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, 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 is, 81 cents out of every dollar donated is pretty impressive.
St. Jude 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 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 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 St. Jude’s important mission and work fits in perfectly. I will be sharing more about my trip, St. Jude 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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It’s been way too long since I updated the blog –I know, I know. So much ‘life’ going on –that any downtime I have is not spent on the computer. I haven’t even taken a look at Pokemon Go if you can believe it. My kids have of course!
The latest on the refocus on my health and wellness – I’m down about 12.5 pounds and want to lose about 10 more but I am struggling. It’s a constant battle in my head to eat more carbs vs protein. I want, love, am obsessed with carbs. But I definitely notice that I am hungry much sooner than if I had eaten protein. It all comes down to planning and being prepared -which I have not been great at the last few weeks. Lots going on work wise and the kids are out on summer break and have camps to carpool to. Nothing major but it all adds up to being stressed out. I have also been working to de-clutter my house. My 14 year old daughter has been helping me go through the piles and piles of clothes, shoes and random junk. Her help has been awesome but I am finding it’s an exhausting process. It definitely has been weighing me down and I don’t have issues with actually getting rid of stuff. My issue is with setting aside the time and focus to do it. I wouldn’t say that the stuff has any real deep meaning to me –there just is so much of it, collected throughout the years that it’s an overwhelming feeling to make any progress. Does that make any sense?
But as I am feeling better overall — I am doing it. I even scheduled a pickup for the crap this week, so it will be completely out of my life! Freedom….
Training is going well – My work with Wayne, my trainer has been great. I can see my body changing. I am seeing real definition in my arms and back – something I have NEVER had before. 30 minutes/2x a week with his expertise and my focus and ability to work and focus, the changes are happening. I’ve been trying to get to Solidcore 2x a week and Boxing 2/3x a week. I also have been wanting to try Muay Thai Boxing as a nice progression from just heavy bag boxing work. I sent a note to a friend who trains at a place in Herndon and am going to check it out next week I think. The key to staying active and fit is to continually challenge yourself and keep learning new things. Which is why I am attached to so many fitness programs. I get bored way too easily and need the constant challenges. I will share an update about that experience afterwards, of course!
My daughter has been in a Volleyball camp the past two weeks and when I go to pick her up, I see this “Healthy” Vending machine. They share some of the profits to combat childhood obesity. Sounds Great, Right? Well, it would be if they actually sold healthy foods. I would say that most of what they are selling CONTRIBUTES to childhood obesity. I’m not saying that my kids don’t eat stuff like that, but I am not making claims that the money goes to fight obesity when the foods I am offering contribute to it. This is the problem… Goldfish, Potato Chips, Gatorade – Sugar, Processed Foods, Chemicals. This is not HEALTHY VENDING! When I mentioned it to HB, she said well the food choices are healthier than others … REALLY? This is what my daughter thinks or is that what she tells herself? Scoty said well they wont get any money to contribute if they only stocked healthy food. SMH! WTF?
I understand the challenges with keeping fresh food in machines like this — but then don’t disguise it as healthy and that by buying stuff you help combat obesity? You aren’t — you are contributing to the problem in your own community.
One evening last week, I went to dinner with Lani, a dear friend of mine. I didn’t want to go out –It was a weekday. I didn’t sleep well the night before. I got up at 5A that morning to workout at 6A. There were a lot of excuses in my head. But, I have not seen my sweet friend in a while, we both have a lot going on, and a good friendship requires being present, so I kept our date. And sure enough, we had a lovely dinner, caught up on life since we last spoke, and was able to spend some time outside walking.
As we were rounding the corner that led to her apartment, I looked around, feeling confused. Um, where’s my car? My car was gone. Gone, gone. Not the where did I park gone-but GONE. Turns out that even though there were no obvious signs stating parking with a decal only, my selection of parking spots was included in that rule. Not even 20 mins after we left her apartment, they had me towed! I’ve never been towed before, and there was no number listed to call. We eventually found out that you call the local police and they can confirm the status of your car, give you the location of your car and the number to call. After waiting on hold too many minutes, I found out where my car was and how much $$ it was going to cost me. Man, my friend is a very expensive date! I paid the exorbitant fee and got in my car and drove home. It was a very long day to say the least.
As we were driving to retrieve my car, my friend Lani said that she thinks this happened for a reason. Whether it be to keep me from harm’s way or to lead me to something–whatever it may be. It got me thinking about unexpected things that happen in our lives. Are they really supposed to happen -the path we are supposed to take to prevent something bad from happening? I don’t know the answer but it’s an interesting way to look at certain events that happen in our lives for sure.
As for my training, I’m down about 12.5 pounds so far. It’s slow and steady and hard work. You really can’t lose focus – it is so easy to fall back into hold habits. But – with that said, I feel so much better and the weight loss is noticeable.
Lots going on — which is why I am slacking on updating often. My day job has been in the midst of a lot of change – my awesome boss has decided to leave, our CEO resigned and we are moving offices -which will add a sucky commute to my work week- all in the span of a few weeks! Talk about getting comfortable with being uncomfortable, not to mention the kids are now out of school for the summer and my puppy, Trooper, has been away for two weeks getting some serious obedience training. We miss him terribly and have been all excited for him to come home and yesterday the trainer texts asking if they can keep him an extra week at no charge, so they can work with him on tracking. So – I would say he’s doing well with his training and we can’t say no –but man, we miss him.
Oh, and HB is done with middle school. It’s hard to believe my little baby is now heading to high school. I have mixed feelings about it all. I just really cant get my head around the fact that she is growing up so fast. She is now officially taller than me. I keep having flash backs of little moments when she was a baby and it really does seem like yesterday. Then I am reminded that it was a very long time ago when she tells me I don’t understand anything and how could I embarrass her so much by <whatever it is that particular day>!
As for my fitness life – I’m down another pound. Seems like that’s my MO. Slow and steady. That’s 11 pounds down and about 3% body fat lost. I’m really happy with the progress. I feel so much better and you can see a lot more definition in my body. It’s the protein I tell ya! Eat more protein! I’ve been enjoying my 2x a week sessions with my trainer, Wayne. I’m doing some strength training I have not ever done before and he seems to enjoy trying to figure out how to make me sore. Every session he has been asking me how are you feeling and I have said, a bit sore but nothing major. Well, this week – my calves were SORE. When I went in for yesterday’s session – he seemed to revel in it a bit more than he should and proceeded to have me do a very intensive upper body circuit that left me shaking. It’s been interesting to work 1:1 with a trainer. It takes a few weeks to get acquainted. I guess you can say it’s like dating. At first, it’s all nice and once you are more comfortable, the real sets in. Well – we are at the real point. In a good way of course – He is pushing me and I am seeing results. Which is the point – and it has reignited my motivation. So I would say it’s been money well spent.
Then of course there is [Solidcore] and Boxing — a well-rounded fitness cycle. Some people ask me how I find the time to do it all and still take care of stuff in my life. Well, it’s a good question. Some of it is getting up super early to get my work outs in. Some of it has to do with asking for help. My hubby knows it’s important to me, so he does his part to help the gears run. And finally, my kids know that it’s just what Mom does and I hope they take my lead and continue to be active throughout their lives. It’s about 5-6 hours total out of each week if you think about it. There are MANY hours in a week – 5 or 6 is nothing – and we all deserve ME time. It’s my therapy, my time to hang with my friends, listen to some good music, challenge myself physically and mentally, and set the example I want to set for my kiddos. How can I NOT find time – ya know?
Last week was a good week – I’m down another 2 pounds, making it 8 pounds total so far. Five weeks/8 pounds. I’m eating a lot more protein and have not had any major cravings for sugar. And it doesn’t hurt that people are noticing my loss — even one of my boxing coaches asked me earlier last week if I was losing weight. I feel so much better too — more energy and as I mentioned before, a renewed sense of inspiration.
I’ve been back to Solidcore quite a few times the past week or so — and each time I am noticing improvements. It’s still not easy, mind you — still very, very challenging but not as brutal as the first time. I think what I like so much about it is how challenging it is — it’s all very slow movements and it’s all about the core. It’s also a very mental routine — pushing yourself when your muscles are twitching.
Personal training is going really well as well. Last week we worked on the TRX for one session and did a bunch of back and shoulder work for the other. There have been a few times I walked into training and really did not want to do it – I was dreading the workout Wayne was going to put me through – but it’s supposed to be a mental challenge as well. So walking lunges up and down the weight room holding kettle bells is supposed to make me strong –mentally and physically and it does –trust me, it does!
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Today is Memorial Day – I took some time this morning to think about all the men and women who sacrificed their lives for our freedom. I am so thankful to live in this amazing country and realize how fortunate and awesome my life is – and it’s because of the brave men and women who protect us.