Reviews

What to Expect at the Mother of All Baby Showers

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Mother of All Baby ShowersIt’s hard to believe that 15 years ago TODAY, my first baby was born. HB is fully into her teens and teaching more about being a parent and a better person than I could ever imagine. And not to mention, allowing me to hone my skills in patience, anger management and improving my sense of humor as I experience life through the eyes of a teen in the year 2017.  Boy, new parents are in for the most wonderful, crazy ride of their lives! Which leads me to share info about an event I was invited to attend last week for new and soon to be mothers as a local blogger. I think when I started sharing pics from the event I gave a few of my friends a scare! But, while it definitely wasn’t my personal demographic – it was a good opportunity for me to see how this particular generation finds out about products, connects with others and enters into this exciting phase of life.

Aveda Tysons Corner - MOABS When I arrived to the MOABS Luxe and checked in, I was given an awesome VIP gift that included a Baby K’tan diaper bag filled with lots of stuff including a Baby Jack & Company lovey! I was then told to go and HAVE FUN! And boy did I! There is something really special about being around couples who are at the start of this magic. Their energy is contagious and they are so happy! I loved being around them…

My first stop was the AVEDA table (of course!), where I was treated to a nice, stress relieving shoulder massage using some amazing smelling Aveda oils. The staff at the table were the nicest and since I love Aveda products already, I did snag a limited edition candle Light The Way that smells Aveda Light The Wayamazing! And for those that know about Aveda, know that they are definitely a cause based company that believes in giving back. The candle is 12 bucks and all the proceeds go to help bring clean drinking water to people in Madagascar. From their site: “This year’s limited-edition aroma features certified organic vanilla, cinnamon and ylang ylang from Madagascar, where we’ve helped fund water systems for 10,000 people.” So, I helped others and got a yummy shoulder massage within the first 15 minutes of my arrival, I would say that the event was off to a great start, so I moved on…

Next up, I was greeted with food, drinks and a CHOCOLATE FOUNTAIN! I mean – COME ON, Now! The drinks included one of my favorites – La Croix Sparkling Water. A table full of La Croix water – all flavors. I love sparking water so this was another win for me! Fully fed, chocolated up and hydrated, it was time to enter the big room. The room with the different vendors, displays and where the speakers were going to drop their knowledge.  I kept thinking about how things have advanced since I had HB and Nate Dogg. Technology has improved so many aspects of parenting gear. I felt oddly unprepared even though I have successfully raised two kids myself…


Chocolate Fountain - MOABSLa Croix Water - MOABs

 Dorie Howell Photography

First stop in the main room was to visit Dorie Howell Photography. Her table displayed all of her amazing photos. I asked her a few questions about her photography, including her camera brand of choice (Canon!). She mentioned she has been photographing babies for quite some time and does do families and other portraits as well. Her photos were gorgeous and you can tell she connects with the people she photographs. She also mentions many times she doesn’t require much post production work either – which is pretty impressive if you look at her photos.  And in a small world coincidence, I shared her pic out during the event over Instagram and a dear friend of mine left a comment that Dorie is a dear family friend of hers! You never know who you will meet and we all are 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon for sure!

randy Cakes - MOABSI walked around the event for a bit and then it was time to hear the keynote speaker Maria Bailey share her thoughts. She shared some really great ideas about blogging and becoming a Mom Influencer which is what she specializes in. I really enjoyed listening to her advice and will be sharing some of what I took away from her opening remarks soon in another blog post. As a fellow marketing, influencer and blogger – it’s always interesting to hear how others make their way and the trends that I need to adapt to. After she spoke, I went and introduced myself and we chatted a bit about my experience and some of the challenges I have found working with brands and companies – one of which is to prove to them how important it is to reach out to influencers and use social media even if it doesn’t bring in direct sales!

http://www.madebymothernurture.com/I made my way around to each of the tables – talking a bit to the vendors and sampling and inspecting their products. They had a great baker Randy Cakes who offered delicious cupcakes (I brought them home for my “baby” HB and she gave them a thumbs up) and Mother Nuture, who make refreshing flavored waters and delicious chocolate truffles containing some of the essential nutrients that moms and their babies need like folic acid, DHA, Protein, Vitamin D, Vitamin B12, and choline. The ingredients in each of their nutrient blends work in harmony with prenatal vitamins and are made with all natural ingredients, nothing artificial. Now, no one in my house is pregnant but I loved the water and my husband and kids loved the truffles!

The event went on for a few hours with different guest speakers talking about car seat safety, pre-schools, cribs, baby stuff and more. And there were really terrific raffles after each speaker (think Cribs, gift sets of Aveda products, High End Car Seats) I even ran into a former coworker of mine, Heidi, who blogs at Boys on a Budget! I haven’t seen her in almost 20 years, so that was a huge bonus! It was a great night – stepping outside of my comfort zone, meeting new folks, re-connecting with others and finding out about some amazing products geared towards new Moms!

 

Bone Conduction Headphones: Are they right for you?

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Aftershokz HeadphonesMy brother recently told me about these cool headphones that use bone conduction to transmit the sound, sending the vibrations straight into the top of your jaw and from there to your inner ear and brain. The company, Aftershokz, originally started making bone conduction headphones for the military and now they are offering them to the public. After hearing how much my brother loved them, I went to the website, checked them out and ordered the Trekz Titanium Wireless model. Here’s what the website has to say about this particular model…

“The lightweight and comfortable Trekz Titanium wireless stereo headphones are the safest alternative to traditional sport headphones and earbuds. Bone conduction technology, an open ear design and a suite of convenient features deliver premium music play and crystal clear calling without compromise. Designed with athletes in mind, Trekz Titanium are sweatproof, secure, and will allow you to hear your surroundings – no matter where life takes you.”

They arrived late last week and so far, I am loving them.  They don’t have crystal clear sound quality (you compete with outside noise after all)– and that’s ok with me. I love that I can wear them comfortably and still hear things around me. And they are comfortable. I have found that after a while with regular headphones that go in your ear, i have to move them around because they become uncomfortable. These fit nicely on the outside of the ear, and I haven’t really needed to readjust them that much as I move around. They are bluetooth and rechargeable. So far, I have gone 2-3 days without having to recharge them.

And you know what else? It uses cool new technology. THEY ARE COOL! 

Should You Try These Headphones?

If you run a lot outside with music and always leave one side of your headphones out so you can hear around you, these headphones are for you! Or the kind of active person who likes to hear what’s going on around you in general, go for these! If you are a audiophile and into really super crystal clear sound or are the type of person who puts your headphones on and zones out from the world around you – these are probably not going to be the right headphones for you right now. With technology constantly improving, that could change… so, keep your eye on the space because who knows, the next iteration could address those issues.

By the way: I was not asked to share info on these headphones. I just ordered them independently and really like them.  I will revisit my thoughts about them in a month to follow up on how well they have performed.

Want even more info? Here’s a good recap of these headphones from The Verge: Are bone conduction headphones good enough yet?

Aftershokz

Image by Aftershokz

 

Review: Thrive – Plant Based Nutrition Bars by GoMacro

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GoMacro Thrive I was recently sent a box of GoMacro’s newest bar — Thrive, a plant-based nutrition bar, which should be available at Whole Foods now. I’ve shared info in a previous post about GoMacro -so I knew I liked their bars, but I was interested in trying these bars because they use plant-based protein which I prefer because of my dairy sensitivities.

The GoMacro Thrive is available in six flavors that contain plant-based protein, essential fatty acids and prebiotic fiber to fuel your body and mind. 

GoMacro is a pretty cool company too. As I mentioned in my earlier postthese bars are made with quality ingredients and taste good.  The company is family owned and cause driven.  These bards are great if you are on the go and want a healthy snack that has protein!

GoMacro-Thrive: My FavoritesThrive bars are USDA Organic, Gluten Free, Soy Free, Kosher, Vegan and Low Glycemic and delicious. So far, my favorites are the ones that include chocolate! (no surprise)

Chocolate, Nuts & Sea Salt

Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip

All of their bars are under 200 calories with 7g of protein. In addition to the two flavors above they offer:

  • Almond Apricot
  • Blueberry Lavender
  • Ginger Lemon
  • Caramel Coconut

They were all good, although I am not a huge fan of Ginger or Lavender in general, so those were not my favorite. So, with that said, I heartily recommend giving these bars a try!

Keep in mind, whole fresh food should always be a first choice – but we all need to live in reality and recognize it’s not always possible situation-ally or time wise to eat that way. We have to be realistic and fluid enough to accommodate life. So, my advice is to always make the best choice with what you have available. These bars are not perfect –they do contain sugar (although natural coconut sugar and brown rice syrup) – but compared to some other bars on the market, they are a better choice.

Get 30% off GoMacro: Thrive bars!

And because the people at GoMacro are so kind, they are offering a one-time-use coupon code (Thrive30) for 30% off to my readers to buy Thrive bars at gomacro.com

 

Disclosure: Although GoMacro provided me with samples, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own and not influenced by the brand or company. 

Well Fed, Healthy and Happy

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Well Fed - Melissa JoulwanI came home to a special package from Melissa Joulwan.  If you aren’t familiar with her, she’s the author of the popular blog The Clothes Make the Girl, which is now renamed to just her name alone and her Well Fed book series.  I’ve been a supporter and fan of Melissa’s for years now and have recommended her first Well Fed book before. If you are looking for really good recipes that meet Whole 30, Paleo, Clean Eating guidelines – look no further than her cook books.  Her recipes are by far the top of the top in terms of just being good food.  When people ask me for advice on going “paleo’ or starting a Whole 30 program — the first thing I recommend is to buy her cookbooks. Honest.

Want to buy the Well Fed books? Here’s a link to her online store and you can buy them through Amazon as well.  If you are looking for even more Paleo and Clean Eating resources, visit my Paleo/CrossFit resource area.

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September 21, 2016 is St. Jude Day at Chili’s

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Chilis and St Jude - Childhood Cancer Awareness MontHead 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.

More info: CHILI’S MAKES $30 MILLION COMMITMENT TO ST. JUDE SCHOOL PROGRAM

Bacon Bonding with My Dog

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Dogs Life - Bacon - Trooper 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!

Trooper with Bacon Treats

 

 

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.

5 Amazing Facts About St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

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St Jude Blogger Tour 2016If 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 - St JudeDanny 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.

These flags represent all the countries where St. Jude Doctors and Researchers come from. The brightest minds in the world are all working together to end childhood cancer.

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…

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

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St JudeI’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.

 

St Jude Walk/Run

 

Keep on Keeping On

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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

Kat Von D Lock It Revolution

Thanks Influenster Vox for my box of Kat Von D Lock it Goodies! 

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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A Upcoming Visit to Memphis

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St Judes Hospital 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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