I Choose Strength

Today is, without a doubt, my least favorite day of the year, and for the last nine years I have begun to  dread it from the moment I see it on my calendar.

On January 22, 2005 an amazing person was taken from this world by an evil one–a man who never even knew how incredible Sarah was. Nine years ago I was 17 years old and worried about how to enjoy my last semester of high school, getting into college, and going to gymnastics practice four days a week. I wasn’t prepared for everything the world taught me that day, and I wasn’t prepared to keep myself together when 30 other younger girls were looking at me and asking the question I had no answer to: “Why?”

Why did such an amazing person get taken away from her family, friends, and gymnasts that looked up to her? Why was my first television appearance for an interview about my gymnastics coach who was held hostage and murdered by a stranger?

All this time later and I still have no answer, but I do know one thing: I learned to be strong. I learned to be aware of my surroundings (which is never a bad thing as a young woman). I discovered that a trip to Canada for a funeral with some of your teammates is an amazing way to grieve. I know that I share a bond with the rest of my teammates who were impacted by Sarah as much as I was, and together we are strong.

Though Sarah’s loss with always be devastatingly felt by all of her loved ones, the good that can be achieved by all of those whose lives she touched far surpasses the evil of this man. Today I choose to grieve, but also to be strong. I choose to remember that I can make a positive difference in the world, just as Sarah did. I will never forget the evil that occurred on this day, but I won’t let it break me and I won’t let it stop me from doing good. In fact, it will only motivate me more. I choose strength. And I know that Sarah would, too.

Today I begin coaching gymnastics again after taking a hiatus for way too long. I can only hope to inspire and motivate this group of gymnasts the way Sarah did us.

Rest in Peace, Sarah.



Brady-Arroyo Wedding Weekend: The Reception

After a year and a half of planning, a busy few days leading up to the wedding, and a beautiful but hectic day, I was ready to let loose and have some fun at the reception.

I had finished my Maid of Honor speech about a week before the wedding, and was feeling decently confident about it: not too sappy, not too funny, and I had it mostly memorized. I told a few stories about my sister growing up, as well as some about Bryan.



Not long after they got engaged, I went to visit Erin and Bryan in Virginia. The three of us went out to dinner, and when we returned to their apartment, Bryan had gotten out two shot glasses and was opening a bottle of tequila (my liquor of choice) before I could even take off my shoes. Best brother ever! So I told this story during my speech, and Bryan and I toasted with shots of tequila. Well, they were supposed to be shots, but I’m pretty sure they gave us like triple shots, and I’m pretty sure “Oh, s***” went through my mind as I stood in front of 130 people taking a shot I was confident would spill all over my face. Ten minutes and no food later, I was definitely feeling it. Oops!

The food was spectacular! After I ate I made my way around to visit friends and family. It was so great having all of them in the same place!

Soon it was time for cake-cutting and all of the standard dances.






Then it was time to PARTY! I had so much fun dancing the night away with my sister, friends and family. I actually went to college with the DJ, Rockin’ Ron, and was definitely not disappointed by the tunes he chose for us to jam to. This was actually Ron’s last wedding, as he is going on to pursue different things, and I’m so glad he could be there for my sister’s wedding–he is awesome!

With the newlyweds

With the newlyweds

With my "little sister" and "baby" cousin

With my “little sister” and “baby” cousin


My Papa is a stud!

My Papa is a stud!

Stella and Penelope

Stella and Penelope

My loving parents

My loving parents

Did I mention that there was a photo booth?! We had so much fun with all of the props, and the photo strips definitely made for an entertaining guest book! Those pictures should be on the photo booth website soon and I can’t wait to share them!

Overall it was such a fun night, and I truly enjoyed celebrating such a happy occasion! Erin and Bryan are currently on their honeymoon in Punta Cana (jealous!), and it’s killing me that I can’t talk to my sister! I hope they are having tons of fun, but I am looking forward to them coming home tomorrow so my sister and I can resume our daily G-chat conversations and FaceTime dates!


Brady-Arroyo Wedding Weekend: THE WEDDING

Saturday morning began bright and early. As soon as her alarm went off, I turned to Erin and said “Happy Wedding Day!” Scout immediately came in the room, jumped on the bed, and wagged her entire butt when I told her that Erin and Bryan were FINALLY getting married!

After dropping Erin off at Portage Country Club, the location of the wedding, I did what all good Maids of Honor do: went on a Starbucks run!

Did I mention they gave us 2 of our drinks for free?!

Did I mention they gave us 2 of our drinks for free?!










After arriving back at the country club, we relaxed and ate some breakfast, drank some mimosas, and listened to love songs while getting hair and makeup done. I absolutely LOVED my hair and makeup (hair by Jolene, makeup by Erica of Beauty Therapy)!












One by one all of the bridesmaids arrived, along with the flower girls, and my very best friend (and hot date for the evening), Mo! Mo is learning more about photography and she came to get some shots of us getting ready! She’s the best!

Clearly this was BEFORE my makeup

Clearly this was BEFORE my makeup












After hair and makeup were done, everyone got into their dresses, and I got to help lace my big sister into her wedding dress! It was such a surreal moment for me, and she looked absolutely stunning.


Photo by Mo!













Once we were all ready, we went outside for some photos with the bride. After that it was time for my dad’s first look at the bride. It was pretty emotional watching the two of them see each other for the first time. It was just me, my mom, my sister, my dad, and the photographers (S and B Photography, who were awesome, by the way!) in the room and it was so nice to have a moment with the family on such a hectic and beautiful day. I’m pretty sure we all teared up at some point, and the photographers snapped a couple family pictures while we were in there (can’t wait to see them!).

After a little bit of waiting, it was time for the ceremony!

Leaving my sister alone with my dad before I walked down the aisle was emotional for me. I hugged my sister, teared up, and began my walk. As soon as I saw Bryan waiting at the end of the aisle I got even more choked up–I couldn’t wait to see the look on his face when he saw my sister!






















Erin walked down the aisle to the Israel Kamakawiwo’ole (and yes, I had to Google that spelling) version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” The ceremony was beautiful. Short and sweet.

Cutest ring bearer ever? I think so!

Cutest ring bearer ever? I think so!













Being given away by Daddy





















Before we knew it, Erin and Bryan were husband and wife and the newlyweds were making their way back down the aisle!

Is this not the best picture?! Good work, Mo!

Is this not the best picture?! Good work, Mo!













Then it was time for professional photos! There was some downtime between pictures, which was the perfect opportunity to snag some photos with my BFF!





















We got rained on a bit, but moved inside for indoor pics and were able to go back out shortly after. They say rain on your wedding day is good luck, and I see nothing but sunny skies for Erin and Bryan in their future together!

After pictures it was time for the PARTY! Stay tuned for my reception post!

ALSO, a huge, big, special THANK YOU shoutout to Mo! Seriously, she was like my right hand woman on wedding day and was willing and eager to help however she could. I am convinced that I have the BEST best friend!

Brady-Arroyo Wedding Weekend: Rehearsal

After a busy day of wedding preparations, we finally arrived at the rehearsal!

Since the wedding was in Ohio and the ceremony was supposed to be outside, we of course rehearsed both outdoors and indoors. There’s just no telling what Ohio weather will do!

I don’t know about Erin, but as soon as we got to the rehearsal things started to feel real to me. To the point that my dad and I had a moment and cried briefly–SO unlike me! With such a happy occasion, though, I couldn’t help but be overwhelmed by emotion.

Sister Selfie!

Sister Selfie!



















After the rehearsal was finished we headed to the party house in our family friend’s neighborhood (the same place we had Erin’s shower) for dinner made my friends of my parents. It was delicious!

The night consisted of spending time with family and friends, telling stories about Erin and Bryan from when they were younger, and taking lots of pictures!


Me and Erin

Me and Erin
















With my new brother!

With my new brother!
















Our new family

Our new family















Last Kiss before they become husband and wife!

Last Kiss before they become husband and wife!



















The night ended pretty early, which was probably a good thing since we were up bright and early the following morning for WEDDING DAY!!!

Brady-Arroyo Wedding Weekend: Wedding Prep

I’m finally starting to recover after what was an amazing weekend home in Ohio for my sister’s wedding! After ten years, Erin and Bryan finally tied the knot, and it was a weekend to remember!

Because of events at work last week, I was not able to fly home to Ohio until Thursday afternoon. I was greeted at the airport by my parents and sister, and we headed straight to my parents’ house for last-minute wedding preparations.

While my mom and sister put together the escort cards/favors (picture frames for photo booth strips) together, I worked on alphabetizing them to put out at the reception. I’ve recently started admitting my love for alphabetizing, and I’m pretty sure my family thought I was crazy for enjoying it so much. 















The night didn’t consist of just work, though. While out searching for props for the photo booth, my mom came across Wizard of Oz masks. Since this has been Erin’s favorite movie her entire life, they were obviously purchased.

…And I obviously had to play Toto for a few minutes.





















Speaking of dogs, my parents dog Scout loves having Erin and me home, and decided to sleep with us that first night. Even though we have our own rooms, when we are both home Erin and I typically both stay in her old room. This could get weird now that she and Bryan are married. This is how Scout decided to sleep the entire night. 















And did we move her? Of course not. Instead Erin and I pretty much shared her side of the bed and had “moon landings” all night (Modern Family, anyone??). I think it’s worth it for such a cute pup!

After laughing for quite a while, we finally fell asleep and were up early on Friday for nail appointments!

PS Has anyone ever had a gel manicure before? A week later and it’s still holding strong–totally worth the extra cash!

Mom and Renee

Mom and Renee



















Erin and Katie

Erin and Katie



















The day consisted of nails, brunch with the bridesmaids (and my parents), picking up THE DRESS, and the rehearsal dinner! 

More on that in my next post!

Workouts and Awards

This week I finally feel like I’m starting to get where I want to be in terms of my workout frequency and intensity, and I’m excited to start another productive week tomorrow! Here’s what the last week consisted of:

  • Monday: Pump class
  • Tuesday: 3.5 mile run
  • Wednesday: Though it wasn’t the type of workout you’d typically think of, I spent 6.5 hours at work moving freshman girls into their residence halls. Suitcases, stairs, and sweat. I considered it my workout for the day.
  • Thursday: 1-mile warm-up run, followed by Boot Camp
  • Friday: OFF
  • Saturday: OFF
  • Sunday: 6-mile run and some ab work

I was pretty happy with my run today, as I’m pretty sure it was the farthest I’ve run without stopping since sometime in 2012. Not proud of it. But I made it through with the help of my psychic iPhone that kept playing songs I needed to hear to keep me pumped! My foam roller and I had a date when I returned home. Since tomorrow is Labor Day my Pump class is canceled, so I’m looking forward to creating a leg and ab workout for myself. I’m also hoping to incorporate some more running into my workouts this week!

And now to the more exciting part of this post. Earlier in the week I received a Facebook notification that I have been nominated for the Liebster Award by Joanna of Jo(w)anna Know What? I took some time looking up the Liebster Award and between Lorraine Reguly’s blog and Sophie Says I’ve determined that it an award for up-and-coming bloggers and sort of has a chain letter feel to it. Basically, you answer a set of questions that the blogger who nominated you gives you and nominate 3-5 other bloggers who have less than 3000 followers (other rules say 200 followers, but who really knows!). So here we go with the list of questions that Joanna gave me:

1. What is your favorite hobby? (Besides blogging of course): I think I’ll go with working out or singing
2. If a real life genie appeared while you did your weekly lamp polishing, what would be your 3 wishes? Ooh, this is tough! I think I’d wish for enough money to pay off my student loans first! As for my second and third wishes, probably more serious things like health and happiness for my family and friends. I don’t care if that’s sappy. Just go with it.
3. If you could leave right now for a 2 week vacation, where would you go? Vacation?! Yes, please! I’d like to go back to Grand Cayman, so let’s say there
4. If you were a super hero, what powers would you have? I’ve never had the opportunity to choose multiple powers! Teleportation, the ability to fly, and mind-reading skills. Those would be great!
5. What is your guilty pleasure? Chocolate. I didn’t even hesitate on that one
6. What is a cool family tradition you have, or have started? My sister and I have always slept in her room on Christmas Eve. Every year, never fails. Shall be interesting this year since she will be married!
7. What is your favorite childhood memory? Family dinners, sitting around the table laughing until we can’t breathe.
8. What historical figure would you love to see in 21st century life? Freud would be an interesting person to talk to, ha!
9. What is your favorite holiday? I love Christmas!
10. If you were ever to be famous, what would you be famous for? I’d love to be a famous singer!
11. What is quote that you live by? “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”-Ralph Waldo Emerson
And now for the nominees:
  • Bliss, written by my very best friend Mo! Looking for inspiration? Find it here!
  • Katy in the Middle: A girl I went to high school with, Kate, recently started this blog and it is hilarious!

I think those are the only blogs I read regularly that meet the requirements for the Liebster, but I’m always open to new blog suggestions! And now ladies, your questions:

  1. What is your favorite animal?
  2. If you could re-live one day from your past, what would it be?
  3. If you could pick a different career, what would it be?
  4. What is your favorite sport to watch? To play?
  5. Breakfast, lunch, or dinner?
  6. What is your biggest pet peeve?
  7. What do you do to relax?
  8. Do you have any pets? Names, breeds?
  9. Where has been your favorite vacation?
  10. What is one piece of wisdom you will be sure to pass along to your children?

Have fun, Kate and Mo! And thanks again, Joanna!

Fighting Illness

Last night I got to spend time with one of my good college friends, Becky! She had flown to Florida from Ohio earlier in the week to pick up her car (she and her husband recently moved back to Ohio from Florida), and stopped for a night on her drive back up north. We went out to dinner at The Mill House, a local restaurant known for its pizza. I’ve only been to the Mill House one other time, but enjoyed their pizza and thought it would be a fun place to take Becky. The evening was spent catching up, as we hadn’t seen each other in a while. We called it a night pretty early, since we both had busy days today (me at work and her driving 11 hours to Ohio), but it was so nice to see her and spend time together! I was very excited to have someone stay in my nautical-themed guest bedroom, and Bella was very excited to have someone else to love on her.

As I was looking through my refrigerator for a snack last night, I remembered that I had this Karma Wellness Water I tried for the first time in Charleston recently.



Between my exhaustion from my busy weekend and my air travel, I recognize that my immune system may not be functioning at its full potential. I decided last night to bring the Karma Balance Immunity Booster with me to work today. With 1667% of your Daily Value of Vitamin C, I figured it might be just the thing to help me fight anything that may be heading my way. Well I guess I should have thought of the idea earlier on, because when I woke up this morning my throat was feeling sore and scratchy. I’m at work today with my Wellness Water (and my favorite Nature’s Path Love Crunch Dark Chocolate & Red Berries Granola), and am hoping to nip this illness in the bud before it goes too far!

photo (1)

My plan is to head to Boot Camp tonight after work, and hope that it will help me sweat out whatever I’m fighting, too. I have a busy weekend full of classes I’d like to take at the gym, and am hoping my body feels up to it!

Since I have off work tomorrow my plan is to sleep in and I can’t even put into words how excited I am! I’m hoping that a combination of a healthy, restful weekend and some good old Vitamin C will be enough to have me feeling 100% by work on Monday!

  • What are some of your “tried and true” illness-fighting secrets?