Back-to-school wishes

I’m sitting here awake so much later than I planned on the eve of back-to-school thinking about the kids. This year, I have one in 7th grade, one in 5th grade, and the twins in 3rd grade. I feel like just yesterday I was watching Alexandra get on the bus for kindergarten. Time is most certainly flying. 

I am also thinking about my wishes and expectations for them. These have changed over the years. When I was first a mom, I wanted certain things out of them academically speaking – near perfect grades, studious, self-motivated, every assignment completed following all directions and on time. In short, I wanted little clones of me. I was hit with a very hard lesson – they are not me. No matter how much I wanted them to follow my lead in school, it wasn’t going to happen for all of them. And that is okay. They are themselves, nothing more and nothing less. 

Instead of straight As and copious school accolades, I have a better, more important list of wishes for Alexandra, Adrianna, Cole, and Cael. Kids, listen up! 

Be the kids who…

  • Are respectful to all teachers, school staff, and other students.
  • Stand up to bullies if they pick on other kids; never join in. 
  • Invite a kid who looks left out to sit with you at lunch or play with you during recess.
  • Actively ask for help if you don’t understand something. Taking the initiative shows a lot about your character. 
  • Don’t give up when you encounter a challenge. Keep working to overcome it.
  • Take responsibility for your actions whether it is missed homework, talking too much in class, or not listening during a lesson.
  • Realize your self-worth doesn’t come from other kids thinking you are cute/pretty/handsome. You are so much more than that.
  • Are strong enough to stand up to peer pressure. You know what is expected of you and what is acceptable behavior at home. 
  • Speak your opinions clearly and with regard for others who may not hold the same opinion. 

    Good luck, kiddles! I love you. Best wishes for a wonderful school year.


    Run for Suds 5K Recap



    For those of you familiar with my running, you know I love long distances. Give me a half or a full marathon any day; however, I am starting to embrace the suck that is a 5K. 5Ks, though short, are a full-out pain fest, in my opinion. My legs feel like lead about half a mile into the race, and my lungs are screaming for mercy. I managed to snag my last 5K PR in September 2015 when I ran the Downtown Willoughby 5K, and I was incredibly pleased with that accomplishment. Still, as I started to get faster and train harder, I was interested to see what I could do. Coincidentally, I found the most perfect race – the Chardon Brewfest Run for Suds 5K. Running and craft beer? Sign me up! I also aggressively cohered encouraged my dad, sister, and brother-in-law to join in the fun.

    To prep for this race, I did something I had never done before – made speedwork a priority and a regular part of my training. Being able to run intervals on the local high school’s track was key. I felt like a gazelle flying around the track but with much stumpier legs and a lot less fast, but whatever, it was awesome and addictive. When I would look down at my watch during 400s and see a pace in the low 6s, I was like, “Holy crap! This is what it feels like to be Ryan or Jess or Pam or Steve or Jamie any of my other super fast running friend!!!”

    My big race day was quickly approaching – Saturday, August 12. Dad and I arrived at packet pick-up super early. I am not sure why I am always paranoid there is going to be a long line, but I am and that makes for a lot of standing around. Sarah, Rhett, her friend Stephanie, and my niece and nephew arrived shortly after. The kids were beyond excited for “their race” and the fact they would receive a medal at the end for running (truth: Sarah and Rhett did all the running while pushing them in a double stroller contraption with at least 100 pounds of weight…beast mode!).

    Before the race started, I was scoping out the competition. I saw a few ladies who I figured were on the quicker side, and there were two young girls, around my oldest daughter’s age, who looked like cross country runners. Since they were lined up right in the front, I figured they were planning to fly. Things going through my head before the start of the race –

    • Steph, did you see the overall winner awards? Wouldn’t it be cool to get one of those?
    • Little girls can’t appreciate those Das Boot beer mugs, so you better run your ass off.
    • I hope you don’t crash and burn on the hills!
    • Sweet Jesus, stomach, please cooperate for this race!!!

    Then…we were off! I was thankful I warmed up a little before the start of the race because I didn’t feel as though I was instantly dying. It also helped that the very beginning of the race was downhill. The cross country girls were fast like I suspected, but I hung right with them. The one little girl was leading until around mile 1, but I got ahead of her as we circled the square in Chardon. That is right; I was LEADING the women’s race, on a hilly course no less!

    After rounding the square, we had a brief respite with some downhill, but after making a turn, it was back to rolling hills. At the second mile mark, I was still hanging strong but could feel myself getting tired. ONE MORE MILE! I could do this.

    We had a turn around mile 2.3, and then it was one long, uphill stretch until the finish. I kept checking the pace on my watch and cursing my legs to go faster. I was starting to get a little sick to my stomach because my body was not used to going that speed for that long, but I kept pushing. When I hit mile 3, I was both happy and a little defeated. I am no distance wiz, but I knew we still had more than .1 mile left on the course. My goal was to come in under 23 minutes on their clock, and I knew it wasn’t going to happen.

    The sadness was short-lived because when I made the final turn into the parking lot, I saw the race organizers stretching the ribbon across. That was truly a “HOLY SHIT” moment for me because, obviously, that had never happened before and may not happen again. I smiled, pushed on, and broke the ribbon with a huge smile on my face!

    It took a few minutes for me to catch my breath, wipe the copious amounts of sweat off my face, and process what actually happened. Then it was time to cheer on my family. I was so proud when I saw my dad coming down the finish, and he was running his butt off! He looked tired but ran an excellent race, especially considering he does not run! Next in were Sarah and Rhett with their littles in the stroller. I was shocked at how quickly they finished and was thankful it was them and not me pushing them up those hills.

    After the awards, it was time to celebrate with a post-race beverage at my parents’ house and the Chardon Brewfest. Run all the miles; drink all the beer, am I right?! It was the perfect ending to my new 5K PR and best race ever! Thanks, Great Lakes Race Timing, for yet another awesome race! Looking forward to running more with you!



    I am…

    Well, this is my very first post on my new blog, and it feels oh so good to be back. In what feels like a lifetime ago, I blogged at stephplusfour, but I needed a fresh start, a change, so here it is. It feels liberating and comforting to start over, a blank slate. Many of you know me or at least have an impression of me, which could be both good or bad at this point. Some of you may not, so here it is.

    I am…

    • a mother of four wonderful and crazy children
    • an extroverted introvert
    • a distance runner
    • a failed wife and fiancée
    • a public health professional
    • a people-pleaser
    • a perfectionist
    • insecure
    • inappropriate at times
    • an obnoxiously and apologetically loud laugher and clapper
    • a hot mess
    • a daughter to two awesome parents
    • caring and kind, sometimes to a fault
    • the oldest sister (which my middle sister reminds me of all the time)
    • a former cheerleader (but wishing I could do it all over again)
    • a person who doesn’t eat all her dinner to gorge on dessert
    • always questioning whether I am good enough in all aspects of life
    • a reader of gossip magazines (thanks, Gram!)
    • nervous to speak my opinion
    • a lover of chocolate and craft beer
    • worried I have messed up my children
    • constantly checking out my crow’s feet in the mirror
    • someone who loves and appreciates good grammar, even though I don’t always follow it on my blog
    • loves going to the dentist
    • lucky because I always find four-leaf clovers

    I AM ME! Perfectly imperfect, hoping each year bring some enlightenment that leads me to the revelation that I am fine just the way I am, that I am enough, that I am happy as me. All I know is I feel like my life is on the right path. I feel good about myself, despite my faults, and the kids are happy and thriving. What more could I ask for in life?

    Thanks for reading and being part of this journey with me. If anything, I hope you at least get a little enjoyment from my happiness and, at times, misery. Much love to you all.