Head over to Chili’s restaurants today for lunch or dinner and support St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital® by participating in their #CreateAPepper campaign!
Chili’s proclaims Sept. 21 as St. Jude Day and will celebrate by giving a minimum of $100,000 donation and an upcoming naming ceremony for support of the school program.
Here I am at 530a sipping on my coffee – My plan was to head to a boxing session at 6a but just found out that my boxing gym is closed until Monday. The owner died unexpectedly. I didn’t know her well. We met just a few times. She was the mom of three grown boys and one of the boys ran the gym, so she wasn’t in the place all that often. I’m not sure why I’m sharing it — other than she was a mom who in my mind, was the glue that held her family together and now she’s gone. My heart breaks for them. And it’s another reminder how short and fragile life. None of us has tomorrow guaranteed. Do what it is that you need to do today. Share how you feel, reconcile with those you love, demonstrate your affection – you never know what can happen and you miss your chance.
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One of the greatest things that has happened to our family this past year is adopting our dog, Trooper, the white German Shepherd (IG: TroopertheWGSD). Although he is a ton of work – it’s like having a toddler living in my house again – he has brought so much joy and fun into our family life. The big joke among Scotty and the kids is that every time I go out to run errands I bring Trooper a toy. HB likes to say “I’m obsessed with him”. She’s right but who else is that happy to see me all the time? His eyes light up every time I get him a new treat or play toy. He doesn’t complain about it being the wrong color or size. He appreciates it for what it is. And in my book that’s a win/win.
Having Trooper has improved our health as well. The kids get outside more than ever, taking him for walks, to the park, or just in our backyard to throw the chuck it ball – over and over and over and over again. That boy loves to play fetch.
Pup-peroni’s new Filet Mignon & Bacon Flavors
I was recently sent Pup-peroni’s new Filet Mignon & Bacon Flavors treats so Trooper could properly celebrate International Bacon Day–and what do you know? Trooper loves BACON too. These treats are made with Angus steak with bacon-y flavoring (that’s what the box says anyway!) And Trooper loved them.
To share ways you and your pooch bond over Bacon, use #woofyeah or leave me a comment below!
And it doesn’t need to be said but, even though I don’t need any more reasons to love him, his love of Bacon makes him that more lovable!
Please Note: Thanks to Pup-Peroni for sending me a bag of these treats for Trooper. They did ask me to include a link to their product but there was no expectation on their part to influence my review. My opinions here are my own.
Sometimes I take a few moments to remind myself why I took the steps to live a healthier life all those years ago. And I figured, we all can use the reminder – so lucky you! You get to read it too!
As most of you know 8 years ago last month – Scott and I heard the scary words: You have cancer. He was 37 years old, no family history and cancer invaded his colon and our lives. You never know what can happen in your life at any given time, so you need to do whatever it is you need to do to live your best life. Do you want to be that senior citizen that we all know that has a hunched back, needs help taking a crap, is immobile? I certainly don’t. Taking steps now to strength train so that your heart and muscles are strong is important. There are so many stories of older people, who strength train and workout, that look younger and don’t suffer from many of the ailments that others their age do. One hour of your day – to do what you can to ensure a healthier aging process.
Do you have kids? What message are you sending them when you don’t take time to practice self care? In my mind, you are telling them that you aren’t as important. When you put your fitness and health at the top of your priorities, you are teaching them that you do matter. You are showing them that being healthy and finding time for exercise can happen even if you work full time and run your house. Is it hard to find the time? Yes. Sometimes it requires outside of the box thinking – asking a friend to watch your kids, carpooling to soccer practice, asking your spouse/kid to take on extra so that you can go workout. I have heard from so many women – oh you are lucky that your husband helps you. Luck has nothing to do with it. We talk about it and I share with him what I need to make it work. He and I talk about how important that time is to me -I’m happier and feel and look better. It’s rare to find a spouse or partner that wouldn’t support both of those things and step up to the plate when asked. The key is you HAVE TO COMMUNICATE what you need. Oftentimes, men don’t get it looking at it face value. You have to actually spell things out — which can get frustrating but my mantra when I start to get mad or resentful:
Do you want to be happy or do you want to be right? You choose.
And lastly, remember when you were single and started dating your partner? You had hobbies, you had interests, you looked a certain way. Are you still all of those things (hopefully improved)? What happens many times is that we get so wrapped up in being something to someone else, that we forget who we are. We become so wrapped up in being a soccer mom or <fill in the blank>, that we no longer pay attention to that person our partner fell for. I’m not saying that being a soccer mom or whatever shouldn’t be a part of your identity, but I have seen it become a person’s ENTIRE identity. What will happen when your kids become the adults they are destined to be and you are left there, with your partner? You need to nurture and tend to your own self and the relationships you are in. Too often, we let ourselves go for the sake of our kids. Make sure you are practicing self-care. The person you were when your spouse fell for you is important and valuable and needs to be remembered always.
Hopefully my reasons resonate with you as well. Life is so short — none of us know what the future holds but we can do our part to ensure that we have the best foundation to handle whatever comes. Now get out there and move your body!
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With each new season or yearly benchmark (back to school), I tend to take stock of things in my life. You know, breathe and see where I’m at.I’m in a really great place. Things are humming along quite nicely, but there is always room for change and growth…
Career wise – one thing I want to really focus on and work towards, is finding work that has real meaning and makes a difference. My new found relationship with St. Jude has confirmed to me that making a difference in people’s lives is the type of work I want to do. I want to know I am making a difference in the world, even if it’s in a small way.
Personally – I want to record my life less and live my life more. The past few weeks I’ve been around people who seem to be connected at the hip to their devices. The past few weeks, I’ve been focused on experiencing what’s going on around me instead of focusing on recording it. The art of creating real relationships is dying. Talking to people without a device at dinner or during a meeting seems to be rare and quite frankly, I find it rude.
Don’t get me wrong, I am a social media and marketing consultant after all. A big part of my job is being online, engaging and sharing information so I’m not going on a fast or anything. I am just going to be more conscious of using my device and not just automatically go for it.
Health and Fitness – My boxing instructor, Alex, took some pics of me boxing this past weekend. I have been feeling like I haven’t seen any actual physical differences since I lost some weight and added in more focused weight training. These pics tell a different story for sure. I’m so glad he took them! I see a big difference which means the varied training I have been doing combined with being more conscious of what I am eating is working. It’s sad there is no special pill we can take to get in shape — but there isn’t so we all need to focus and put in the work.
My advice to those in the same boat – force your friend/spouse/kids to take your picture even if you don’t want them to. Seeing is believing when it comes to weight loss. Remember, we don’t always see things the way they are!
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If you are a friend and/or a follower of this blog, you know I was invited to travel to Memphis, TN last week to learn about the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Because of my own personal experience with cancer, this blog and my other social media outlets, they asked me to join 11 other bloggers from around the country to learn more about ts history, its mission and the possible ways we all can do our part to end childhood cancer (Adult and Childhood cancer!). There is so much I want to share from my three day learning adventure. This is the third year of their blogger tour and in total, they have about 70 bloggers nationwide helping spread the word through their amazing Blogger Ambassador Program.
Here are some high level, meaningful facts that resonated with me about St. Jude:
Families never pay. – If you are a patient at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. you will never receive a bill. They do bill insurance but the family will not pay co-pays, lodging costs, food etc. Even if your child has to stay for an extended period of time. I know personally how stressed out I was thinking about the financial burden Scott’s cancer treatment was going to be. We had great insurance fortunately — but think about it – I was already overwhelmed and emotional about his cancer diagnosis in general. Add to that — how am I going to pay for this? Knowing that you would do anything to save the child/husband/family member you love. And then to walk into St. Jude and be told – don’t worry. We got you. First disbelief, then relief and you can focus on the big stuff – getting your child well.
Donations support the hospital. – Last I checked, 81 cents of every dollar donated goes directly towards research and treatment. Based on the info they shared with us, it costs $2.2 million dollars a day to run the hospital and research facility. No non-profit can claim 100% of their donations go directly towards their mission because there are always costs associated with running any non-profit. Considering what a large organization St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is, 81 cents out of every dollar donated is pretty impressive.
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is making a difference. – When they opened in Feb 1962, their overall survivor rates were under 20%. Today, it’s around 80%. They also study other diseases like malaria, sickle cell disease to name just a few. Clearly, they are definitely making a huge impact that resonates globally. Their research is released to the public and freely available to any research facility, doctor, scientist and/or patient.
Danny Thomas – The story behind the building of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is inspiring. Mr Thomas made a vow and he kept it and enlisted countless friends and visionaries to help. He believed strongly “No child should die in the dawn of life” and who in their right mind would disagree.
They pay attention to details. – Here are few of the services and details I noticed:
- They have an on site school so kids can keep up with their school work.
- They have their own gardens so they can prepare food using the fresh product (farm to table) as much as possible. And when not possible, they work with the local CSA to grow the crops and offer a Farmer’s Market monthly on site.
- Their utensils, etc are as eco-friendly as possible.
- They have Child Patient Specialists to work with the patients to help them understand what’s going on in an age-appropriate way.
- Legacy Services – End of life is unfortunately something that does happen – they offer services and legacy keepsakes to help.
- Milestone Events – graduations, proms, dances, parties including No More Chemo parties!
- Wagons – when possible, the patients are wheeled around in red wagons instead of wheel chairs – keeping some of their childlike magic in tact.
- The Hospital – obviously it’s state of the art, but it doesn’t smell like a hospital. It may be because of the high end air filtration systems, but it was nice to not be inundated with that sterile, alcohol smell common to most medical facilities. And the walls are adorned with colorful, gorgeous murals and large images of their patients. It’s a warm, inviting place to be — which is awesome AND surprising since it’s not like the hospitals I have seen or visited before.
This trip meant the world to me – Seeing sick kids is hard but I was able to meet some amazing people (bloggers, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital staff, families, people from Memphis to name a few) and I left there feeling hopeful and inspired – ready to figure out how I can do my part to help. The topic of cancer has always been threaded throughout this blog — so helping spread its important mission and work fits in perfectly. I will be sharing more about my trip, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and ways we can all help, so stay tuned…
I’m still processing the St. Jude Blogger Tour. It was a heavy topic but I came back feeling hopeful, inspired & grateful. My new blogger friend Melissa Fenton talked about “turning guilt into gratitude” as we head back to our families and look at our healthy kids. Be grateful that we have healthy kids that can live their normal lives. I am taking that to heart and will do my part to end childhood cancer. I am even more forever changed..
I will share my entire experience in the next week — as it was full of information, emotions, fun and hope and what being a St Jude Ambassador Blogger means –including all the programs and ways people can get involved.
Childhood Cancer Awareness Month
Next month is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and there are a ton of ways to help, including a walk/run in many cities around the country. To search for an event in your community use this link: Find an event near you or Donate.
We dropped the kids off for their yearly sleep away camp. Camp Kesem is a week long camp that serves children who have lost a parent to cancer, have a parent undergoing cancer treatment , or whose parent is a cancer survivor. The camp is an opportunity for kids to just be kids and to hang out with other kids who have experienced the life altering effects that cancer has on an entire family.
While Scotty is now 8 years cancer free, the long term effects are still present and the changes within our family are forever there. HB didn’t really want to go but we explained that in many ways, it’s important for other kids to see different perspectives of cancer and whether they see it or not, our kids were affected forever.
While they are at camp, I am heading to Memphis, and am excited and honored to be given this opportunity. The agenda over the next three days is full from 9a – 9p. They have us meeting with families, doctors, doing projects with the kids, touring the hospital, meeting with the Communications department and finding out being one of their ambassadors and what that entails. I will be sure to share some of each day’s events while i am gone if i can. But as a I said, they have us booked all day, learning.
And last week, my brother and his two girls were here for the week. It’s been a very long time since I had toddlers in my house. It was quite an experience –and a lot of work. I forgot all the demands and attention they require. They were adorable and we had a great time. The most popular member of our household it seemed was Trooper. The girls loved him and he loved them back. It was awesome to see how gentle and affectionate he was to them. As big as he is, he can be gentle and playful. When they left, he moped around the house for a day or so missing them. He’s now back to normal – thank goodness!
Planning for a Family Visit with Toddlers
Their week long stay had me playing tour guide, so I thought I would share how I handled making plans for them knowing that because of their ages (2 and 5), we needed to have fun, be flexible, and get a taste of the beauty of Virginia (aka “grassy land” – which is what my 5 year old niece calls Virginia)….
I wanted to find events/attractions that would not take all day either — because as anyone that has had young kids — their attention spans are limited and they need naps. Here’s what I came up with and then also planned pool time, walks, and art activities at home. I was pretty pleased with myself for being so organized and planning activities that really worked out well for everyone…
|National Aquarium||Baltimore, MD||Adults: $39.95
Children (3-11): $24.95
Seniors (65+): $34.95
|National Harbor is a great place to take the kids –they can run around and the aquarium also offers the chance to touch jelly fish and other sea creatures on the 2nd floor.|
|Smithsonian Butterly Pavilion||DC/Smithsonian||Adults: $6.00
Children (2-12): $5.00
Seniors (65+): $5.50
|Butterflies are EVERYWHERE in this small enclosure. The kids loved it.|
|Great Country Farms||18780 Foggy Bottom Rd, Bluemont, VA 20135||Weekdays: $8/Child & $10/Adult kids under 2: FREE||Ride the Cow Train.
Solve the giant Mazes.
Grab some air on the Pumpkin Jumping Pillow.
Make friends with the Barnyard animals.
Hook the big one at the Fishing Pond.
Much, much more!
|FLY DANCE COMPANY||Wolf Trap – Theater in the woods||$10.00/Ticket Thursday, August 4 at 10:30 am||So you think you can dance? Check out this high-energy, gravity-defying dance crew as they mix hip-hop, pop n lock, and modern dance with colorful costumes and comic delivery. Kindergarten through 5th grade.|
|Great Falls Park||Great Falls/Mclean VA||8.00 Park Entrance Fee||
Scenic National Park, with hiking and climbing on rocks.
Summers are hard on working parents. Now that my kids are older, it’s hard to find camps to occupy their days and it’s even harder to figure out how to get them to the camps that are available. So many of them are only half day – and I am left wondering how am I supposed to work and get my kids to and from camp during the day? I am lucky at least right now in that I have quite a bit of flexibility with my current work situation and can handle what needs to be done but there are days when I feel less than adequate. Like today:
HB is trying out for volleyball and I forget to get her forms handled completely. I made an assumption that she could use a different form and it would be ok –and last night in a mad scramble we realized it was not going to work, so I had to rush to the Medi-Clinic at Target to get her a sports physical. Thank goodness it worked out but it was another reminder that this parenting deal is hard. Then Nate had a dr appointment that we had to rush to — and then I had to get HB to the actual try outs. I’m not sure how this would all workout if I was not an independent consultant and able to work odd hours of the day. It wears me out physically and mentally and I actually have it pretty darn good overall. I can’t imagine being a single parent trying to keep up with all of the parenting demands. It’s been a very trying week or so…
Fitness/Health Progress Update
I’m down another pound – so total loss is 13#s and even more body fat, although I’m not sure how much. I’ve been told by quite a few people that there is a noticeable difference in my arms and shoulders. They look leaner and strong! It’s been hard to keep focusing on eating right all the time, but I have been doing pretty good. Before I would say I was 90% true to eating clean. Now, I would say 75-80% true to it. It all comes down to planning and focus. I’ve been feeling stressed out and crunched for time – two saboteurs of progress. But -I will get there.
Beauty and Wellness
I don’t spend a ton of time on the blog talking about beauty products, but I do think looking your best is a huge part of living well. For the ladies, as we age – we should make sure we keep up with the latest skin care products, treatments and techniques. I’m lucky that HB, who is 14, is heavily interested in fashion and makeup because she helps me stay current. There are a ton of really great beauty products out there that do amazing things that weren’t available when I was in my 20’s or even 30’s. I’m not talking about contouring and thick costume-y make up either. I’m sure on some people those styles work, but for most of us – Just NO! Can you imagine walking into work with blue lips and a fully contoured face? I can’t and unless you work in a business that is all about that –you shouldn’t either. So, I was recently sent some Kat Von D Lock It products via a program called Influenster Vox. I had never used her products before — and they aren’t cheap but I have to tell you, I LOVE LOVE LOVE the concealer. It is lightweight, covers what it’s supposed to, and lasts. That along with the Lock it setting powder — I am sold. If you are looking for a high quality concealer – head over to your local Sephora and try it.
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I have some exciting news to share. Yesterday evening I invited to be a special guest for a St. Jude Blogger Tour – an exciting and educational three-day experience in Memphis, Tennessee this coming August where I will visit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, tour the facilities and witness first-hand the holistic care doctors, researchers and staff provide to their patients.
I am beyond honored and speechless to be offered an opportunity like this which includes learning more about how St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is leading the way the world understands, treats and defeats childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases. They are also generously covering my expenses for the trip! I have confirmed my availability and am waiting for additional information about this three day event.
I have been blogging regularly for over 8 years now, focusing on health, wellness and family inspired by my husband’s experience with colon cancer. I started blogging to keep people in our lives up to date on Scotty’s progress and treatment and during that time I found a passion for living healthy and fit. Live Fit and Sore was born out of that original blog and I haven’t looked back. I share the info and experiences to help others find support and motivation to make changes in their own lives, but more importantly, to keep myself focused on health and wellness. It’s a passion of mine and it has introduced me to the most amazing people and has brought me opportunities that I could not have even imagined.
I have no idea what to expect but I have always respected the St Jude’s Organization and am so beyond touched to be invited. I will share the details of my trip when they are confirmed.
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