Day Forecast isn’t showing sunshine until Sunday…but rain can’t ruin a Friday! I have a hot date with my laptop and my thesis so it’s going to be a weekend to remember. 😉 Luckily, my roommate and I are kicking it off with drinks + friends!

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The week after a break can be a drag, but I’m happy to report there was no dragging over here. I’m not sure my lovely friend Molly feels the same way. 😉 As usual, I’m linking up with Andrea, Erika, and Narci to share my favorites from this week! You might think it’s silly or wonder how you could possibly have a new favorite something only seven days apart, but I like to reflect on moments. The little things are the big things. I challenge you to think about your week, too!

– ONE –

This week started off on a high note…we were all kind of still riding the “birthday high” from Jake’s celebrations last weekend and so I was super excited to get this text in my family’s group message on Tuesday afternoon!

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Permit in hand, ready to hit the road! A favorite for sure. My mom has let him be pretty adventurous this week behind the wheel. He’s had a ton of practice in parking lots and driveways and cul-de-sacs (I think my Dad taught all three of us how to drive before we were 16;)), so my parents were pretty okay sitting in the passenger seat this week!

– TWO –

I’m a creature of habit in the kitchen. I just am. I am also kind of picky about what I eat, which stems from the fact that I was the pickiest child on the planet when I was younger. Think Kraft macaroni and cheese on Thanksgiving because I wouldn’t eat turkey. My grandparents thought that was ridiculous, just so you know. Hahaha

I am not NEARLY as picky about what I eat anymore but there are a few weird habits I have that have stuck around. Example: I don’t like red meat unless it’s with pasta. I will not eat hamburgers or steak. It just doesn’t seem appealing to me. That being said, I LOVE chicken and turkey. But a diet of chicken and turkey can get a little boring sometimes and I have discovered that not all seafood “tastes fishy”. I’m not sure what that description even means because I didn’t put a piece of seafood in my mouth until I was at least 15 so I was judging with no experience. Except for that time my Dad ordered fish and the fish was delivered to our table with its eyeball still in… #scarredforlife

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I have decided I like tuna, some crab, tilapia, and calamari…but really I just like calamari’s fried breading and sauce;) Anyways, I made tilapia and broccoli for lunch this week and it was definitely a favorite!

– THREE –

On the subject of cooking, my roommate and I take turns cooking dinner for each other once a week. I made ground turkey lettuce wraps. So yummy and so easy to make!

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This recipe is 21 Day Fix Extreme APPROVED which makes it a favorite for me! A similar recipe can be found here.

– FOUR – 

I have discussed my newfound love for podcasts and I think it is awesome that my church has a podcast where we can listen to sermons if we miss the service or if we just want to hear them again later in the week!

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On Wednesday when I was going to meet friends to run, I was in such a cranky mood about something that is not even important. Regardless, I was changing the radio station every ten seconds and then I plugged my iPod in and I started doing the same thing. Add some red lights that stay red for five minutes and green for 20 seconds and I was DONE. So I finally decided to click on the NCC podcast and listen to the sermon (even though I had already heard it) because sometimes you just need a little Jesus in your life.

– FIVE –

These people that I run with, though. Seriously some of my favorites.

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There is nothing better than running shoes. 😉

Wednesday was a special night for us because part of our running group is on a mission trip right now. They’re in Israel and Palestine learning about the conflict and reconciliation efforts there and Friday morning, they ran the Right to Movement Marathon in the West Bank. Those of us in DC planned our route so that we could go to both the Palestinian Liberation Organization building and the Embassy of Israel and pray for our friends who are abroad.

On the way, we passed the National Cathedral…

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…this entire evening was one of my favorites of the entire week. 🙂

– SIX –

Have you ever bought something, gotten home, unpacked your bags, and then weeks later, found one of your purchases??? No? Just me?!

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Painted nails make me feel put together. #needisaymore

– SEVEN –

Easter is around the corner and I love a good reason to buy festive little decorations for my apartment.

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The glitter Easter eggs didn’t all fit in the apothecary jar by my kitchen window, so the rest found a home in the basket on my coffee table. 🙂

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I love love love having candles burning when I’m at home. My roommate just bought this HUGE Yankee candle which smells amazing (and is the perfect color for Spring;)). I also always have a candy dish on this end table and when I saw this one, I knew it was perfect. I love that it’s  shaped like an Easter egg and has the little bunny on top. It’s not too much but it still fits the holiday. 🙂

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– EIGHT –

And because I can’t end on an odd number, here’s the new verse that is the new background of my phone. 🙂

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Happy weekend, everyone!

Post Spring Break Happiness

Today I woke up and the sky looked like this:

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You can’t be mad about Monday morning when it’s this pretty. 🙂

I’ve been thinking about my Spring Break and realizing that although it didn’t really go as planned, it was still a great week. I didn’t travel to an exotic location with friends, I just went home to spend time with my family and friends and it was so fun. I did get sick and that kept me down a few nights…but maybe rest is just what I needed! I was still able to see two of my best friends, have lunch with my Aunt, spend time with my parents and brothers, and celebrate my brother’s birthday. When I picture what my planner looks like in the next couple of weeks, the number of assignments and projects I have due almost makes me feel like I need to schedule my day by the hour. But I don’t feel overwhelmed…I feel refreshed. Ready to take on the many, many tasks with my name on them. And I think I have Spring Break to thank for that!

It wasn’t only getting sick that made Spring Break not so spring-like…it actually SNOWED on the official first day of Spring!

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My workouts weren’t as intense because I was trying to listen to the doctor (eight to ten days of rest? Is she kidding?) but I did manage to make it outside to walk the dogs a few times and run on Saturday. Colby is a good little walker…Amigo pulls forward the entire time like he has never been on a leash before. I keep hoping that with more practice, he will stop being the leader of the walk. It hasn’t happened yet. 😉

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It’s like you can see their personality in the pictures…Colby is content to just be (he was laying on my lap) and Amigo loves to play and move and run at all times!

I spent a good part of Friday night at Jake’s volleyball tournament…

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He’s got hops.

…and we spent lots of time celebrating his 16th birthday. 🙂

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My people.

My mom let one of his friends eat a piece of cake before we sang Happy Birthday! I was appalled. He wouldn’t let us sing when we went to Dave and Buster’s with his friends, so we made the singing happen at brunch the next day. You can see how happy he is about that. 😉

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But now it’s Monday…I’m back at school…and it’s back to reality! Instead of looking ahead at all of my responsibilities and feeling overwhelmed…I’m going to look back on my Spring Break…and then move forward feeling refreshed. I think I was stuck in a winter funk before I went home. I was obviously still going to work, doing my schoolwork, and working out, but I wasn’t feeling particularly inspired to do any of those things. I actually couldn’t wait to get home and “relax” most days. The biggest thing that I wanted to focus on this year was being more present in my every day life. Really involving myself in what I am doing…engaging in conversations…and appreciating the moments. But no one can do that 100% of the time and I think it’s pretty normal to feel like you’re a little disconnected from your own life sometimes. You don’t need an entire week off to bring yourself “back to life” (or maybe you do;)) but you should do something that will help you break your routine.

Last week, I would have felt overwhelmed by everything that I have to do for school…this week I am excited to take on the challenges.

Last week, I would have felt like it wasn’t fair that I “have” to work out (seriously, this is a thought I had), this week I am thankful that my body is able to work out.

Last week, I would have watched Netflix in my free time…this week I realize that my free time is SMALL and should not be given to mindless TV. Example: last night, I taught myself new PiYo choreography and read a book.

I’m still in grad school so I get to have fun weeks like Spring Break. But if you’re in the real world and ten days off isn’t a gift that your job gives you (they really should. Let’s petition!)…change it up. You have a daily routine (we all do), so just do one little thing differently. Your perspective WILL change.

My perspective is refreshed.

Happy Monday!

Throwback Thursday: Birthday Edition

There are few people in this world that I love more than I love my two brothers. Maybe it’s because I’m the oldest, maybe it’s because I grew up with parents who were really close to their siblings…whatever the reason, I am extremely protective and proud of my little brothers.

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New York City 2013

Family is great like that. Knowing there are people in the world who will love you no matter what kind of mood you’re in, no matter what you say, no matter what you do. You are loved. If we’re lucky in life, we even find a few friends that are as great as family. When I find those people, I never let them go. 🙂 But family is different. You certainly don’t get to pick who your siblings are, and I know that I am lucky to have the close relationships that I do with my brothers. We are all so very different, but I think that’s part of the reason why we like each other…and part of the reason that we are who we are. Plus, we always have so much fun with each other.

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Alex, Me, and Jake: Wildwood 2013

Today, it’s all about the baby of the family…Jake. His birthday is on Sunday and I am feeling nostalgic, so I started looking through old photos! I am 23, Alex is 20, and Jake is about to turn 16. I know from pictures and stories that I was really excited to be a big sister when Alex was born. I couldn’t wait to have someone to play with! He was always game for my imaginary games…house, school, you know. The fun kid stuff. 🙂 And Alex was always good at making me go outside and ride bikes or play in the yard. We complemented each other well. But when Jake was born…that was different. I was 7 years old at the time, so I actually remember being excited about a new sibling. Alex, of course, wanted a brother, and I, of course, wanted a sister…because I already had a little brother and who needs more than one of those?! 😉

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It was Monday afternoon…I was in first grade…in library class…and I was actually taking a book off the shelf when my teacher told me I had a new baby brother. The details that I remember make me laugh! How does your brain decide what to remember?! A baby brother was a-okay with me…then I didn’t have to share my room. 😉

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Jake was my favorite little person to play with. I didn’t need my baby dolls anymore because now I had one of my own! Three can be a weird number…but we always played well together (for the most part) and we learned how to handle the number three. Alex and Jake are (obviously) closer in age and boys…so they have that special brother bond. But there’s definitely a special brother-sister bond and a special older sister bond that I get to have.

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When Jake was little, my parents told him all.the.time. that they sprinkled “little dust” on him in his sleep so that he would stay the baby forever. Usually we all laughed when they said this, and then it got to a point where it made Jake cry because he didn’t want to be a baby forever! Hahaha

There are a few pictures of Jake and I from over the years that almost look like they have been replicated…and it’s so crazy to see how the two of us have changed!

From biking…

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…to boating…

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…to selfies…

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…to Steeler games…

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…to band concerts at school…

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…little dust be damned! Look how big he got! Not going to lie, the band concert picture is one that I made him replicate. The others are ones that I found in our photo albums that just happen to match…but when he played his last band concert in middle school, I knew we had to get another picture so we could put them side by side. 🙂 It’s weird to be the big sister sometimes because you see your younger siblings become who they are going to be! I remember being so annoyed when Jake finally got an opinion on what radio station we listened to in the car. Hahaha

One of the best things about Jake is just getting to hang out with him! Just like Alex complements me, so does Jake. He and I are nothing alike and yet we like and do so many of the same things.

We both like to eat pizza…

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…and ride bikes still…

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…but he likes volleyball. And we know that I have no team sport coordination. But I am a really good cheerleader, so I watch. 🙂

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He doesn’t love to run so much, but he does love to run with me!

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Siblings who work out together…are beasts.

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He loves heights and SkyCoasters and all things scary…so sometimes I’m a daredevil too.

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And we do all things ridiculous. Like playing on playgrounds and crawling in tiny spaces. Because life is too short not to have fun.

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How did we ever fit in that doorway?!

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Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum: Baltimore 2014

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Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum: Baltimore 2014

On Sunday, the boy turns 16. Ah!!! I am always so sentimental for birthdays. How are they this old? How did they get this big? You know, all those silly questions adults ask ME when I have a birthday that typically are very annoying…yeah, I go and do the same thing. I hate when other people make a big deal about how “big” I am, but when you are the big sister watching people grow up, you’re allowed to be sentimental, right?! After all, I taught him everything he knows. 😉

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I have two younger brothers…but I only have one YOUNGEST brother…and Jake is the best at that.

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4th of July 2014: Washington, D.C.

He is super smart, funny, and inquisitive. He listens to horrible rap music but I forgive him because sometimes I like horrible rap music. 😉 He makes me go in all the “boy” stores at the mall but at least he comes to the mall with me. He has made me come to hate the show Ridiculousness but come to love the show Bones. Everyone needs a little mystery! I love him so much. Happy early birthday, Jake!

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