Things I Love Lately

Here are a few things that have been making me happy lately:

I’m not one of those people who loves to work out just for the sake of working out. I really wish that I was, but I’m not. If I’m putting in the work, I want to see and/or feel something  happening. With that said, my current routine of Fitness Blender’s 4-Week Booty Boot Camp and their 4-Week Upper Body Program is not only challenging me but also making me feel stronger and notice some increased muscle definition. I saw this great thing on Instagram that I loved and am trying to embrace:

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I had some great talks with my sister-in-law while she was here about how great it is to see athletes in the spotlight, most recently in the CrossFit Games and Olympic gymnastics team, who show an alternative female body type than mainstream media promotes but  that is beautiful, capable and strong. And I’m all for that. After all, thick thighs save lives.

If you’re looking for a great lower body workout, this one is my favorite. If you really push yourself, you’ll be good and sore for a few days.


Instagram: elisabethontheroad
I am so in love with this instagram account.


The photography is top-notch, the locations are beautiful and it’s really making me want to go out and adventure. I first encountered this account when looking up information about going to Iceland (someday, maybe!) and her photos were amazing. Most recently she’s given me the desire to go to Glacier National Park and Banff.


Doing Nerdy Things
Sometimes I feel like I don’t spend enough time doing things that challenge my brain. I haven’t read nearly as much as I used to since I became a mom and sometimes it just takes a small thing to make me feel like my brain isn’t atrophying.
Rebekah made Dan and Joanna this really cool world map, and to do so, she needed a full-sized map to base it on. When she was done, I grabbed it and tried to name as many countries as I could. I was loving every minute of it. I’m pretty proud that I could correctly place 33 countries in Africa as well as most of Europe and Asia, from memory.

My sister Nikki introduced me to this game and it’s kind of embarrassing how much I enjoy getting to use my random trivia knowledge and problem solving skills. Monkey Wrench is my new jam.


This Dry Rub Recipe
IMG_1100The Country Basket nailed this dry rub. I randomly found it online and it’s become part of our regular rotation. I’ve both grilled chicken and baked it using this rub and it’s been so good both times. Try it – you won’t regret it.


Christmas Shopping
Yes, you read that right. No, I’m not crazy. Well, maybe I am. Thanks to my handy-dandy countdown app (another Nikki recommendation), I know that there are 125 days until Christmas.
And while that is still a lot of time, the next few months are about to be crazy with Stephen’s annual guys trip, a wedding, football, packing & moving, potentially buying a house, etc. So, in an effort to save myself a little stress, I’m compiling a list now and purchasing items as we go. Which just means I get to enjoy the process a little longer and spread out the layout of cash.

I’d love to hear some things you love lately!


Five Things Friday

It’s been a little over three months since my last installment of Five Things Friday, so now seemed like a good time to pretend like I blog on a regular basis.


1. By far the craziest thing that happened this week is that after 31 years of hair virginity, I dyed my hair. Well, to be fair, this is really how it went down:
After discussing dying my hair on multiple occasions with my sister-in-law, I finally pulled the trigger. Stuff like this is totally outside of my comfort zone, but let’s face it, my comfort zone has only gotten smaller as I’ve gotten older. Joanna showed up at my house with Starbucks and 3 shades of dye in hand and then we sat down with Rebekah and discussed my options. Though we had planned on a semi-permanent, the only option there was not really the color I was looking for. So, I committed and went with permanent.
Aaaaand now I’m a redhead! It took me a few minutes to process having hair of a different color, but I really like it. It looks totally different depending on where I am standing and the lighting, which is pretty cool. Stephen likes it. Jonathan could not care less, haha.

2. It’s Summer Olympics season, which is amazing. I look forward to these couple of weeks every year, because even though I don’t care about most of these sports any other time, I do enjoy watching the USA dominate. ‘Merica. Gymnastics is by far my favorite, and watching the Final Five crush their routines the other night and take home the gold was incredible. I still remember watching the Magnificent Seven in Atlanta in 1996, when I was 11 years old, and thinking Dominique Moceanu’s floor routine to “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” was the best thing I had ever seen. In the spirit of the Olympics, and watching more Olympic Weightlifting this year than ever before, this image made me laugh entirely too hard:

Well played, Crossfit South Bay, well played.

3. Stephen’s sister, Rebekah, has been living with us this summer before she goes back to Baylor for her junior year. We’ve all loved having her here, but none so much as Jonathan, who LOVES his “Uncle Bekah.” From the moment she walks in the door from work it’s “Hi Uncle Bekah. What are you doing Uncle Bekah? How are you doing Uncle Bekah?” Watching those two together has brought me so much joy. He wants to sit down and eat “milk and Cheerios” with her in the mornings and sit in her lap as we watch Harry Potter in the evenings. He’s going to be so sad when she goes back to Texas, but it’ll just make Christmas that much sweeter.

4. Our summer has been so crazy with vacations and family in town that we haven’t spent nearly enough time at local splash pads or any time at our neighborhood pool! It’s crazy to think it’s August and the local kids are back in school already after what must have seemed like the shortest summer in history. We’re looking forward to taking advantage of some splashing with friends before they close on Labor Day.


5. BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) starts in September and I can’t wait for it to get here! Having that weekly Bible study last year was such an amazing part of our week and I am so looking forward to studying John this year. The kids ministry is so great for Jonathan as well. It’s the one “standing appointment” Jonathan and I have every week and even that one little thing is really grounding for us. Okay, maybe only for me but Jonathan loves it too. And now that he’s a little older and will be placed in a group of older children, I can’t wait to hear all of the amazing things he learns!





6 Years in Colorado

Six years ago today, we arrived at our home in Colorado. Married for not quite four months, Stephen and I were newlyweds embarking on a big adventure in a state with no family close by and for me, none of my closest friends. Over the last six years, we’ve grown and changed as individuals, a couple and a family. We’ve added a precious son. We’ve had every one of Stephen’s siblings live with us at some point along the way. We’ve gained a new sister. We’ve made or maintained great friendships. We’ve had a lot of visitors and seen some pretty beautiful things.

Five years ago, I wrote a blog about what I had learned since moving to Colorado. A lot of those things still hold true. I still haven’t skied or snowboarded. I still have no plans to do so. The Denver Aquarium still has tigers and I still don’t know why. People from Colorado still really love being from Colorado. Except now it annoys me because “natives” are constantly complaining about people who have moved here, especially from California, ruining their state. It’s obnoxious. I still miss my friends and family back home, and am acutely aware of all of the things that I miss out on. The older our children get, the more I feel like I am missing in their lives, which really sucks. But, I am still very grateful for the friendships that I have made here and their children that get to grow up with Jonathan. We’ve been very blessed.

Since moving to Colorado, we’ve had some pretty big life changes. Stephen left his job at Starbucks after 11 years to pursue a new career path at Engrain. I became a stay at home mom, then went back to work for a while, then returned to staying home. Now I’m working part-time from home for Engrain, which will soon be renamed Rabon as four of us now work there. I started my own photography business, a huge step out of my comfort zone. We bought our first new car together, our first “major” purchase since we got married. Stephen started CrossFit in Colorado, a decision that shapes our lives daily.

We’ve explored some of the state, but honestly probably not as much as we should have in six years.

I think I’m going to work on a “Colorado Bucket List” of things I want to do here in the state to work on over the next few years. Be on the lookout for a new tab on the top of this page. Though mine will probably be much different from most Coloradans as I have no intentions of hiking every 14er in the state. I haven’t assimilated that much.

Mike and Marcie are returning to Colorado in October, which will give us a new adventure to embark on. We’ll be moving out of the house we have called home for the last six years and either becoming homeowners or renting an apartment in preparation of buying a house. This is yet to be determined. By the seventh year of life in Colorado, I hope to be able to say we are settled into our own home and learning all kinds of things about the joy of home ownership. I might even actually decorate Jonathan’s room to celebrate. Poor baby still has a very gender neutral room from us not finding out his gender prior to birth. I’m foreseeing Star Wars everything.

So here’s to you, Colorado, for six years and who knows how many more to come. I’d raise a Coors Light to you, but beer is gross. So maybe next time we have some Stranahan’s available I’ll raise a glass to six years together. If you could go easy on the snow this year, it’d be much appreciated.


Two and a Half


It’s hard to believe two and a half years have passed since Jonathan came into our lives. He’s such an incredible kid and my little best friend. When he’s not performing a death-defying feats of climbing, he’s trying to keep up with his daddy and uncles by trying to CrossFit with them. He loves books and reading, but also needs a lot of gross motor stimulation. Running, jumping and lightsaber battles are often the name of the game. He loves music and can be found conducting some Bach along with the conductor in Fantasia, dancing to upbeat songs or humming along to the Star Wars theme song. He especially loves when his Uncle Matt lets him play his piano or guitar. His favorite song is the Disturbed cover of “The Sound of Silence,” which he tries to sing along to including making his voice raspy when needed.

An airplane and a rock, what more does a boy need in life?

An airplane and a rock, what more does a boy need in life?

Jonathan’s vocabulary is extensive now and he’s speaking in full sentences more often. It’s amazing how much this little sponge absorbs from our conversations, the shows he watches, the books we read and the world around him. Some of my favorite Jonathan-isms are:

  • He calls berries, “babies.” Ex: strawbabies
  • Thanks to one of his favorite shows, Trotro, he sometimes calls water “WAH-ta” (water in a British accent) and occasionally calls things “lovely”
  • “Fall down the window” = roll down the window
  • He calls Stephen’s sister “Uncle Bekah” – the kid has a lot of uncles, so obviously that’s what all people he loves are!
  • “Jonathan Strong Baby/Daddy Strong Baby/Mama Strong Baby/Uncle Dan Strong Baby, etc” : Basically what he calls anyone who is working out/stretching
  • “Strong Baby” also refers to him holding two people’s hands and then removing his feet from the ground so that those two, often unsuspecting, people have to carry him
  • “Mamas Carry You” = he wants me to carry him
  • “Say Hi” – our little extrovert needs to say hi to everyone and everything. If we go through a drive thru, he wants me to roll down his window so he can say hi to the person working the window. He saw guys outside working on our lawn, he asks to say hi. Sometimes we also say hi to trucks and tractors.
  • He calls the Cat in the Hat “Kitty Cat the Hat”
  • He tries to sign “I love you” and then whispers “I love you” while he does it
  • He’s still obsessed with the moon and when he sees it, he emphatically says “moooooooooooon!”
  • He shakes people’s hands now and says “Nice to meet you”

The best thing of all are those completely unprompted I love yous that he’s started giving out. Melts. My. Heart.


In his brief two-and-a-half years, he has been to:

  • 6 weddings (+2 if you count when I was pregnant)
  • 14 states
  • 9 airports

He’s a pretty well-traveled kid. And he does pretty well traveling. He was a total champ on our 18 hour drive to my cousin’s wedding in February. And on planes he does great except for having to put on his seat belt. He is decidedly NOT a fan.


We’ve had to lower his crib mattress to the floor to prevent break outs. While we were at Mom’s house he learned how to escape from the pack & play, a skill which he easily translated to his crib back home. Hopefully this buys us some time as I am not prepared for Jonathan to have the freedom of movement that a toddler bed would allow him. Maybe when we buy a house and have fully anchored all items to the walls and have figured out the best way to keep him in his own room so that he isn’t wandering the house at ungodly hours of the morning. MAYBE.


He loves rocks, dirt, cars, trucks, airplanes and tractors. He’s 100% boy. He also really likes barns, hence the location of this photo set.





Things I Love Lately Part Deux

Inspired by the lovely and talented Nikki over at Just Glass on the Outside here are a few things that currently make me happy. As she said, I am not compensated for these words but if anyone wants to fund my habits, I’m totally okay with that!

Halo Top Ice Cream

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So thanks to the Ibotta app, I discovered a new ice cream to love. Now I would love to eat pint upon pint of Ben & Jerry’s Americone Dream daily, but I can eat an ENTIRE PINT of Halo Top‘s delicious ice cream for the caloric value of 1/4 of a pint of B&J’s. I’m not sure what kind of voodoo is used to create this glorious concoction, but by some magic this low-sugar, low-carb, high-protein, no synthetic growth hormone, gluten-free and kosher dairy ice cream tastes amazing. I tried the birthday cake flavor and it was just like the sweet cream from Coldstone. I’m considering putting some in my coffee because that sounds like heaven. And right now (through 6/24), Ibotta has a rebate for $1.50 back on a pint of Halo Top so I’m definitely grabbing another pint when I go to the store today. I think I’ll try the mint chip next!


Better Place by Rachel Platten

This song makes me think of my husband and it makes me all mushy. Plus, I just watched this music video for the first time and the concept is so cute that it just made me like this song even more.


Sirius XM Radio

For Mother’s Day, my boys got me another year of Sirius XM Radio and I love it. My main stations are The Highway, Hits1, 90s on 9, Pop2K, 80s on 8, The Pulse, Octane and The Message. Basically I get to play DJ every time I drive. There’s nostalgia with the 90s on 9 and Pop2k for sure. It makes me want to go on ALL THE ROADTRIPS because I’ll always have good music. Soooo, who wants to road trip with me?


Boomerang App

As usual I’m pretty late to the party but making short videos of Jonathan doing things repeatedly is terribly amusing. Like the time we got to Chipotle a few minutes before it opened and he really wanted his quesadilla and some chips:


My Fitbit

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So I’ve had a Fitbit for a few years now but then a certain tiny tornado found it and then I could not. But, it has been recovered and I’ve been wearing it faithfully for about two weeks. I don’t have particularly high goals for it, but I do like that it keeps me mindful of ways to move more. Like parking further away at the grocery store. I also just added people as friends on Fitbit and I’m not entirely sure what that entails but it sounded like fun at the time. Also, I may or may not have walked up and down our stairs and around the house a few times last night because I was super close to the goal number. And my husband may or may not have laughed at me.



Just over a week ago, I was having a normal Friday night with my husband binge watching LOST (Yes, I am about 10 years behind the rest of the world) when we heard a knock on the door. Now at 10:30pm, I am usually sleeping soundly, and having just been watching a show where people regularly hallucinate, imagine my utter confusion when I walked to the door and saw my sister, Nikki, holding her son standing outside my door. I basically just stared for a minute or two before realizing that I wasn’t dreaming (or hallucinating) and opened the door.

Nikki’s car was “broken.” She was “going to Boise” that weekend to visit her sister-in-law.

Web. of. lies.

Nikki had been collaborating with Stephen for months to surprise me. And boy, was I surprised!

After trying to wrap my head around what was happening, Nikki, Aaron and Milo came in and got settled into the room that Stephen had somewhat sneakily prepared for them.

What followed was exactly the kind of weekend that people who live far away from their loved ones wish for all the time. A weekend filled with taking our children to the park together, eating simple meals and most of all just talking and catching up for hours. It was good for my soul.


So tired but so happy!


Cousin breakfast time




Throwing balls from the balcony is the most fun ever.





Cousins enrapt in The Force Awakens


And I get to see them all again in Vacaville in a few weeks!

Five Things Friday

1. We got to spend a night in the mountains at The Silver Lake Lodge to celebrate our sixth wedding anniversary last weekend. It is such a great little place and we already are trying to plan the next trip back! Hopefully we can make it up during the summer so that we can enjoy the beautiful deck and go on a little hike up St. Mary’s Glacier. The other guests were raving about the dinners there, so we definitely want to try to eat at the lodge next time. We couldn’t help but go to Beau Jo’s since we were in Idaho Springs.


This was the view from the Fireplace Room while we were there. The snow made for a picturesque view, for sure. This was also our first time both being away from Jonathan overnight. I surprised myself by how calm I was about that, haha. But he was with his Uncle Brandon, Aunt Meghan and Camden so I knew he was in good hands. He is still talking about all the fun they had so I think we all got a great weekend out of the deal.


2. Spring is really trying to get here in Colorado. Two weekends ago, we had a blizzard and got 2 feet of snow at our house. Then last weekend, we got home from our getaway to a lovely, warm day and the tree out front blossoming.


And now it is snowing again all weekend. This isn’t surprising in Colorado, it’s just annoying. I’m over it being cold and I just want all the days to be warm and to get to take Jonathan outside to parks and to play with the neighbors. When it is warm, we’ll spend a few hours outside in the afternoons and he loves every second of it. When it snows, we stay in and he literally runs circles around me, the kitchen island, the main floor of the house, and anyone else who comes along.


3. For those who don’t know, I recently started a part-time, work from home position with the company Stephen works for. It’s been good to make a little extra money and I work when Jonathan is napping, so it doesn’t take away from my time with him. The other day I was doing some location scouting for a property in NYC and came across The Library Hotel and now I’m obsessed with it. I’ve never really felt like I “had to” go to NYC, but now I do. And I’d be perfectly happy to stay in the hotel reading room and soak in the awesomeness and not do anything else. Although, now thanks to work, I know some good restaurants in the area, so maybe we could leave to eat.


4. BSF is coming to an end next week, and I am totally bummed because it has been awesome! So, I wanted to find a study to do over the summer to stay in my Bible. I’m scrolling instagram and the lovely people over at She Reads Truth announced that they are putting out a summer study on the book of Acts. Well within minutes I had ordered the She + He bundle so Stephen and I will be studying Acts together this summer! I’m really excited and this study book looks beautiful!


5.  The new Douglas County Library in Castle Pines opened on April 21 and Jonathan attended story time there this week to check it out! It is easily 4x the size of our old library. The children’s section is really big now and all the space allowed for more fun things for Jonathan to do. They have this really cool “Lite Brite-inspired” wall with lights that change color when you twist them. He loved that! We look forward to many more trips this summer. They even have a special Star Wars “May the Fourth Be With You” event next week that we might HAVE TO check out.


Yes, he is trying to eat the bubbles.