22 posts

Oconauftee Visitor Center | Great Smoky Mountains

Hands-On Learning in Cherokee!

The Oconauftee Visitor Center

If you are traveling through The Great Smoky Mountains, do yourself a favor and stop by the Oconauftee Visitor Center. This cute little visitor center is full service, and “green”. (Read all about the “green” features here!)

The beautiful visitor center, and clean restrooms aren’t the only perks of stopping here on your way through the Great Smoky Mountains. This visitor center for also be a destination for an educational experience. In my opinion, meaningful learning experiences are crucial for children to thrive in school. The Oconauftee visitor center was such a highlight of our North Carolina vacation, because of the face-to-face experience with history.

Things to Do at the Visitor Center

Outside of the visitor center, you can take a short walk to an open-air museum featuring a barn and other buildings that have been taken from the mountains and preserved for guests to see. The museam is set up to give guests an idea of how people would have lived 100 years ago in the mountains.

In addition to the village, there are indoor exhibits featuring images, artifacts and other information life in the Great Smoky Mountains. My girls enjoyed seeing how butter was churned. There is also a 20-minute informational video and a paved walking trail to enjoy.

The visitor center is open every day (except Christmas) at 8:00 a.m., and the closing time varies between 4:30 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. depending on the time of year. You can find hours and contact information on this website.

In addition to the educational component this particular visitor provides, there are stunning views of the mountains and if you are driving through early in the morning you might catch a glimpse at some Elk grazing in the field.

We loved all the stunning mountain views and couldn’t resist a family photo or two. Before you leave, make sure you pop into the visitor center and get a stamp for your national parks passport.

The Street Address

1194 Newfound Gap Rd, Cherokee, NC 28719

Sharing is Caring

If you found this post helpful for planning your trip, I hope you’d do me the honor of sharing.

More Fun Things Nearby


*This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for you support of StorybookErin.com

Where to find affordable custom Jewelry!

I’ve been a loyal Etsy shopper for many years, in fact, it is one of the first places I go when looking for a custom piece. I love the idea of Etsy, I like to think of it as going to a craft show in my PJ’s. I get to support families and small businesses without leaving the comfort of my own home. 

About a month ago I ordered my first custom piece from the Etsy Shop #CajunKeepsakes and OH.M.GOODNESS! Kelli is amazing! Not only are her pieces beautifully done, but she is so assessable on Instagram that you can work with her so effortlessly to get anything you want hand stamped onto the piece of your choice. 

Cajun Keepsakes opened in April of 2016 and has made over 1200 sales on Etsy! She is a hard-working wife and mom. She opened her shop to create beautiful pieces specifically for moms to keep a little piece of their babies close to their heart, and in turn make some money to provide for her son. 

As a mom of the three most incredible girls in the world, I so appreciate the inspiration and motivation of her shop. 

I am so excited to be working with Kelli for the next three months to share all the unique and affordable pieces she has to offer. Her pieces are all so affordable, with pieces ranging from as little as $3.00 – $15.00! In addition to her amazingly affordable prices, she has given the readers of StorybookErin.com a discount code to use! 

The code expires 4/26/18 and is good for 10% off the purchase of 5.00 or more. 


A post shared by Erin ✨ (@storybookerin) on

This particular piece is part of her Valentines Day Collection and is currently sold out, but she does have some other great costume key chains and necklaces! Be sure to order by Feb. 1st!

My outfit for the 2018 Walt Disney World Marathon

Happy Walt Disney World Wednesday!

We are just a few days away from the 2018 Walt Disney World Marathon, those who are running the 5K, or Dopey Challenge are already en-route to the Happiest Place on Earth, but some of us won’t be heading towards Orlando until later in the week.

I’m not going to lie, my Instagram feed is full of amazing pictures of people soaking in the fun at the parks before the craziness of RunDisney weekend sets in, and I’m slightly jealous. So, to combat my fear of missing out I’m going to share my costume for the Marathon!

Originally, I was going to be someone very Shiney… 😉

I even bought a shell to spray paint for my Moana Crab (Tamatoa) costume. However, as the race approached I didn’t feel like I’d do the costume justice and genuinely felt like the shell would annoy me. So, I ditched that idea and started over. 
Training with three kids, ages 3 and under proved to be much harder than I thought it’d be. Throw in an exclusively breastfed infant who refused a bottle for most of her life, and you’ve got my reality.

Training for this race was harder than I anticipated, 
but I got it done! 
Around the time I was trying to find a new costume inspiration, my daughters had been requesting to watch Peter Pan on repeat, and I’m glad they did. 
For the 2018 Walt Disney World Marathon, 
my costume is inspired by the Movie Peter Pan! 

If I have time, I plan to add a red feather to my visor, and white pom poms to my shoes.  We will see if I can make it out to a craft store for the supplies.
Costume Details! 
  • Shirt: Raw Threads, get yours here.
    • sign up for their newsletter, they always have amazing sales! 
  • Shorts: Under Armour Compression Shorts
    • These shorts are my favorite! They even work well during pregnancy. 

  • Skirt: Sparkle Athletic
    • sign up for their newsletter, they also have amazing sales! 
  • Timer: Gymboss
    • I plan to do 30/30 Run Walk Intervals for the Marathon, I felt it gives me a nice and comfortable pace. One that I can maintain for all 26.2 miles!  
  • Watch: Garmin Forerunner 220
    • Love this watch, it’s super simple to use and has very limited bells and whistles. It’s an older model watch, but it’s perfect for what I need. 
  • Costume Inspiration, Peter Pan! 
Who is your favorite Character in Neverland? 
Pin for later… 

9 Secrets to a Happy Marriage

Today my husband and I celebrate 9 years of marriage. Nine years of being married to the best friend I’ve ever had, nine years of struggles, triumphs, and lessons learned.

When we said “I Do” on that Warm December afternoon, after being together for 8 or so years, we thought we were pretty ready to face the adventure of Marriage and to be honest, we had some amazing adventures, but we also had some struggles and disappointments. So for my post today, I wanted to share 9 things that have helped our marriage thrive. – These are in no particular order, may they be an encouragement to you.

Laugh Often
There are so many struggles in the beginning of a marriage, for example, I didn’t know until I was married that there was a “correct way” to make a sandwich, and I had been doing is WRONG for my whole life!  In the moment, it was upsetting that this man I married would dare to be unhappy with something so silly as a sandwich, but 9 years later we still giggle about the silly diagram he drew me to help me pack his lunch.

A day without laughter is a day wasted

Charlie Chaplin

Love your Human

I think sometimes it is easy to get wrapped up in the romance of marriage, and being in love. We watch cheesy romantic comedies, that portray perfect love, and grand gestures of love, and begin to picture in our minds how romantic life will be. Truth is, we are human and humans are not perfect. Sometimes your spouse will let you down, sometimes that will sweep you off your feet. Love your spouse during times when you maybe feel disappointed, like when he doesn’t give you a card or any type of acknowledgment on Valentines Day, and when he books a surprise day of pampering at the spa.

Love your spouse and all their imperfections, you yourself aren’t perfect either you know. 😉

*points finger at herself* 

Protect Each other

This one is a big one, it is crucial that you guard one another’s hearts and emotions. My husband is very good at keeping his frustrations with my faults between the two of us, he protects my feelings and encourages me to grow.


Listen to your spouse as they tell you about their day.
Listen to your spouse tell you about (fill in the blank)

Put down your phone
When we got married, Smart Phones were not in the hands of every middle schooler and above. In fact, I’m pretty sure I had a Sprint Flip phone with no texting.  Now that everyone has instant access to all forms of social media, and our friends it is easy to get distracted and miss out on the NOW. My husband and I recently took a trip to Disney for my birthday and as I went back to my phone to look at the pictures I realized I hardly took any.  Then I thought about all the conversations, and memories we made just connecting with one another, and I felt so content.

Give it a try, disconnect from your phone and just be together once in a while!

Thanks, Photopass!

Eat together 
No matter what, my husband and I always eat together.  – We find this to be a special time of the day, and one to connect with our children as well. To further the case for eating together, I was just reading a Canadian Study that looks at the long-term effects of families eating together starting in Early Childhood. In our family, we have always put the girls at the table with us when we eat, even before they ate solid food. – Read the study here. 

Travel Together
Have you ever watched couples on the Amazing Race? Isn’t it crazy how much they seem to bicker and argue?  Truth is, you can learn SO much about a person by traveling with them. For example, I am a planner, I LOVE to plan everything out, research menus, check the weather, make an agenda. My husband,… not so much.  Travel together, make memories!

We travel not to escape life, 
but for life not to escape us

Cherish your Marriage
Cherish: to care for deeply, to treasure
Let’s be honest, a healthy and thriving marriage is a lot of work. However, if it is something you truly treasure and love it doesn’t feel hard at all. 

Chase the SAME goal
It is so important to be chasing after the same goals and supporting one another. A couple years ago I decided to pursue my Master’s Degree while working full time, figuring out life as a WIFE, and supporting my husband, who was always pursuing his Master’s degree.
It was a mess. – I was doing fine in school, but I was so stressed out.
After many heart-to-heart conversations about our hopes and dreams and goals for the future, I realized that my Master’s in Reading Education would be fun to study, but it wouldn’t get us closer to our dreams.

Here we are, years later living one of the goals we discussed during that time, and it is AWESOME!

So, Happy Anniversary Chris! Here’s to many more memories and lessons learned together!

Sharing is caring, if you found this encouraging would you pass it along? 

Plan with Me: Erin Condren vs. …

From as long as I can remember I have looked forward to getting a NEW Planner in June, and filling it up with plans, class schedules, due dates, reminders, check lists and all sorts of nerdy things. I kind of felt alone in my love of planning until I ran across some “Plan with Me” videos on Youtube and found that there are whole online communities dedicated to PLANNING!

These are MY kind of people…

It didn’t take me long to find the Erin Condren Life Planner and fall literally in love with the versatility of this planner.  After a solid year of using my Life Planner, I have a big decision to make.

Do I order the new one? 
Do I keep using this one for the remaining months of 2018?
Do I ditch EC all together and try something new?

What’s a girl to do?

Things I LOVE about EC Life Planners

  • Customer Service
    • The Customer Service is amazing, if you have a question or an issue you can contact them on ANY social Media platform or by calling and they will respond. 
  • The General Line of Products
    • EC has so many adorable products, all customizable and I’m obsessed! 

  • The Layout of the Planner
    • I love how you can decide on Hourly, Vertical or Horizontal to fit your needs. 
  • The Personalization
    • I LOVE seeing my initials on my planner, it’s just so adorable! 
  • Coupons and Discounts
    • EC has a great referral program, where the person who uses your link gets 10.00 and YOU get 10.00 off too.
Things I don’t LOVE about EC Life Planners
  • The Price. 
    • At over 50.00 per planner, it’s so hard for my to justify the purchase every year. There are great referral programs, but it’s hard to justify for me right now. 
If I don’t order an EC Life Planner, which will I purchase? 

One of my favorite planners was this Pocket Planner from Orange Circle Studios.

Things I like about this Planner
  • Small size, perfect for the diaper bag, purse or backpack
  • Economical – At less than 15.00 you can have an adorable planner without breaking a budget
  • Bright Colors and Quotes – Similar to the Erin Condren, it is filled with bright colors and quotes. 
  • The Layout – This planner has a full month view to jot down big plans or appointments, and also has weekly spreads
  • Extra’s – In the back you will find notes pages and pre-made lists such as “books to read” “movies to see” “vacations to take” 
Another Planner I love and have used in the past is the Lily Pulitzer Planner
This planner also has lots of fun prints, quotes and even includes Stickers it’s a great choice for the student or mom who loves to have a paper planner.  
The Final Planner I’ve been looking into and thinking about purchasing for 2018 is The Happy Planner
I’ve seen this planner all over Youtube and Instagram lately and seems to be very close to by beloved Erin Condren Life Planner. It seems to have plenty of space for me to write my daily to do lists, blog ideas, meal plans and other mom life items. 
What about you? Do you still use a paper planner to keep it all together? 
What planner would you purchase? 

*This post contains affiliate links*

Zoo Miami, Florida: Mission Everglades

Raise your hand if you LOVE the Zoo? 
Our family LOVES the Zoo and has been members of the Zoo Miami off and on since the year 2009, and now we are sharing our love for the Zoo with our three children.

At the Grand Opening! 

In late 2016, Zoo Miami opened their newest exhibit Florida: Mission Everglades and it is stunning! This exhibit brings families as close as you can safely get to the animals and creates some of the most exciting experiences. Where else can you slide through an Otters tank, crawl under a crocodile and feel like you are inside a bear cave all in one exhibit? 

Inside the Everglades Exhibit, there are a few must-do activities:
  • Slide down the otter slide!
The Otters are so playful and fun, we’ve spent a lot of time going down the slide and playing with the otters. Sometimes they will even follow you back and forth along the glass so be sure to spend some time interacting with the Otters. 
  • Crawl through the Crocodile Tank
  • This is is SO much fun, we’ve gotten up close with the crocodile a few times with this activity! 

  • Go see the Bears 
Go visit the Bears and crawl inside their habitat! Parents, don’t be afraid to crawl inside the little cave with your children, the roof slants up and adults can stand all the way up in the back corner and be with their children as the hunt for bears. 
  • Walk Across an Aligator Tank on a Rope
  • Ride an Airboat! 
    • For $5.00 per person, guests can ride an airboat through the exhibit. 
  • Play on the playground! 
There are so many things to do in the Everglades Exhibit, you will want to budget a lot of time into exploring this Exhibit.  
_ _ _

In February 20017, Zoo Miami hosted a Grand Opening for the Florida: Mission Everglades exhibit and our family had the best time! At the event, we had a chance to meet the newest member of the Zoo Squad, Ellie the Crocodile.  We vlogged the experience, so be sure to check our Youtube Channel to see the event. 

Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot – Race Recap, Family of 5!

Last Thursday our family did as many did, we woke up extra early, ran a local 5k, watched the parade, stuffed our faces with delicious food and chatted about the Gilmore Girls over a slice of pie.

It was a beautiful day, one I will always remember.

My husband and I ran our 5th Turkey Trot together, and our first as a Family of FIVE! Weren’t we a sight to see. I with my #teamsparkle tutu and matching visor pushing a regular (non-running) stroller with our 2-month-old daughter tucked in, sleeping peacefully. Him in his running gear pushing a bulky double jogger, filled with two girls who would simply rather be anywhere but IN the stroller.

We start the race with a light jog to keep with the flow of runners, and just as we got a stride, it rains!

In a state of panic, I run to the side and throw my body across the stroller and shout to my husband to pass me the nursing cover so I could cover our precious baby and protect her from the cold rain.

Of course, the rain stopped as soon as we got back to running.

Did I mention the two toddlers begging to walk? Well, the stroller protest was just starting to get wild as we turned into a major road.

Back in the park, we pull to the side once again to let the girls walk with us.

 “You’ve got a long way to go” I hear someone shout to their friends who were walking nearby.

My sweet baby girl (19 months old) did a run/walk for about 3/4 of a mile. I was so proud of her, she was so proud of her.

As she ran, anyone who was actually behind us cruised right on by, leaving us and a few other families behind.

I offered to cut a corner in the race, horrified my husband said “no way!” So, on we went.

We convinced her to take a ride in the stroller for the rest of the course. Weren’t we something… Jogging through the parking lot section of the course, dodging cars filled with families ready to leave and enjoy some Turkey.

We thanked the volunteers and enjoyed ourselves as we entered the final section of the course.

Then let the girls out once again to run across the finish line.

It took us 1 hour to complete the 5k and you know what, I wish it was longer!

Why? Because for the hour, our family of 5 was completely engaged in the same activity and my husband and I were showing our girls that being healthy and active can be fun!

It’s easy to get wrapped up in PR’s and goals to improve our running, I’m totally guilty of it. Let’s take it easy on ourselves during the next festive race, and celebrate the finish line NOT the finish time.

Until next time…

#miamifamous Monday – Week 1

Ladies and Gentlemen, we are roughly 9 weeks away from my first baby number 3 postpartum half marathon!!!

<excuse me while I have a tiny panic attack>

Last year we had SO much fun at the #miamifamous Marathon and Half Marathon, that we registered during the registration blitz! Little did we know, God had some BIG plans for our family and we welcomed Baby # 3 in late September.

I am quite excited to participate in the Miami Half Marathon again this year, last year I had an absolute blast, and it is my current PR for the Half Marathon! A year ago I was hoping that this would be my annual PR race, a race that I’d work to get better and better at each year. However, since we have a newborn and two toddlers at home, I think crossing the finish line in one piece is enough for me.

Each Monday, up until the Monday for the race, I will be chatting about training and fitness! I hope you’ll join me on this journey.

Fitness Recap

Goals for this week! 
  • Be active all 7 days 
  • Drink 60 oz of water a day 
  • Limit treats to only on Thanksgiving Day and the day after! 
What are your goals for the week? Link up with my good friend Mindy with The Weekly Chase to share! <3 

Professional Newborn Photos, Yes or No?

Yes. So much yes!

We’ve had the opportunity to work with Vinny from LXA with all three of our girls and the results are always priceless. 
Here are three reasons I believe newborn professional photos are a good idea.

1. Throwback Thursday. 
Because who doesn’t want to throw it back to when you were just a few days old? Your child will thank you for these awesome pictures some day- trust me!!
Not only that, but YOU will thank you for the photos. The first few weeks of motherhood are a blur, between 24 feedings and sleeping in stretches of 45 min to an hour you somehow lose track of just how small your precious baby is. 
2. Road Trip!  
Chances are the only place you are going these days is the pediatrician and maybe the grocery store. 
It’s a fun memory to get all dressed up, put together some meaningful trinkets and outfits to bring to your baby’s first photo shoot. 
A good photographer will make the whole experience fun, and it will be fun. 
3.  Instagram will eventually be a memory, Professional photos are forever! 
Anyone remember MySpace? Barely…right? Just as the season of MySpace came and ended social media will fade as well. Those cute photos you snapped on your phone and edited with an app will be lost or too small of quality to print out and display. Professional photos are high quality, edited to make your baby shine and can be printed clearly to display for years to come!

Question of the day: Did you, or do you plan on taking newborn photos?

Simple Spaghetti Bake

In the fall is 2013, I was anticipating the arrival of my first born daughter. I had NO idea what to expect, what to anticipate, how to prepare, nothing. Not.A.Clue. I had spent hours upon hours on pinterest trying to figure out how to prepare for life as a mom. One of the tips was to prepare meals for the freezer.

I think I got as far as a potential shopping list, and then got completely overwhelmed and didn’t make a single dish. In fact, I didn’t even have groceries in my house when I left for the hospital. Thankfully, my in laws lived down the street and were always stopping by with food. 
When baby number 2 arrived in the Spring of 2015 we were in the middle of a move to a new city, my husband was starting a new job, we were selling our condo, and life was a little chaotic. Needless to say, I did NOT have any meals prepared in advance.

So, here we are… Baby 3 will be here somewhere between now and mid October. I have two toddlers, running around, I’m potty training, and still overwhelmed by the thought of cooking a bunch of meals at once, or even shopping for supplies to make the food.

So, what’s a girl preparing for life with three kids under the age of three to do? Follow the advice of Tim Gunn, and Make it Work!

I decided that a whole day of filling my freezer with meals just wasn’t going to work, but what I could do was cook in bulk while I was cooking dinner for my family. So far I’ve put three meals into my freezer in preparation for Baby Jimenez # 3 to arrive.

My girls LOVE Spaghetti, it’s probably a good thing, because it’s ridiculously easy to make and all the ingredients are pretty much always on sale. I’m sure there are real chef’s who have mastered the perfect Spaghetti bake, but this is my version. It’s simple, and my family enjoys eating it.

Question of the day: How do you make your spaghetti?

FAST FOOD: Breakfast Ideas

As a Mom of two young toddlers and a newborn on the way, I’m often asked “how do you, how will you…”

To be honest, one moment at a time. It’s not easy, but it’s our life and it’s beautiful! 
So, for the busy human I thought I’d share one of my favorite breakfast ideas! 
This is something you can make for babies, toddlers, tweens, teens and adults! It’s simple and delicious! 

1. Cook Oats to taste 
2. Slice Apples
3. Add a spoonful of peanut butter 
4. Enjoy! 
With a baby you can easily skip the peanut butter and just mix in some apple sauce. 
I love the way peanut butter mixes in with oats, it gives it a cookie dough like consistency and makes you feel like you are eating a dessert! 
Question of the day: what’s your favorite breakfast? 

How do you love your spouse?

I was nominated multiple times to complete the #loveyourspouse challenge on Facebook.
Sorry, I never got around to finding 7 photos or writing sappy posts about the good ol’ days. I was busy loving my spouse and our children. 
For 16 years he’s kept my heart safe and secure, he’s loved me unconditionally and he’s worth dragging your 8 month pregnant self, 2 year old and 1 year old out of bed in the morning to drive him to work, and then loading two toddlers into a car in the pouring rain by yourself after potty training all day. 

#worthit #love #thisistherealhappilyeverafter #married #realtalk #hasitreallybeen16years 

Top 3 Olympic Moments: Rio 2016

Welcome Friends to my top 3 moments during the Olympic Games!

Raise your hand if you stayed up way too late watching the Olympic games at some point in the last 2 weeks?

*raises hand*

I must admit, we didn’t watch too much of the games this year, but I when we did it was important to me that our children (2.5 and 15 months) be involved in learning about the sport that was on.

So, without further ado, here are my top three favorite moments for the 2016 Summer Olympics.

Number 3: During the opening ceremony. 
During the opening ceremony my two year old sat on the couch mesmerized by the flags, the dancing, and the colors. I loved having the opportunity to talk to her about the many countries represented, and have her genuinely be interested!

Number 2: While watching Cycling. 
“That’s my daddy!”

Yes, that really happened and I never want to forget the pride in my daughters voice as she thought my husband was actually IN the Olympics.

My husband has been cycling to work, and as a result he spends some time working on his bike to keep it in tip top shape, and my two year old loves to help him.

Number 1: The USA Chant.
During the Olympics we taught our two year old to recognize the American flag, and how we can cheer for our team from home. It’s so special to hear her chant “USA, USA, USA” whenever she see’s the American flag now.

I am thankful for our country and those who have given their lives in service to protect it.


What about you? What are your top moments from the Olympic games in Rio?

#miamifamous 2016 – Packet Pick up and Expo

If you saw my Fitness Friday post, you saw that my husband and I registered for the #miamifamous half and full marathons over a year ago during the registration blitz (happening now).

We were SUPER excited when we registered but with a job change, a move, a new baby and life itself the race weekend kind of snuck up on us.

We loaded the car on Friday night, and then left early Saturday morning for Miami. After dropping the girls off with my in-laws and having some lunch we headed to the hotel to check in.

We stayed at one of the race recommended hotels in Brickell, and it was a great choice as it was walking distance to the public transportation.

After checking in, we walked up the street to catch the Miami Metromover and head over to Bayside to catch a shuttle to the expo. The expo was held in a large warehouse in Wynnwood, it is my understanding that it’s often used for art shows.

The expo was loud and vibrant, honestly, I would expect nothing less from a Miami race. When we walked in there were large letters spelling out “Miami Marathon” and on the letters were the names of all the participants.

My husband and I were both on the “M” for Marathon. I was pretty excited about that because my husband was running the Marathon. Obviously I made him take a picture.

Picking up our packet was quick and easy, if you’ve ever done a Disney race, it was exactly the same set up. One thing I also noticed (and loved) was lots of information booths throughout the expo. When I registered my husband and I we didn’t have good times so we were both in the last corral. However, he was able to give a better time and move up one corral at the expo.

We looked around, did some shopping and took some more pictures before heading back to our hotel for dinner.

We ended up eating at Power Pizza for dinner and loving it. Actually, we loved it so much we ended up back there after the race for lunch! Power Pizza is a Miami native restaurant and is called Power Pizza because they use Whey protein inside the dough.  Read the story of Power Pizza here.

I couldn’t sleep, but I did enjoy watching some TV for a few hours before falling asleep.

Be sure to check back tomorrow to find out about the race!

Question of the day: Have any tips for falling asleep before a race? 

Our 7th Anniversary!

Today we celebrate 7 years of Marriage.

I thought i’d share 7 of our crazy adventures from the last year with you!

1. Goofy Challenge 2015 – I could NEVER have run 39.3 miles 6 months pregnant without the support of my husband. He stuck right beside me and completed 1:00/1:00 run-walk intervals for every single mile.

2. Celebrating Little Lady’s 1st Birthday!

3. Resigning from my full time employment to stay home – thanks for (hardly) ever commenting on my terrible cooking babe!

4. The move to Southwest, Florida. – It’s not ideal to accept a new job, sell your condo and move while your wife is 9 months pregnant, but the Lord was with us and we are surviving.

5. The Birth of our Love Bug – She’s truly a gift.

6. New Orleans Adventure

7. New York Adventure

I can’t wait to see what adventures await us in our next year of marriage! 

Who is StorybookErin?

Today on the blog, I’m answer that question. Who is this Storybook Erin girl and what’s she all about?

I started blogging in 2011 as a hobby, I blogged about movies and just general daily adventures. At the time health wasn’t a priority in my life. It’s scary (and sad) to admit, but it wasn’t. I was in graduate school, working full time and dreaming of starting a family. Through all of that, I went from overweight to obese.

From the time I got married in 2008 until the end of 2011 I had gained a good 50-60 pounds and was completely uncomfortable in my own skin. I asked my husband if he would start walking with me to help me lose some weight and he agreed.

In January of 2012 we started walking a few miles a couple days a week, and limiting our junk food intake. It was around this time my blog started to shift focus and become more of a weight loss journey.

By April of 2013 I had fallen in love with running, ran two half marathons, countless 5k’s, lost about 60 pounds and was finally pregnant with baby number one.

Baby # 1 Pregnancy

My blog took a little shift again, and now was all about my pregnancy and running. After baby number one (Little Lady) was born, I continued to blog about running, being a mom and training for the Goofy Challenge at Walt Disney World.  In September of 2014 we found out that I was expecting again, so the blog went back to pregnancy posts, mom life and training for the Goofy Challenge.

Baby # 2 Pregnancy

Now here we are.

I’m a stay at home mom to two beautiful girls and on the blog you will find a combination of mom life, training, weight loss and all our adventures as a family of four living in Florida.

If you’re interested in following our story, please check out my social media channels linked below!

Question of the day: What’s your favorite fall activity?


Please leave the link to your blog in the comment section so I can stop by and say hello!  

My Pixar Rankings!

Father’s Day Weekend 2015, my husband and I went on a double date with some friends and saw Inside Out.  It was so wonderful to get away for a few hours with some friends, but obviously it got the conversation going. You know… what  is the BEST Pixar movie ever?!?!

My husband read several lists, and rankings, and tweets, etc, etc, etc… I will be honest, I didn’t read any – I just let him tell me all about them. After a few weeks of conversing about our favorite pixar movies, my husband decided that we couldn’t properly rate the Pixar Movies because we hadn’t seen A Bugs Life since it came out in the 90’s.

So naturally – we ordered it off Amazon.

Sunday afternoon we watched it, and then my husband went to work on his rating scale.

His scale had four categories:
1. The Story
2. The Characters
3. The Feels
4. The Originality

So here we go, my Pixar Ranking!

I was surprised, that Toy Story 3, Up & Inside out were all tied for my top Pixar movie because I love them for different reasons. But, there you have it!

If you are interested in taking the survey my husband designed I’ve linked it below!
Create your own user feedback survey

2014 – So many transitions

2014 is a year of transition in our Storybook Life. 
Our hearts expanded in mid January when we welcomed a beautiful princess into our family. 
I transitioned from pregnancy to motherhood, and Prince Charming was an instant super dad. 
On Tuesday our Princess will be 3 months old, so the next transition for us will be moving from bassinet in our room to the crib (a.k.a. Big girl bed) in her room. 
Here are 4 things I’ve been doing to help transition baby girl to her room. 
1. Tummy time!
All tummy time is done in her room. I’ve moved all her toys into her room, (re-claimed my living room) and we just have a fun time exercising our muscles and playing with toys. 
2. Diaper changes. 
I’ve moved all of the diaper changes to her room. 
3. Feedings. 
I’ve started feeding her more in her room. Associating comfort with her new space. 
4. A.m. Nap 
I’ve been successful a few times with getting her to take a long nap (30-45 min). I stay in her room and fold clothes, or rest for a few minutes while she sleeps. I think it gives me piece of mind to be in the same space, and also I love watching her wake up from her morning nap – seriously, check out these smiles! 
Anyway, we are still transitioning and the process isn’t fast, but we are moving in the right direction. 
Question: when did you transition your child into the nursery? Any tips? 
P.s. Afternoon naps (if she naps) look more like this, and I really don’t mind one bit! 

2014 Goals!

The calendar has flipped from December to January.
Our Holiday decorations have begun to be packed away, and we are all trying to get into a post holiday routine. Yep. It’s time for the New Year Resolutions to flood our newfeeds. Promises of “this is my year” and “I will lose weight” All well and good, but as one who has fallen in the trap I encourage you to make attainable goals.

My weight loss journey began with a simple goal of making a conscious effort to make the healthy choice. From January 2012 – May 2013 that simple goal helped me shed between 55-60 pounds, fall in love with running and complete 2 half marathons. So before you get discouraged over the scale refusing to budge – take a moment to change your perspective.

By the way, my own husband texted me his 2014 goals yesterday. Yes. They are weight loss / body composition related, and I encouraged him to set some smaller goal to accomplish his big picture
So, please don’t misread this – if weight loss is a dream of yours then CHASE IT!

So, with a changed perspective I bring you my 2014 goals!

I am literally DAYS away from giving birth to my daughter, and I absolutely cannot wait!! As you can imagine, 2014 is going to be full of lots of changes for our family. Not only will we welcome our daughter into our home in a few days, my husband recently graduated from graduate school and is on the job hunt.

If having a baby, and career hunting isn’t life changing enough… Since we had to defer the Goofy Challenge (Thanks Baby Jimenez), we will also be Marathon Training!

So, what are my goals for 2014?

As much as i’d love to do the 5 by the 5th with Mommy Run Fast, or the 14 races in 2014 challenge with Jill and Jen – I just can’t commit this year. I did complete it last year, and LOVED it! So, if you’re looking for a good challenge to keep you motivated make sure you check out their challenges!

I may participate in some of the 5 by the 5th runs, and perhaps a few of the virtual 5Ks in the 14 in 2014 challenge, but like I said… I have a new perspective.

In 2014, I’m going to take it 1 day at a time!

Our 5th Wedding Anniversary

Today’s post is brought to you by the Number 5!

On this day 5 years ago, I had the privilege of becoming the wife of @cjmnz8. It’s hard to believe that he has been in my life since December 1999. When we met in the dining hall of the summer camp during a staff reunion, I never imaged that he’d be my husband someday. 

As I reflect on the many years of our friendship, relationship and marriage I can only think of one thing… 

The LORD has done great things for us… (Psalm 126:3)

As we anticipate the arrival of Baby Jimenez, I’m thankful for the 5 years that we’ve had with just the two of us. It’s been quite an exciting journey and we are very much looking forward to the next chapter in our story! 

Happy 5th Anniversary Christopher, I love you!

Being diagnosed with gestational diabetes

Last Monday, I had the delight of seeing my baby girl on the big screen (ultrasound). My princess is already head down, so I didn’t get to see her face or much of her profile – BUT the rest of her body sure is cute. 🙂  After my ultrasound I was to meet with my OB and learn the results of my GTT from Friday (Glucose Tolerance Test). I was so nervous.

I’d read all week about Gestational Diabetes, what it means and was pretty confident that if Gestational Diabetes was a part of my journey i’d be okay. However, it clearly wasn’t something I wanted to experience.

I stepped on the scale, and had (surprise) lost another pound. Now, officially bringing my pregnancy weight gain to 4 pounds.

Blood Pressure – perfect range

“I’m doing great with this check up!” I thought to myself.

Then, the doctor comes in.

“How are you feeling” … “Any decrease in fetal movement” … (You know all the normal third trimester questions). Then, …

“How do you think you did with the GTT”.

I was silent for a moment then, I responded with “I hope I passed, but i’m prepared if I didn’t”.

My OB is very kind, she paused – looked at me in the eye and said “It’s going to be okay… You did fail the GTT. HOWEVER, you barely failed it” She went on to explain the test, my results and the risks of me developing type 2 diabetes in the future.

So yes… I failed it.

What does that mean?

1) I failed the test by 2 points. My actual diagnoses is “Gestational Diabetes Mellitus”. I’m still trying to wrap my head around it. But, my understanding is that the difference between GD and GDM is that GDM is more commonly able to be controlled with simple dietary and lifestyle changes.

2)  I will now be induced at 39 weeks, to prevent Baby Jimenez from growing too large. – This is something I’m still looking into, because I really don’t want to be induced – and I feel like there has to be information out there on WHY I’m now being told that I have to be induced.

3) New diet, Sugar Testing, Urine Testing, and monthly ultrasounds.

I met with the Diabetic Counselor on Friday morning to talk about number 3. Of course, going into the appointment I was a disaster. Although I was anxious and disappointed … mostly … I was just sad. I was sad that I wasn’t able to outrun GD, I was sad that Baby Jimenez would now be a “statistic”. I’ve read the reports, that babies with mom’s who have GD during pregnancy are more likely to develop diabetes and other health problems. I was sad, that THIS was now a part of my journey.

My appointment began by the usual.
Weight and Blood Pressure.

Weight – Lost 2 more pounds (total weight gain is now 2 pounds)
Blood Pressure – Still at perfect health.

The Diabetic Counselor was lovely. Her first words to me were, “you can do this!” I know she probably says that you everyone – BUT- it’s nice to hear. She then asked me about a thousand questions about my health, my family history, and Chris’ health. After that exhausting task I was handed a folder and probably ten different pamphlets of information.

I was doing well until she said “You know, after baby you might want to consider getting on a weight loss regiment”.


I smiled, and said “may I tell you something? I understand that I am still considered overweight, and that I need to lose weight. However, prior to my pregnancy I lost over 50 pounds through running and a modified diet. I am confident that post baby I will be able to continue on my journey to a healthy weight”.

She paused. Smiled back and said “I apologize, Congratulations!”.

To be honest – once I got that off my chest, we were both more open with one another about this new lifestyle.

The Lifestyle.

From now until December 6th, I will have to test my sugars four times a day and my urine once a day. I log all the information and then email it to the counselor twice a week. On December 6th, (my birthday) we have another appointment to see the baby (growth ultrasound) and check in with the counselor. If i’ve been able to keep everything under control with diet and exercise I will get to decrease the amount of finger pricks.

How’s it going?
So far, everything has been good! My sugars have been normal with the diet, and I’ve even almost adjusted to testing my blood.  I will never cease to be amazed at the level of love my husband must have for me. He’s held my hand, and dried my tears as i’ve learned to adjust to this new lifestyle. He’s always supportive, and has even changed his eating to mimic mine. He’s reading labels, giving meal suggestions and just loving me through it.

How’s the baby?

The baby is fabulous. She’s healthy, active, not too big, not too small and we love her sooo