Tips/Suggestions

Planning for a Family Visit with Toddlers in the DC Area

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camp kesemWe 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.

TrooperAnd 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 AquariumNational 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 at the SmithsonianButterflies 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 Great Country FarmRide 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 Fly Dance CompanySo 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 Great Country Farm

Scenic National Park, with hiking and climbing on rocks.

Make Every Day Count

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578209_10151226618501105_1289534944_nAnother rest day is here! Hurray. I am sore from all the work this week which was made harder by all the crap food I ate. Birthday weeks are hard!!!

Here are some interesting things I have come across this week around the web:

The Bob Harper talks about how he has embraced the workout that works! (my words of course)

I’m gluten free and strongly believe that everyone should –so this title irks me.  We all need to get rid of Gluten. Period.

How do you help yourself be more positive and happy? Interesting thoughts from this article.

Tony Blauer: The Cycle of Behavior

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Stuck in the Fear Loop

A few weeks ago a co-worker called me to get some advice about a work issue she has been dealing with for a while.  She has been putting up with a certain situation for a long time, enabling it to continue by not speaking up and requesting action. For anyone that knows me — It could be said that I lean a bit too much in the other direction and speak my mind fairly often and freely. It’s something that personally I need to work on — creating the right filters at the right time and being more diplomatic in some of my delivery methods. But this is not about that point!

She asked me how I handle certain situations that resemble what she is going thru and how I would handle the situation at hand.  What was clear from talking to her was that she was scared. Scared to get her boss upset, scared to talk to the head of our department, scared of what would happen to her if she did take the action — she was in what Tony Blauer calls the Fear Loop. She wasn’t only in it, she has been stuck in it for a very long time. Just going around and around the loop. So when talking to her, I automatically went into scenario mode and started asking her some questions –

Why are you doing this:

Are your intentions solid and sound? Are you trying to cause trouble or are you really earnest and believe, based on your experience that speaking up and highlighting the train wreck that may be coming is the right thing to do?

If No:

  • Don’t proceed.

If Yes:

  • What is the worst thing that can happen?  What would that look like? Would that really happen? How would you handle that?
  • What is the best thing that can come from this? What would that look like? Is that likely to happen? How would you handle that?
  • Could any other result happen that you do no expect?  What complications and/or additional actions come from your action?

Alternatives: Could there be alternative ways of handling the situation? What are the different options and scenarios around those?

After discussing all of the info and options– we both realized that the worst thing that could happen is probably not that bad, but even more — probably isn’t even going to happen. And that stepping back from going all the way to the Top Dog boss probably wasn’t the best first step and we came up with a scenario that takes into account her boss’s role and giving them the respect they deserve, while still pushing the issue and creating a situation where her boss has no choice but to either take action or she will go back to her original solution and go to his boss to address the issue.

Either way a decision was made by looking at all the possible scenarios and she can address the problem and take action. Will the outcome match what she was going for?  Its impossible to say because you have to take into account the other people and the unknown. However, those are points out of her control and she did the foundational work and made the best decision based on evaluating all the data and scenarios she had on hand at the time. It’s all you can expect and ask for when making the decision. 

Take the situation above and follow along to Tony Blauer’s model – The Cycle of Behavior and you can see she worked through the fear loop and got herself out of it and took action – in theory.  In real life dangerous situations, you have no choice but to take action. Day to day, you actually have to act on it or you end up stuck in fear — going over the different options, scenarios over and over again — resenting whats going on more and more day after day.

So many of us stay in the fear loop because we are scared. Ironic right? Scared of leaving the fear loop.   My co-worker has been trying to operate while constantly being in this loop. Can you imagine how unhealthy and unproductive and inefficient that is?- operating from a place of fear when you are making decisions and managing people.

The model above is a great resource to use when trying to figure out which way to go — follow it step by step and you will find your way out of the ole fear loop!

In order to change, you must change – or you can’t expect to see a different result than what you have been getting.  

Tony Blauer’s Tactical Combative Camp: Five Important Themes For Women

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Tony Blauer’s Tactical Combative Camp: Five Important Themes For Women

I recently attended the annual two day Tony Blauer “Tactical Combative Camp” at CrossFit Rubicon in Tysons Corner, VA. At first glance, any normal. suburban woman would walk into that gym and see the crowd gathered for the camp, and walk right out.

Picture it: A dark, window-less rectangular shaped gym. Walls painted with slogans of strength and toughness. 130 men gathered – many from military/law enforcement backgrounds, filling the room. I can see how it could be intimidating and too testosterone rich of an environment for your average, everyday girl. In fact, there were maybe 20 women in attendance total, with only a handful of them outside of the MMA or Military world.

Tony Blauer Camp 2012

After two days of learning and practicing drills, it became very clear to me that the themes discussed over the weekend have practical applications that extend way beyond any sort of combat or personal defense scenario. They are not masculine themes that only apply to a small percentage of women. They are important themes for everyone about living your best life…

“Failure Expected Action Required”

1. You Have Permission to Do Something!
How many times in our lives do we miss out on an opportunity because we don’t give ourselves permission to take action? Or to delve even further, we don’t believe we can go after that job opportunity, or pursue a romantic interest or that we are capable of fighting off an attack because as woman, we are programmed to be full of self-doubt and lack confidence in what we are capable of doing. You know what I am talking about –it’s that un-filtered inner voice that reminds us of our short comings and second guesses our skills, talents and decisions.

What if you said Screw the Rules? You make the decision to accept the fear that comes with doing something new and unchartered and go for it. You give yourself permission to go after that job, ask that guy out, or prepare to kick the shit out of any ‘bad guy’ that tries to cause you harm? What’s the worst that can happen? Generally speaking, the worst thing that can happen isn’t usually the worst thing that can happen ever in your life. That’s not to say that some pretty bad things do happen even when you do fight back. But if you are aware of what you are capable of doing and give yourself the permission to fight back, you can certainly lessen the chances of that coming to fruition.

Tony Blauer Drills

“You’re not going to wake up tomorrow as Arnold Schwarzenegger, but you don’t need to be.”

2. You Are Who You Are

We all have that list of things we wish we could change about ourselves. I wish I was taller, my stomach was flatter, and my boobs were bigger…my list is really long. And yes, I can change some of the things with surgery, diet and exercise. But the point is– you have to accept the hand you were dealt. I will never be 5’11, model thin. It’s not physically possible. I can whine about it all I want, but the reality is I will not wake up tomorrow looking like Claudia Schiffer. Not going to happen – and the sooner I accept that reality and figure out how to work with it, the better off I will be.

If I ever get attacked, chances are the bad guy will be taller than my 5’3 frame. At face value, it’s easy to assume that I will be overpowered and taken down during said attack. So what should I do – accept it and just pray that I won’t ever be attacked?

At my age I won’t be growing any taller, so I need to figure out how to use what I can to fight off a guy of any size. Is there a guarantee of success? No, but if I don’t prepare for it, it’s like asking for a 100% guarantee of failure.

Outside of an attack scenario, there are so many ways to apply this theme to everyday living and the choices we make. You have to make the most out of what you are given and figure out how to use it to your advantage. And, don’t let your hang-ups define who you are.

Tony Blauer Camp

“The pursuit of technique and/or perfection can get in the way of action”

3. You Don’t Have To Be Perfect.
Have you ever gotten so wrapped up in making everything perfect you miss out on the very thing you wanted to enjoy? Was it a dinner party, a vacation, or perhaps a workout?
During the camp, we practiced a lot of drills. I found myself getting flustered and putting myself down when I wasn’t getting some of the attack strategies. One of the coaches pulled me aside and said, “Remember, it doesn’t have to be perfect – you just need to hit the target and you did that. You got it done and that’s what counts. “

 
I needed to hear that. The truth is if I am attacked and need to fight back, the only thing that will matter is that I DO fight back and get out of there. It won’t matter if it looks like Elaine’s dancing from Seinfeld if it works!

 
There is a time when being perfect counts, but there are many more times when getting it done is all that matters.

Headlock Drill with Tony Blauer

“You never know how much you can do, until you try to do more than you can.”

4. You Need To Be Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable
The concept of being comfortable with being uncomfortable was discussed throughout the weekend. It reminded me of a recent blog post one of my coaches/friends wrote about this very topic:

“Human beings normally choose the path most traveled; the one that’s easiest. Our decisions play a huge role in whether we resist or embrace life when it is uncomfortable. Do we view them as a chance to tackle and conquer, trusting that we will become better people in the process, or do we see them as something to avoid?”

Can you see how always seeking out your comfort zone can prevent you from being prepared to take on whatever comes your way? Tony and his staff stressed that putting ourselves in situations that throw you off balance is key. The ability to take action and get tactical when you are not comfortable will put you in a vantage point no matter the situation. It’s a skill the majority of people out there do not possess.

Tony Blauer Drills

“DO more, KNOW more, THINK more, HAVE more and WANT more than your opponent.”

5. You Feel Like A Bad-Ass
I’m not a fighter. I have never seen a MMA fight in person or watched any sort of UFC match. And before this workshop, I would never have believed that I would enjoy practicing defense drills. I loved it. Practicing head lock escapes, using SPEAR techniques, throwing elbows and administering knee strikes gave me a sense of strength and empowerment that I have not felt before. I may not have looked like one, but I certainly felt like a bad-ass! Now I feel like starting a pseudo fight club – where we practice fighting drills, not actually fight!

trojan horse

“Live life like You are a Trojan horse — with a warrior inside.”


6. Bonus Theme
Remember how I mentioned that there were 130 men at the camp? I’m not going to lie and say being able to hang with and in some cases, wrestle some strong, fit handsome men wasn’t fun, including a few elite world-class athletes. There is definitely something to be said about learning from a group of men who define the word masculine. What exactly there is to be said – I will leave to your imagination.
I promise you that if you really focus on mastering these themes, you can live your life like as if you are a Trojan Horse, with an empowered, strong warrior inside prepared to take on any adversary.
I wish more women would seek out and attend workshops like these. There was so much more discussed than what I have shared here. And all of it can be applied to so many aspects of life. Tony’s teachings are definitely not for men only. Start being comfortable with being uncomfortable by signing up for one of his Personal Defense Readiness courses as soon as you can!

Me and Tony Blauer

Get more information about Tony’s Personal Defense Readiness program and find a program in your area by visiting his website: PDRTeam.com or visiting his PDR Facebook group.

*Disclaimer: I received free registration for Tony Blauer’s Combative camp so that I could share my thoughts and perspective on his program. My thoughts & opinions are unbiased & honest as always. 

Introducing a 6 or 8 pack AB MAKER! FINALLY

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I am wondering if I am feeling like crap because of allergies. I never really have them bad, but Northern VA is famous for causing them. I can’t put my finger on things, but I just feel yucky and just not right!

I am definitely glad it’s a rest day — I am SORE too!

I wanted to share this story  to show how you can indeed eat healthy and stay away from gluten when eating out. some coworkers & I went out for lunch with our Google partners. We went to a mom & pop restaurant named: El Manantial. Their lunch menu was not necessarily gluten free, so I talked to the waiter and he was more than happy to put together a spinach salad w/ avacado, grilled chix, aspargus and tomato with no issue. It was delish and I was super happy. Yes – there were a few remarks from the coworkers, but it gives me an opportunity to talk about the benefits of Paleo eating and share how easy it is to on the go! Win – Win. So when I hear how hard it is to eat Paleo, I call BS. Just ask!

Oh, you think I should order this AB MAKER? LOL – I am sure it will totally work. I mean that is exactly how to have great abs — right?

Blogher 11: San Diego – Day 1

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Day 1 Friday — I got up early to hit up the expo area and I am glad I did. Later on in the day, that place was packed. There were the typical big name booths – Chase, Lowes, Playskool, P&G to name a few. An interesting common theme was that they would ask that you take a picture and share it via Twitter hashtag in order to be entered into a giveaway. Almost every booth had a hashtag to share with me.I received a hand massage at Chase, fake eyelashes applied at Skinny Cow, a cup of coffee at Nestle, my foot pressure analyzed at Dr Scholls in addition to talking to some very interesting people manning the booths.  Some of those booths were down right amazing and most of the companies were very generous with their give-aways.After walking around half the expo, it was time to head over to the Marriot to attend a Gatorade Moms special event. I wanted to attend this not only because I am an active Mom, who is very interested in inspiring my kids to be fit, but also it was a great opportunity to meet Moms to talk about online learning.

Gatorade Moms had a special suite set up with healthy snacks – gatorade, water, fruit and we were introduced to the head of Gatorade – Sarah Robb O’Hagan who thanked us for being there and then introduced to Gatorade nutritionist consultant, Leslie Bonci and football player LD Tomlinson’s mother. Leslie Bonci spoke to us about proper nutrition and hydration for our kid athletes and LD’d Mom spoke to us about how to help support your kids as they grow into athletes. We were then joined by Brandi Chastain, famous soccer player who talked to us about leading by example for our kids. Her message really resonated with me as this is something I strongly believe in. Kids learn from their parents. Get out there and live a healthy and fit life, your kids will think thats what they should do as well!

When the presentation was over we took a group picture and then I stopped and spoke to Brandi a bit sharing my thoughts on what she said. Brandi and Sarah both spent some time talking to me and listening as I shared my story which I appreciated. It was a very genuine moment with some inspiring women. I was also able to meet quite a few Moms who attended and one even said that she wished she had known about Online Learning last year when she was struggling with her decision to enroll her son in Kindergarten!

After the Gatorade event was over, I headed back into the expo to finish the rounds of the booths and talk and meet some fellow bloggers. It was funny how conversations started — “oh, i love your bag”, or what is the “giveaway in this booth”. Everyone was very open and willing to talk for a bit.

I then attended a session entitled Reaching Brands, which was a panel discussion about how brands reach out to bloggers and vice versa. The panel discussed ways to meet influential people at companies, how to handle pitches and opportunities, and different types of opportunities out there. Very interesting stuff!

By the time it was over, I was tired. I had been sick the days leading up to this event and spent the entire previous day in the hotel bed – sleeping whatever bug I had off. So, I headed back to my hotel for a little rest before gearing up for the famous Blogher Sparklecorn party.

Before I went to the Sparklecorn party, I stopped off to see an old friend at the Hard Rock Hotel and we headed to a small party thrown by some bloggers in a small suite at the Omni. It was fun and I met some more great ladies. Then, it was time for Sparklecorn.

Sparklecorn featured DJ Skribble who DJ’d the beats, some wine/beer, finger foods and lots of people. It was fun although a bit overwhelming. I found it hard to meet people there, so my pal and I headed home early to get rested for the next day.

Bad Economy means Great Deals

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Thought this story may be interesting to some of my fellow parents:

The bad economy’s upside? Great coupons.

The good news about the bad economic news? Prolonged economic misery has created a heyday for bargains. Coupons are better. Maybe the best they’ll ever be.

Scouring for deals is nothing new. It’s been the American family norm for decades, and it only intensified recently as the economy nose-dived. What’s different now is that years of financial troubled times have provided the coupon industry the opportunity to grow and improve.

Handstand Push Ups are Like being a kid again..

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The end of the school year is stressful. Not only do you have to do remember all the school related stuff, for me – I have the added pressure of finding and scheduling camps and payments for camps. It also is a super busy time at work — we are an education company so the time before Back to School is our busy season so smack dab in the summer.  Breathe…

Warmup
1 lap run
–2x–
10 Pass Thrus
10 OHS
10 Good Mornings
10 Push ups
10 sit ups

Skill
HSPU

WOD
12m AMRAP
2 HSPU
2 5sec LSits on Rings (parralettes can be used to modify)
total=17 RX’d

I love HSPUs. I think the whole idea of me doing any sort of gymnastics gets me excited and I feel like a kid again — so it could be the hardest workout but if it has something that takes me back to being a kid — it’s all good.  I have said this before but where else can you get up this early and be a kid on a playground again? A bunch of busy grown ups going back to the basics of fitness. No fancy equipment, lots of hard work, sweat, some tears and puke, lots of laughs and friendship. It seriously is like being on the school playground — think about how fun that was. Don’t you want to get back to that?  I am telling you, that’s what it feels like. One of the athletes today, Maria, is getting back into shape and you should have seen her go after the handstands today. She was determined, just like when she was younger to get up into one. That’s what it’s all about — feeling like you can do it, you an go after it, and with some work and sweat, you can have it.  No one is judging you — we are all after the same thing, improving ourselves so who would judge you?  There are some super fit people and some that are just getting started –all working together. For those that keep telling me how scared they are to try it — face your fear and try something that gets you back to the basics. You will be amazed at how exhilarating that feels.

Free Comic Book Day is here again!

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Tomorrow is Free Comic Book Day.

What Is Free Comic Book Day?

Free Comic Book Day is a single day – the first Saturday in May each year – when participating comic book shops across North America and around the world give away comic books absolutely FREE* to anyone who comes into their stores. *Check with your local shop for their participation and rules.

 

Want to go organic?

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Saw this mentioned by my friend Koren at Live it Coaching

Five Easy Ways to Go Organic
Switching to organic is tough for many families who don’t want to pay higher prices or give up their favorite foods. But by choosing organic versions of just a few foods that you eat often, you can increase the percentage of organic food in your diet without big changes to your shopping cart or your spending.

The key is to be strategic in your organic purchases. Opting for organic produce, for instance, doesn’t necessarily have a big impact, depending on what you eat. According to the Environmental Working Group, commercially-farmed fruits and vegetables vary in their levels of pesticide residue. Some vegetables, like broccoli, asparagus and onions, as well as foods with peels, such as avocados, bananas and oranges, have relatively low levels compared to other fruits and vegetables.

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