5 COVID-19 Back to School Hacks for Parents and Kids

March 2020 feels like forever ago, but that was the last time my four kiddos stepped foot inside a school. In just a few days, they’ll be back to their school buildings – three of them in new to them buildings. Our district allowed the option of in school or cyber and we are giving in school a try. Check out these COVID-19 back to school hacks we will be using in our house this fall.

Note – these “hacks” are my personal advice and ways that we are going to be getting ready in our home. Feel free to comment with any that you would add!

COVID-19 Back to School Hacks

This September as schools open virtually and in person, there is one main thing in common. Back to school isn't what any of us pictured it would be for 2020. I put together a few hacks we will be using in our home as we prepare for boarding the school bus every day.

Home Office Decor

These days, most of us have likely set up a home office. For the last two years, I have worked out of our old nursery and now call the space “my room”. It has transformed into a bit of a haven for me, even if it is where I work. Having home office decor that makes the space my own + provides functionality is key for enjoying the space.

Have a look at this list of my must haves and be sure to comment with your favorites!

Home Office Decor

These home office decor ideas will have you happy to be at your desk - whether you spend 10 minutes or 10 hours a day at it!

If you’ve been following me for a few years, you know that I primarily worked from an office from 2009 to 2018. All that changed pretty quickly in 2018 when the company I worked for was sold and I joined a consulting firm. My front door became the door to my home and my office. I’ve loved the leap and have really adjusted to working from home.

2020 has not been easy ! If you found yourself all the sudden needing to set up a home office space, I hope these tips bring you some ideas to bring joy into your workspace. Home office decor doesn’t have to be a budget breaker. It can make a world of difference in your motivation to get stuff done.

2020 EQT 10 Miler

It’s time to announce another Pittsburgh running event – the 2020 EQT 10 Miler! This event will be held on November 8, 2020 with plans to run through the City of Pittsburgh! This will be my fourth time running this race and I think it just might be my favorite.

IMPORTANT UPDATE! The 2020 EQT 10 Miler is 100% virtual.

EQT 10 Miler | The Details

Here is what you need to know:

  • Distance: 10 miles
  • Race Type: Virtual
  • Date: November 2020
  • Medal: YES
  • Shirt: YES – a long sleeve!
  • Swag – YES! a Pittsburgh Box celebrating all 10 miles and Pittsburgh fun!
  • Register here! (Save 10% off the LIVE or VIRTUAL options with code WILLIS10)!
  • Cost: $50 for virtual – remember, save 10% with WILLIS10!
  • Kid Option: $15 (read more here on ‘lil Burghers)
EQT 10 Miler pin

10 Fall Miles

Fall is my FAVORITE running weather + Pittsburgh’s scenery never disappoints. This will be my fourth time running the EQT 10 Miler and I’m just as excited as ever. Last year they started to implement Pittsburgh themed fun throughout the course but I missed out because of my surgery. I’m back at it this year and excited to take part!

BONUSES!

Those who run the event LIVE will get a mini Pittsburgh Box with swag + get to experience the course fun and everything race-day related. If you’re running it virutually, you get a full size Pittsburgh box (with a $100+ value)! And if COVID-19 circumstances keep us from running live together in November, P3R is offering refunds and swaps for those who registered for the in person event (minus fees, more info here).

Time to Get Training!

As of the time of this post, there are 16 weeks + 1 day to get training. I know I need to get more consistent about my training (but I’m HYPER FOCUSED on dropping some pounds) as I prep for the EQT 10 Miler. I’ll be running this the Galloway Method and live.

I am interested to hear your plans! Will you be running the EQT 10 Miler live or virtually? Are you also a Galloway runner? I’d love to connect with any and all racing this or other Pittsburgh events on my Instagram @mrsgregwillis – catch you there or in the comments below!

Check out other 2020 P3R events here – some with promotional codes to save on registration!

Virtual EQT 10 Miler
Kids EQT 10 Miler
* Code WILLIS10 does NOT save 10% on the Kids Virtual 10 *

Hi. I’m Blue.

This past weekend, while stuffing a grilled asiago chicken sandwich in my face, I embarked on a life-changing decision. Yup. here she goes again. It is yet another weight-loss journey for this (self-proclaimed) #fitmomintheremaking. And this time, I’m going back to basics with the help of a community. I’ve joined ww (formerly known as Weight Watchers). Hi. I’m Becky. I’m Blue.

It’s still true, though.

Harsh Reality

The truth is, I have issues with gluten and a to-the-core addiction to food. Over the years it has become evident that I need to change that. And it hasn’t been for the lack of trying.

In 2011, I started my first weight-loss journey and lost 130 pounds. I had a nutritionist at my side every step of that 3 year journey and was encouraged to start running. I logged my first half marathon while on that journey and have not fallen out of love with running (have you seen my list of races coming up?).

At my lowest weight since probably 8th grade, I got pregnant with twins. I gained back 70-ish pounds with them and returned to a stressful job. It took leaving that job and getting back on track with my running + shaking up my eating habits to lose about 50 of that. Truth: I was doing Keto and LOVED how the pounds shed.

Then a new door was forced open and I started a new job working remotely. I do not blame my work environment, I blame my personal lack of motivation to keep moving combined with a really tough 2019 with what comes next.

The harsh reality hit this morning when I stepped on my scale to weigh in for day one. I’ve gained 67 pounds since October 2018 and it hurts physically and mentally.

WW Blue – I’ve joined!

Encouraged by my best friend to make this change, I joined WW (formerly weight watchers) this morning while sitting in my bed, tears flowing after seeing the number on the scale. I entered all my details, including lofty answers to questions about how I eat.

The results came back that I should be “green” – meaning I got more points in my day but had to make more choices (less 0 point foods) for myself. Knowing people on blue, I decided that I’m blue, too.

As a blue, I get 31 points a day (if you join ww, your points will differ based on your starting weight, activity, and goals). That means I need to scan in or search for my foods and plan my day based on the ww blue rules.

The first few days I’m expecting will be bumpy, but I think that’s normal on this plan. I got out my kitchen food scale, measuring cups and spoons, and went to work making good choices today. It was NOT easy, especially since our cupboards and fridge are still full of Keto-friendly foods.

Why Not Keto?

I was TOTALLY stalled. I found myself going for sugar-free foods that were probably spiking my sugar anyways. I was living on pepperoni and cheese and pickles plus an occasional whipped cream. I was eating Keto Ice Cream EVERY SINGLE NIGHT. I did NOT feel good.

About a week ago, I got a little loose on my foods and had spaghetti and pizza – both of which are no-no’s unless they are gluten free. But I did NOT care. I wanted to feel sick, I wanted to remember that unhealthy relationship I had with food and I wanted to change it.

The funny thing is, although today was the first time I’ve weighed myself since my last doctor visit in July 2019, I SWEAR I lost weight eating like CRAP versus eating Keto. And that + knowing I’d have accountability from a friend was plenty to push me into my first month of WW.

Breaking up with so much in this fridge today!

All that cheese. So sad. Good thing that G. Hughes sugar-free ketchup is 0 points on ww blue, though!

Interested in Connecting?

If you are interested in connecting with me (you existing ww rock stars), you can find me on connect as mrsgregwillis. If you would like to take the plunge with me, consider joining (and get a month free from me) and let me know you’re in this thing, too. It’s been a long time coming and I’m excited to officially give this program a try!

Reminder for me, too!

If you’re just interested in connecting with me but not interested in joining ww, follow me on Instagram – I’ll keep posting lifestyle posts over on @mrsgregwillis like you’ve seen in the past (but include some more ww-friendly “food” content) and/or @mrsgregwillis_ww where I will be starting to post my food inspirations and progress. Here on the blog, things will stay the same – faith, food, fitness, family, and fun – but with a ww twist every now and then!

Thank you for following along and for supporting my journey!

What are your personal goals in 2020? Are you on a weight loss or fitness journey? Reading through the Bible? Just trying to survive? Share below so I can cheer you on, too! xoxo

2020 Fleet Feet Liberty Mile – Virtual Race

This summer, I’ve added another virtual race to my “running to do list” – the Fleet Feet Liberty Mile!

Fleet Feet Liberty Mile

This event is another event put on by P3R (the engine behind Pittsburgh’s greatest races) and it is one that presents a good challenge to runners of all abilities. Here is what you need to know:

  • Distance: 1 mile
  • Race Type: Virtual road race
  • Medal: YES
  • Shirt: YES
  • Race by: August 7, 2020
  • Register here!

Why ONE Mile?

As a distance runner (having logged 14 miles as my furthest run to date – but that’s going to increase!), one mile seems so short and easy. The thing is, I see it as a great challenge…and it is going to time nicely with my “Magic Mile” for my next BIG race (more on that to come).

One mile is a great little distance to work up your speed. In this heat, one mile is perfect for a quick run that earns you a shirt AND a medal. And one mile is really doable by anyone, even your ‘lil Burghers!

I’m personally excited about this because historically the Fleet Feet Liberty Mile happened when I was away for a conference and I’d never had a chance to run down one of my FAVORITE miles in the city (Liberty Avenue) and earn a medal. Well, in 2020, that all changes. I might even just find an evening or early morning and log my mile on the sidewalks of the original course…we’ll see!

Registration is $15 + $5 if you’d like your shirt and medal mailed to you. Are you running this event in 2020 for the first time or as a vet?

Check out other 2020 P3R events here – some with promotional codes to save on registration!

The Best View

This morning we were afforded an unplanned day date that involved coffee, shopping small, and picking up pizza for lunch. This morning, that day date also included getting caught in the rain…just like we did on a Saturday eleven years ago.

We were young and although we hadn’t been dating long, we just knew we were meant to be together. Within six months of dating + two whirlwind moves to Pennsylvania, this single mama found herself marrying her knight in shining armor.

For nearly ten years, we loved so much. We laughed a lot. We welcomed three more babies, two houses, a few cars, a few brand new careers, and a timeshare into our lives.

It was like we were on a mountaintop.

…and then it was 2019.

2019 was the hardest year of our lives for many, many reasons. We were tested in so many ways – our faith, our marriage, my health.

It was very much Psalm 38 “in the pit” life. The mountain of things we had to climb through TOGETHER was steep and rough.

2019 was the hardest climb.

…and then it was 2020.

This morning while shopping a local boutique, I found a canvas that just spoke to me with such forcce. I knew it had to come home and find a place in our bedroom.

…because on this day, July 11, 2020, we celebrate eleven years of being married. And while I never want to climb that mountain again, I’m so glad we put God in the middle and climbed it together, Greg. Because it is so true.

The best views can only be seen after the hardest climb.

Happy 11th anniversary, Greg. I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always. xoxo

inspired home: Recharge!

Home is where the heart is -isn’t it? For the next four weeks, I’m going to be highlighting some of my favorite products from Thirty-One Gifts that are perfect for your home. This series will be “inspired home” and give you ideas to organize your spaces and refresh your style! Today’s products: The Glamour Case!

Relax and Recharge

Things are starting to open back up and I’m guessing you’re ready to head out for a little bit of time to relax and recharge. No matter where your travels might take you – near or far – I hope that you get the time to do JUST THAT soon.

Thirty-One believes that everyone needs time to relax and recharge. I’d love to help you reset your perspective and get ready for adventures ahead with cozy home styles and fresh on-the-go solutions.

How about a solution set that you can pair with our Glamour Case with for your next adventure?

source: Thirty-One Gifts

Glamour Case

Sometimes my work has me on the road and I can attest that (while it took some convincing) you can take everything you need from a health and beauty perspective in this case.

Source: Thirty-One Gifts

I LOVE that it holds my makeup brushes up off everything and then covers them with a little flap. Also in the top we have a clear PVC pocket for things like toothpaste, toothbrush, and floss. In the base, you can put your travel bath products and makeup. L O V E this for my travels!

So, where would your Glamour Case go with you?

++

Like what you see here?

Request access to my VIP Facebook Group to hear all the Thirty-One news first. Love it? Consider placing an order with me (May 2020 orders will support On Our Sleeves and AFSP Western PA). If you’d like to start your OWN Thirty-One business, check out this post to learn more.

And check out my other Inspired Home posts for more ideas!

The Great Race 2020 (Virtual Run – Pittsburgh)

Over the next few months, I’ll be training for my next running event – the Richard S. Caliguiri City of Pittsburgh Great Race. While this is a new to me tradition, Pittsburghers have known and loved this event for 43 years.

This year, while this runwill be virtual, the tradition continues and all of yinz (collectively, Pittsburghers and runners across the world) can join in the fun. With several options, there is something for the whole family to enjoy One Great Weekend of running wherever you are!

the  great race

Richard S. Caliguiri City of Pittsburgh Great Race 2020: NEW TO ME!

Running is something I’ve been doing for nine years, but I don’t have too many 5K or 10K medals (and actually my only 10K was pretty memorable). I’ve been focused on endurance events and half marathons but want to start building up my speed at shorter distances to give me power for those longer runs.

The Great Race is definitely something that has been on my radar, but it seems like I’ve always had something happening the same weekend. As a P3Runner, I knew the dates early and made One Great Weekend a priority on our 2020 calendar. Doing something new as often as I can has been a goal this year and I was excited to check this event out.

In prior years, the 10K started near my Alma Mater, Chatham University. My mind tells me the course is mostly downhill, passing Schenley Park/CMU/University of Pittsburgh and the hospital where I had three of my babies – Magee – before going downhill to Downtown. That course sounded like a good trip down memory lane.

But then, like the 2020 DICK’S Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon weekend of events, the 2020 Richard S. Caliguiri City of Pittsburgh Great Race and Dollar Bank Junior Great Race announced they are going VIRTUAL as part of the city’s efforts to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus. While I don’t really like running solo, I’m at a point in the “stay home order” that I am okay with the next normal and am looking forward to running #MYGreatRace in my own way with a bonus.

Run it VIRTUALLY!

Registration for all of the VIRTUAL Great Race and Dollar Bank Junior Great Race is open. When you run these races virtually, you will get your shirt and medal in the mail. What do do next? Three easy steps!

STEP 1: Pick your event!

Options include:

Richard S. Caliguiri City of Pittsburgh Great Race

  • The Great Race 10K
  • The Great Race 5K

Dollar Bank Junior Great Race

  • One-Mile Family Fun Run
  • Tot Trot
  • Diaper Dash

STEP 2: GET REGISTERED!

GET REGISTERED: USE CODE GRBECKY15 to save 15% off the 10K or 5k. You’ll need to enter that code at checkout. If you’re not sure how to do that, check this quick video to show you how!

STEP 3: Complete Your Run

I’m going to leave this description from the team putting on the event:

You can complete your race whenever and wherever you wish, but we will officially host the Virtual 2020 Great Race and Virtual 2020 Dollar Bank Junior Great Race throughout the entire month of September! Beginning September 1, you will be able to submit your race time (although this is not required) via the Race Roster website anytime throughout September. Stay tuned to your email and our social channels!

Source: http://www.rungreatrace.com/

Richard S. Caliguiri City of Pittsburgh Great Race

Save 15% when you use code GRBECKY15 to register for the Richard S. Caliguiri City of Pittsburgh Great Race VIRTUAL 5K or 10K.

What is this about a BONUS?

Medals are something I L O V E so you probably won’t be surprised to find out that I’m SUPER excited about this bonus, the One GREAT Challenge, benefitting Amyloidosis Research. This was something that was not possible when the “in person” event was in place – the 5K and 10K run at the same time.

One GREAT Challenge details:

As an extra — and BRAND NEW  — challenge, we invite YOU to participate in both the 5K and 10K in the month of September! One GREAT Challenge participants will earn the Great Race tech shirt, the 10K medal, the 5K medal, the One GREAT Challenge medal, as well as a One GREAT Challenge t-shirt. That’s THREE medals and TWO shirts!

Plus, $5 from each One GREAT Challenge registration will be donated to support amyloidosis research. Each year, the Great Race donates $1 from every Great Race and Dollar Bank Junior Great Race registration to the Richard S. Caliguiri Amyloidosis Fund, a fund held by the Pittsburgh Foundation that is dedicated to supporting medical research, and One GREAT Challenge participants will contribute even more to this important cause.

Source: http://www.rungreatrace.com/

I will be running both races this fall and am excited about logging summer training miles to get me there. Will you join me? GET REGISTERED today! Use code GRBECKY15 to save 15% off The Great Race 10K or The Great Race 5K. See you on social with #MYGreatRace.

inspired home: Refresh!

Home is where the heart is -isn’t it? For the next four weeks, I’m going to be highlighting some of my favorite products from Thirty-One Gifts that are perfect for your home. This series will be “inspired home” and give you ideas to organize your spaces and refresh your style! Today’s products: The Fresh Market Thermal and Keep It Cool Thermal Backpack.

Let’s Get Some Fresh Air

Has it hit you that next Monday is Memorial Day? This is a day that traditionally is spent outdoors enjoying picnic or party food with family and friends. This might look a little different this year, but here is to new traditions!

Thirty-One believes a little refresh (and a little fresh air) is good for the soul. Embrace the outdoors with stylish solutions for family outings and backyard bashes.

Let’s take a look at two of those options today.

Fresh Market Thermal

Our family usually packs up our Fresh Market Thermal with a meal or two then we hit the road for Clear Creek with our friends. As a family of six, this holds plenty of food for our adventures and keeps things hot or cold – depending on what we need.

source: Thirty One Gifts

What’s so great about it? Holds two 9×13 casserole dishes or a crock pot or six gallons of milk! So good. And bonus, if this is on your list it unlocks a Customer Special (50% off any item)!

Keep It Cool Thermal Backpack

I’ll admit, I was on the fence about this backpack. It is stylish but has the thermal lining – I think that’s what made me unsure. But that lining is leak lock which means you can put ice cubes in it and not worry about it leaking. After watching the quick video below about it, I could imagine carrying it with date night picnic supplies and enjoying some much needed alone time with the hubby.

source: Thirty One Gifts

Like the Fresh Market Thermal, the Keep it Cool Thermal Backpack can keep things hot or cold.

++

Like what you see here?

Request access to my VIP Facebook Group to hear all the Thirty-One news first. Love it? Consider placing an order with me (May 2020 orders will support On Our Sleeves and AFSP Western PA). If you’d like to start your OWN Thirty-One business, check out this post to learn more.

And check out my other Inspired Home posts for more ideas!

inspired home: Restyle!

Home is where the heart is -isn’t it? For the next four weeks, I’m going to be highlighting some of my favorite products from Thirty-One Gifts that are perfect for your home. This series will be “inspired home” and give you ideas to organize your spaces and refresh your style! Today’s product: The Market Crossbody.

Restyle with the Market Crossbody

As many of us are planning our first outings after stay-at-home orders were put in place, I bet there are some of you who are very excited to break out some of your favorite bags, shoes, and outfits! Or maybe others are like me and instead of looking for those old favorite pieces, I’m excited to show off a few of the new things I’ve bought while “quarantine shopping”!

Thirty-One believes in the magic of a style refresh. That’s why you’ll see our catalogs change a few times a year, bringing in new products in addition to the ones you love plus refreshed prints and patterns to keep up with trends.

This spring/summer, Thirty-One has introduced the Market Crossbody: an everyday bag you can take anywhere!

Market Crossbody

This bag has an easy, casual design and detachable, webbed crossbody strap. With a roomy, slouchy interior, it is ideal for hitting the shops or market. Add personalization on the natural canvas to make it mean more.

Do you change your style every so often or prefer to stick with tried and true styles? Is a refresh of your style on the horizon?

++

Like what you see here?

Request access to my VIP Facebook Group to hear all the Thirty-One news first. Love it? Consider placing an order with me (May 2020 orders will support On Our Sleeves and AFSP Western PA). If you’d like to start your OWN Thirty-One business, check out this post to learn more.

And check out my other Inspired Home posts for more ideas!