My 2 Year Divorceaversary

It's not selfish to love yourself, take

Last week I celebrated my two-year divorceaversay. And by celebrated, I mean that I acknowledged the date and congratulated myself for being where I am today. In a happier place.

Since I am someone who has been through a divorce I naturally have a few pet peeves about some divorce related “issues” so I thought that I would share them with you.

The way that I view divorce is that it is something that you go through, it is not something that defines you.

As far as I am concerned you are either single, married or going through a divorce. Sure there are lots of other relationship statuses out there but for brevity sake, I am going to narrow it done to those three. The reason that I bring this up is because whenever I am filling out paperwork, be it a the doctor’s office, at work, for B’s school, etc there is always a box under marital status that says divorced.

I rarely check that box. More often than not, I check the box that says single. I only check the divorced box if I am filling out paperwork for B and I want them to understand that his Dad and I are not married. That’s it.

As I said before divorce is something I have gone through, it is not who I am now. I am not divorced, I have gone through a divorce. See the difference?

I know it may seem silly to some, but if I never get married again, it seems kind of ridiculous that I would be checking divorced as my status for the rest of my life.

Okay, on to my next pet peeve. You all know I love me some social media. But when people share memes that talk about how they sit down and work stuff out instead of getting a divorce or other similar types of memes, I cringe.

I am sure you have seen what I am talking about but just in case you haven’t here are a few examples.




I get why people post them, I do. No one wants to get a divorce. At least not at the beginning anyway. And no one gets married thinking that it won’t last. But sharing these types of images and quotes is a disservice to everyone.

Relationships are not as simple as the memes would like you to think. At least none that I have been in anyways. And more often than not, if someone is contemplating getting a divorce or has already started the divorce process they have probably already tried to sit down and work things out. Unfortunately, some relationships just can’t be “fixed”.

I have come to realize that some relationships are just not meant to last forever. What may be right for you in your 20’s may be completely wrong for you in your 30’s. And there should be no shame in realizing that the relationship no longer fits you anymore.

Life is too short not to be happy. So choose happiness for yourself no matter what box you check under marital status.

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Wicked Halloween Run Recap

This past Sunday Chris and I ran the Wicked Halloween Run! Naturally Chris got his recap up before I did so if you want to see what he thought of the race you can head over to his blog by clicking here.

This race kind of snuck up on us since we have had such a busy month. As such, I didn’t put much thought into my costume but I still managed to throw together a few items and go as Rainbow Brite.


The Wicked Halloween run is put on by the Kona Running Company and since we have done several of their races we now know exactly where to park, where packet pick up is and where the start line in. This made race morning incredibly smooth for us and we ended up with plenty of time to spare before the 10k got started.

It was a bit cool at the start of the race but overall the weather was perfect for running! (Let’s hope that is the case when we run the Kona Chocolate Run in November.)

Chris and I had no plans for the race other than to have fun and finish so we took our time and stayed together for the entire route. The best part of the race was seeing all of the costumes that people were wearing! Some people were very creative. One woman was a refrigerator (made out of a cardboard box) and when she ran by, the back of the costume said something about the refrigerator is running you better go catch it. How she ran in that costume for 6.2 miles is beyond me. It looked like she had to hold the box with her hands to keep it on.

As usual Kona put on a great race! There were scare stations where different costumed people were cheering for the runners, aid stations and port-a-pottys on the course, finish line music, great race swag and tasty post race food (Panera bagels and cookies!). The icing on the cake was that the race director was at the finish line thanking runners for running the race. He has done that at the other Kona races this year as well but it still never ceases to impress me.


This race was the third race of the Kona Grand Slam series. Just one more race to go and Chris and I will both earn the bonus medal for doing all four races this year!

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Nadine West Review October 2014

Nadine West

I just received my second Nadine West shipment!

As you may remember, I received my first Nadine West package in September and you can read all about it by clicking here.

Nadine West is similar to Stich Fix (and you all know how much I LOVE Stich Fix from my last review) but it dubs itself as being a more affordable alternative. I think that Nadine West has a lot of potential and as a new company they have a lot of growing pains to get through before they can reach the level that I believe that Stitch Fix is on. I will explain why I feel that way later in the post but first let’s take a look at what I got this month.

Item #1: Cozy for Sheer! Navy Top

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I did not care for the fit or style of this top at all. In fact when I took it out of the package I really didn’t even want to put it on. I did eventually try it on but it was just as meh on as it was on the hanger. The cost to keep it would have been $21.29 but I had no interest in it.

Status: Returned

Item #2: A Cute Angle Earrings

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As a general rule, I do not like gold jewelry. And even if they were silver I still don’t think I would like these earrings. The cost to keep these earrings would have been $9.99.

Status: Returned

Item #3: Sparkling Arrow Pendant

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This necklace was just okay to me. Nothing spectacular and it felt a bit cheap in my opinion. I certainly didn’t think it was worth the its price tag of $21.99 to keep it.

Status: Returned

As you can see, I didn’t keep a single thing from this month’s Nadine West Shipment. Quite honestly the whole package was a bit meh, for lack of a better word. Overall I felt that the items were of a lower quality than what I prefer and the items were not a good fit for my style.

As I mentioned at the beginning of my post, I think that Nadine West has a lot of potential. They have a great concept and unlike Stitch Fix there is no styling fee so you really have nothing to lose if you sign up to give them a try.

I am optimistic that Nadine West will continue to improve so I look forward to seeing what comes my way next month!

Have you tried Nadine West? What are your thoughts?


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The 13th Gift Book Review

This post was inspired by The 13th Gift by Joanne Huist Smith, memoir about how  random acts of kindness transformed her family’s bereavement and grief during the holidays. Join From Left to Write on October 28th as we discuss The 13th Gift. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.


I knew when I signed up to review this book that the book would probably hit a little too close to home for me and I was right. For those that don’t know, just like the characters in The 13th Gift, I lost a loved one during the holiday season. For me it was my Dad and I was 13 at the time. So although the book made me shed some tears it also reminded me of some of the gifts that my family was given during that difficult time in our lives.

I grew up in a very small town. Very very small. My graduating class from high school was 67 people if I remember correctly and at the time we were one of the biggest classes to come through the school. Growing up in a town that small has its advantages and disadvantages. One of which (and it can go to either side of the spectrum) is that everyone knows everything about everyone. So when my Dad passed away, everyone knew about it.

And as much as I didn’t like the attention (I just wanted everyone to treat me the same, being 13 was hard enough) I was and I still am appreciative of all of the gifts that were bestowed upon us.

We had people stopping by all the time dropping off casseroles and other food. Other people helped my Mom complete some of the house projects that my Dad never got to finish. Someone even had our wood furnace replaced with a gas furnace so that my Mom wouldn’t have to worry about it. Basically the entire community rallied behind us to help in any way that they could.

And while nothing could make up for my Dad being absent from our lives, those gifts that we were given made all the difference in helping us pick up the pieces and move forward.

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Trifecta Thoughts

Spartan Trifecta (2)

Now that my Trifecta goal has been accomplished I figured I would recap my experience as a whole and let you know what I thought about it.

As you may already know, one of my goals for 2014 was to achieve the Spartan Race Trifecta. To do so all I had to do was run a Spartan Sprint, Super and Beast all in one calendar year. Sounds simple enough, right?

I would say the most difficult part was trying to figure out when and where we would run each of the three distances. Unfortunately Spartan has yet to come to Michigan (maybe next year???) so in order to complete the goal we had to go out of state. We certainly don’t mind traveling, we do have a travel blog too after all, but travelling for all three races did add extra expenses to our goal.

We ended up doing the Sprint in Indiana. That was our first taste of Spartan Race and we were quite impressed with the course and our experience overall. You can read my full recap of the Indiana race by clicking here. We ran the Super in Chicago which you can read about here and then one week later we ran the Beast in Ohio. Click here to read the Beast recap.

I do think having the Super and Beast a week a part was a bit much for us. It really didn’t give us enough time to recover but it had to be done because those locations were the best options for us to tackle the Super and Beast distances.

As a whole I really enjoyed my Spartan experiences. I found the terrain on the courses to be unlike any obstacle course race that I had run before. The obstacles were challenging but not gimmicky and the obstacles varied at each location giving each race a unique experience. The camaraderie at the races was unexpected and appreciated. For those reasons and many others, Spartan quickly became my favorite OCR.

At the end of the three races I collected three Spartan shirts, all exactly the same unfortunately, and 6 medals. Three of the medals were for finishing the individual races and the other three medals were the pie shaped Trifecta pieces that formed one big medal. Spartan was very smart to introduce the pie shaped medals in addition to the regular medals as I am sure it inspired a lot of people to accomplish the Trifecta this year.

So would I do it again? ABSOLUTELY! And it appears that Spartan is going to be changing things up for next year. Here is a teaser from one of their recent emails.


I’m not sure about the new obstacles….alligators??? lol But I am definitely on board with the different color finisher tees as I had mentioned that idea in one of my recap posts!


Did you run any Spartan Races this year? What did you think of them?

What are your thoughts on the proposed changes for 2015?



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Stitch Fix Review #3: October 2014

Disclosure: This post contains referral links that will help support my Stitch Fix addiction. All sign ups through my referral link are greatly appreciated!

Stitch Fix Review

In case you are not familiar with Stitch Fix, let me bring you up to speed. Stitch Fix is a monthly subscription service (although you don’t have to get one every month, you pick how often) that sends you clothes and accessories based on a style profile that you fill out. You can keep what you like and send back what you don’t. There is a $20 styling fee but if you keep any of the items, the $20 fee is deducted from the total purchase price of the items you keep. Basically it is like playing dress up as an adult…..and it is both fun and addicting! To sign up to get a fix of your own, click here!

Now lets take a look at what was in my fix this month!

Item #1: Tart Jessamy Twin Striped Cardigan (1)

In my notes to my stylist I requested the Clove Twist Black Striped Cardigan that you can see here on my Pinterest board. My stylist wasn’t able to get one for me in this fix so until she is able to track one down, she sent me this as an alternative. (2)

And although I liked this cardigan, I didn’t love it. I decided to send it back in hopes that I would eventually get the cardigan that I requested.

Status: Returned

Item #2: Level 99 Patrick Chino Pant (6)

I liked these pants but they were too big for me in the waist. Otherwise, I may have kept them as I don’t currently have a pair of brown pants and I did like them other than the sizing issue.

Status: Returned

Items #3: Uttam Dulce Crochet Overlay Belted Fit and Flare Dress (7)

This was another item that I liked but didn’t love. I try to only keep pieces that I fall in love with, so this one was sent back as well.

Status: Returned

Items #4: 41Hawthorn Filbert Grid Print Blouse (8)

I loved this shirt the minute I pulled it out of the box! The print, the color, the style….everything! I especially like the detail on the sleeve. (9)

Status: Kept!

Item #5: Street Level Jamie Print Folded Clutch

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I was really excited to get an accessory in this fix as I didn’t get one last month. Normally I do not like animal prints or anything gold. And although I still would have preferred silver hardware on this clutch, I still really love it.

Status: Kept!

So as you can see I only ended up keeping 2 of the 5 items that I was sent but I am ok with that. In all honesty, even if I only keep one item from a fix, that feels like a success to me. Stitch Fix gives me the opportunity to try on things that I may not have tried otherwise. It is a fun experience that I look forward to each month!

Want to see my past fixes? Click on a link below.

Fix #1: August 2014

Fix #2: September 2014

Want to get a fix of your own? Click here to sign up!

What did you think of my fix this month?

Are you a Stitch Fix fanatic? I would love to hear about your experiences!

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K5 Learning Review

Disclosure: B and I received a complimentary 6 week subscription to K5 Learning for review purposes. All opinions are ours.



Recently B received the opportunity to review K5 Learning an online reading and math program for kids in Kindergarten to Fifth Grade. We both jumped at the opportunity because 1)B loves doing things on the computer and 2) B has been struggling with reading so I was hoping this would help.

To get started all B had to do was take an assessment online and then he was good to go! B naturally gravitated to the Math portion of the training because it comes easier for him and he enjoys it more than reading. And although he enjoyed that part of the program better, he still enjoyed the reading and spelling portion as well. As I mentioned, he loves doing anything on the computer, so this felt more like a game to him than school work.

Do you have a child that you think might benefit from this program? You can head over to their website and sign up for a free 14 day trial offer. If you and your child end up liking the program it would just be $25 a month for one child or $199 for an annual subscription for one child. There is additional pricing options available if you have more than one child that you would like to enroll in the program.

B and I say you should definitely give it a try! Anything you can do to make learning more fun is a win in our book!

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.


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Looking ahead to 2015


There are only a couple of months left in 2014 (how the heck did that happen?) so naturally I am already trying to hammer out my race schedule for next year.

Okay, who am I trying to kid here? I have been “scheduling” races for 2015 since 2014 began. It’s just what I do. If I had it my way I would run all the races but logistics doesn’t allow that, for good reason. So races that I couldn’t get to this year, got put on the list for next year.

Technically I am only officially signed up for one race next year at this point but I thought it would be fun to take a look at the races that I am considering for 2015. Typically I do one race a month so I will have to make some compromises along the way.


Chris and I are doing the Star Wars Rebel Challenge at Disneyland in January! It will be both our first and second Disney race as the challenge involves us running a 10k on Saturday and a Half Marathon on Sunday. It was also be our first time at Disneyland and Chris’s first official half marathon (although he ran 14 miles at the Spartan Beast). As you can see there will be a lot of firsts and it should be a great experience!


I have nothing on the radar for February as of yet. Winter was pretty rough on us in Michigan here last year and to be quite honest,  I was pretty miserable during all of our Winter races. Maybe I will play it by ear and see how Mother Nature treats us.


I have several races that I am eyeing for March. One of which is Rock CF which is a race that I have been doing since its inception. The race is on Grosse Ile and it benefits Cystic Fibrosis. It is one of my favorite races as it is scenic, well-organized, has a great shirt, awesome medal and the best post race food.

The other two that I am considering doing are ones that I have not yet run. One of which is the Cork Town Race which is a St. Patty’s themed race and is one of the largest 5ks in Michigan. It has a fun party atmosphere and also a sweet medal.

The other race that I am considering isn’t a traditional race. It is the Fight for Air Climb which is held downtown Detroit at the Renaissance Center and it benefits the American Lung Association. And it is exactly as it sounds, a race up flights of stairs. The full climb is 70 floors and the half climb is 40 floors. I have never done anything like that and have been wanting to give it a go.


If the Indiana Spartan Sprint is held in April again we many consider doing it as we really enjoyed the course. Plus now that I have finally done some Spartan Races, I am HOOKED!

The bf and I also want to do the Serious Series this year which is a race series that involves three trail races. The first of which is in April and it is called the Trail Marathon. Don’t let the name fool you, there are other distances at the race other than marathon. We are eyeing the half marathon. This race is held on the Potowatami Trail and has been said to be a pretty tough course!


I think we may do the Back to the Beach run again in 2015 because we enjoyed it so much. You can click here to read all about it.

I would also really like to do Mud Guts and Glory which is dubbed as an extreme mud obstacle run. It is in Ohio so that is not too far away from us and it is an OCR event that we have not yet tried so it is calling my name.


In June we will be doing the second trail run of the year for the Serious Series. This one is called Flirt with Dirt and they have either a 5k or a 10k. I am sure we will do the 10k because it is double the fun.


Normally I would say that I would be running the Warrior Dash in July but I think we are going to skip it in 2015. We just weren’t very impressed with it when we ran it this past Summer. Or maybe once you start running Spartan Races, other races just start to not measure up.

Regardless, we are eyeing the Waugoshance Trail Marathon. In addition to the marathon they also offer a relay and a half marathon. I expect that we would do the half marathon. This race ends in Mackinaw City which is near where my Mom lives and it is near where I grew up. It seems like a great excuse to go visit my Mom if you ask me!


I have a lot of options that I am weighing for August. We will for sure be doing The Legend which is the third race of the Serious Series but I also have three OCRs that I am interested in . One is the Down and Dirty which we did this past Summer, the other is another Mud Guts and Glory race and the last one is Swamp Foot which is a local mud run that I have heard a lot about but I have yet to do. Decisions, decisions.


I really want to do the Hungerford Games trail run and this may finally be the year that I don’t have any other races that conflict with it. Yay! And this my friends, is the reason why I make lists of races that I want to do so I don’t forget about them. Because eventually I will do them.


Nothing is on the radar at this point.


Chris really wants to do the Wine and Dine race at Disney World. Since we are already registered for the Star Wars Race in January, 2015 may be our only opportunity to go for the Disney Coast to Coast challenge. The Coast to Coast Challenge is where you run a qualifying race at both Disneyland and Disney World to earn the coveted Coast to Coast medal. And while I am not against that idea, I just think it is a lot of Disney in one year and a lot of money. We shall see.


Again nothing on the radar for this month, although I may just go into hibernation mode for the Winter.

So after typing all of this out, it appears that 2015 is going to be the year of the trail races. I love trail races but I do feel my schedule is lacking in OCRs and mud runs. If I don’t get an adequate dosage of OCRs each year it is hazardous to my health. It’s a medical condition and OCRs are the medication. It is really out of my control.

S H A N N O N  L . A L D E R (2)

What races are you eyeing for 2015?

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My Running Shoe Arsenal

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There was a time when my running shoe collection was not really a collection at all. Instead it was just a single pair of shoes. Let’s all take a moment to reflect on those simpler times in my running journey.

Ahhhhhhh, that was a nice look down memory lane wasn’t it?

Times have certainly changed. And while I don’t have an enormous shoe collection like some other runners, I do have three different pairs of shoes that I wear for three very different purposes. And I am in love with each and every pair for very different reasons.

Let’s take a look at them shall we?

Altra Intuition 1.5

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These are my everyday street running shoes. They were my first pair of shoes that were zero drop (meaning the heel and forefoot are the same distance from the ground) and I immediately fell in love with them. I transitioned to them very easily but you should definitely give yourself time to adapt if you decide to take the plunge.

A unique thing about Altra shoes is that they have a wide toe box. Most running shoes are much narrower at the toe. This also takes some getting used to but now I wouldn’t want my shoe any other way.

The best way I can describe these shoes is that I feel like I am running in a pair of slippers. They are that comfy! But they are also supportive and durable enough to handle the miles that runners put on them.

Altra Superior Trail Shoe

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Since these are also Altra’s they are very similar to the Intuition’s that I talked about above but with one exception. These are made to tackle trails. The soles of these shoes are more aggressive in order to provide traction on the trails while still offering the same comfort factor and zero drop component as the Intuitions.

And while they are trail shoes I would not recommend them for mud runs or OCRs. For me they are too wide in the toe for obstacles, they retain water too easily and they don’t clean up as well.

Inov-8 Trailroc 226

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I did an in-depth post about these shoes yesterday, so you are welcome to check out that post by clicking here. To summarize, these shoes are also zero drop like the Altra’s but they have a narrower toe box which makes climbing on obstacles easier. They are also lighter than the Altra’s and the tread on the bottom is even more aggressive than the Superiors. What makes these a great pair of shoes for mud runs and obstacles races is that they are lightweight, they drain well, they provide excellent traction in the mud and they clean up well. I highly recommend them.

So there you have it, these are the three pairs of shoes that help me get my run on!

What shoes are in your arsenal?

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Inov-8 Trailroc 226 Review

Sadly the Spartan Beast that I recently ran marked the end of my mud run / obstacle race (OCR) season for this year. But just because the season has come to an end doesn’t mean I have run out of OCR related things to talk about.

You may remember this post that I wrote earlier in the year where I was contemplating getting a shoe just for OCRs. Shortly after that post, I did just that. I purchased a pair of Inov-8 Trailroc 226!


Aren’t they pretty? As much as I like a good-looking pair of shoes, the most important thing about a pair of shoes is how they perform.

I started using the Inov-8’s when I ran the Warrior Dash in July. So between the Warrior Dash and the last Spartan Race I just ran, they were with me for 4 OCRs this year. For me, that is plenty of time to decide how they measure up.

So what did I think?

I absolutely LOVE them and I plan to continue to use them going forward. Let me break down they features that I love the most about them.

- As you can see from the picture above they offer a lot of grip and traction. This is especially important for mud runs and OCRs because of all the mud that is on the course. Often times other runners would be slipping and sliding whereas I was not thanks to my shoes.

- These shoes are zero drop meaning the heel and forefoot of the shoe are the same distance from the ground. There is no elevation in the heel. This concept may not work for everyone but I had already been running in zero drop shoes and it is all that I will run in. Inov-8 does make other models that are not zero drop so if it isn’t your thing you have other options.

- They are lightweight. Mud runs and OCRs are known for well……being muddy! The last thing you want is a heavy pair of shoes weighing you down with the mud. These shoes weigh in at only 8 ounces.

- They have a slim design which I find is ideal for conquering obstacles. A wide shoe makes getting over obstacle a tad more tricky and anything you can do to make it easier for yourself is a good thing.

- They drain well. Another thing mud runs and OCRs are known for is being wet! Normally you pass through several water obstacles and you don’t want that water to stay in your shoes. With these shoes the water goes out as easily as it comes in.

- They clean up well. You may hear of many people who throw away their shoes after running a mud run or OCR. I cringe at that because it just isn’t necessary with the right shoe. All I do with my Inov-8s is hose them off after the run and throw them into the wash with some Win Detergent (my favorite sport detergent but any brand should work). After the wash they are as good as new!

My Inov-8s after the Spartan Beast.

My Inov-8s after the Spartan Beast.

And after I washed them up!

And after I washed them up!

I have raved about these shoes so much that even the bf jumped on the bandwagon and bought himself a pair before the Spartan Beast. He started referring to himself as SpiderMan because the shoes made him feel “sticky” on the course and the obstacles.

I should mention that I have not been compensated in any way for this post. Although I am certainly not against it, if Inov-8 happens to be listening. ;) I just like to share things that work for me so that you can use my experiences to make the best decision for you.


Are you an Inov-8 wearer? 

What shoes do you wear for mud runs and OCRs?


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